#REACH4Allegheny: Coronavirus & Food Access

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing families to stockpile supplies. But what happens when you don’t have access to healthy foods during the statewide stay-at-home orders? The Allegheny County Health Department and the REACH initiative, a coalition working to eliminate health inequities and reduce chronic disease in African-American communities, is working to address this concern.

Last year, REACH, a CDC funded initiative, began to devise a nutrition strategy through partnerships with Allegheny County’s Health and Economic Development Departments, The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, UPMC, The Food Trust, Just Harvest, Healthy Start and the Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle. Although the work was unrelated to the current crisis, the partners began to lay the groundwork for feeding more families and residents experiencing food insecurity. Here are some of the activities happening amongst REACH partners.

The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council 

The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council is sharing key resources for people, non-profits, businesses across the food system. Click here to get connected or visit their Facebook page for additional updates. The Facebook page links to a searchable map of food resources available, including school grab and go sites and food pantries.

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank continues to monitor the development of COVID-19 and take proactive steps to protect the community. Due to the logistics and observation of social distancing regulations, those in need of food can rely on the large network of food pantries. Find a pantry in your neighborhood at pittsburghfoodbank.org/get-help/locator/. You can stay up to date with announcements like new distributions or deliveries by following the Food Bank on Facebook.

Just Harvest 

Just Harvest is issuing a call to action to the public to urge state officials to swiftly adopt key measures to protect working families and other vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can sign the petition and read about other activations on their website. Just Harvest is also reacting to the pandemic on Facebook with a Covid-19 Response Phonebank.

Food Preparation Tips

If you are supplementing donation supplies with trips to the grocery store, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends only purchasing a one week supply.  The guidelines take into consideration that even when freight flow is not interrupted, grocery stores need time to restock. Residents can assess what they already have in stock and check expiration dates. Prepare a shopping list, which includes staples and produce with longer shelf life, like potatoes, onions and citrus fruit. Also, consider salt alternatives, such as dried herbs or spices, to watch your sodium intake on a diet based on shelf-stable, nonperishable foods.  REACH partners are committed to helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle during these uncertain times.