A COVID-19 Response Fund has been created by the United Way of the Mark Twain Area to help partner organizations better serve clients during disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Executive Director Denise Damron said some of the area's most vulnerable individuals have been affected by the precautions that are designed to lower the risk of spreading the virus.
Many of the nutrition centers have stopped congregate feeding and will face new challenges and costs in getting food to clients.
“My understanding is that senior centers get paid for the individuals that come in their doors. They're not going to have those headcounts and these places are needed now more than ever before,” Damron said.
Damron said on Friday that General Mills has donated $7,000 to get the fund launched. United Way will set priorities to distribute the money.
Through the Response Fund, people can help cover the costs of getting food to people who can no longer gather at nutrition sites. In addition, Damron said the fund can help fix up buddy backpacks that provide meals for school students during the weekends.
“The schools are stepping in to help feel those students through the week, but the buddy backpack meals and snacks are still needed,” Damron said.
The United Way also is assembling COVID-19 Response Kits for the 300 clients whose meals are delivered to their homes.
“We'll send them some cereal, paper towels, toilet paper and cans of soup in these kits,” Damron said.
The kits are meant to remove the pressure for meal recipients to go to the store at a time when there are someshortagesduetopanicbuying and hoarding by some shoppers.
“My fear is the senior population doesn't need to be out where they can catch something and when they go to these stores I don't know if they'll find some of these items,” Damron said.
In order to fill the response kits, Damron bought 600 rolls of toilet paper, explaining to the vendor about the program. Donations to the COVID-19 Response Fund may be made at www. unitedwaymta.org, through the United Way of the Mark Twain Area Facebook page, or by mail at PO Box 81, Hannibal, MO 63401 speciallymarkedfortheCOVID-19 Response. Funds will only be used to assist individuals in the United Way of the Mark Twain Area's core market – Marion, Ralls, Lewis, Monroe and Shelby counties.