When the pandemic hit, many of us, like me, went from working 40 hours a week to being isolated at home. I was looking for a way to use my time productively and also wanted to support our community. I heard about a church in Conway that was using local businesses to feed healthcare workers, so went to our pastor to see if we might do something similar.
He immediately agreed and got the rest of the church on board. We started a Facebook group and reached out to Baptist Health to ask what their needs would be and how many people would need to be served. We worked with members of the administrative team at the hospital to lay out guidelines as to how this could be done safely. We determined that there would be no homemade food, each meal needed to be packaged in an individual container, snacks had to be pre-packaged and in individual servings…things like that.
The last thing we wanted to do was to be more of a problem than a service. So we decided to provide full meals on Tuesdays and Saturdays and snacks on Mondays and Thursdays. We would do a day shift and a night shift except on Saturdays, when we would just provide one meal at noon.
Pastor Craig reached out to other churches in Arkadelphia and got the Chamber of Commerce involved. Individuals began to sign up and share the word with their networks as well. Before we knew it, many of the churches in town were on board, as well as banks, local businesses, restaurants, and civic groups.
It’s now a well-organized community effort. Each group signs up for a day, and we try to rotate using different restaurants in town so that we can support each other. Some of the organizations choose to make donations and designate how they want it to be used, but most groups have been taking care of delivery and all of it themselves. Some of the youth have started chalking encouraging messages on the sidewalk outside the hospital and one church has been making gift bags for the hospital workers. We’ve even had individual families commit to providing a day’s worth of snacks.
Because there is someone outside the emergency room at all times, they are our contact person. We drop it off with them, then a member of the staff comes and distributes it throughout the hospital. We follow all the guidelines for delivery, wearing masks and gloves and keeping a safe social distance.
The staff have communicated that having the meals has been a huge help. Many of them just don’t eat during the day, because leaving the hospital to get food means changing out of their PPE equipment, which uses valuable resources.
It’s important for us as a community to encourage our healthcare workers. We want to support them through this difficult time and serving each other is what it’s all about.
Share some ideas below of how you are supporting your local front line workers like Shawna.
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