(As published in the Siskiyou Daily News and the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers on Wednesday, April 15th, 2020)
The Siskiyou Food Distribution Task Force is addressing the needs of many low-income at-risk residents of Siskiyou County who are isolating themselves in response to COVID-19. Operating under the umbrella and organized by the Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services (OES), the Task Force uses existing distribution networks and the wide collaboration of organizations and volunteers as well as new technology to get boxes of food delivered to residents who request them.
“The willingness of the food banks, resource centers and other organizations to be part of the effort to deliver food to those who need it has exceeded my wildest expectations,” said Adam Heilman, OES Support Services Analyst and task force coordinator, “People who need this service will be able to access it.”
Low-income senior citizens and other Siskiyou County residents with underlying health conditions who should not leave their home and are in need of food can call 2-1-1 or visit https://bit.ly/3aiO8Ca to request assistance. 2-1-1 is a United Way Supported free and confidential service that helps people across Siskiyou County find the local resources they need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The State of California Department of Social Services has provided 750 boxes, each with enough food for 3-4 people for 3-4 days. The boxes were delivered to Great Northern Services (GNS) in Weed, CA, the designated USDA food distributor for Siskiyou County. Siskiyou County OES figured out the specific requirements of different areas of the county and GNS delivered the boxes to 13 partner organizations around the county. “Knowing the level of need that is out there, it’s been very relieving to be able to use our food distribution network to facilitate state emergency food efforts,” said Marie-Josée Wells, GNS Executive Director, “Adam Heilman and Siskiyou County OES have been great to work with. Their coordinated response has been well-thought out and efficient and Adam has been a calming force in what could be a hectic process.”
New technologies also increase the efficiency of bringing services directly to those in need in a large and sparsely populated county. Thanks to the efforts of Siskiyou County GIS Coordinator Holly Baun, geographic data collected by 2-1-1 or entered directly by request at https://bit.ly/3aiO8Ca is used by the Task Force staff to map out requests for assistance. Requests can then be assigned and forwarded to one of the groups that is making deliveries in that area or effectively divide between groups with overlapping delivery capabilities.
The groups that will be coordinating deliveries include Tulelake/Newell Family Resource Center, Siskiyou Food Assistance Corporation, Siskiyou Community Food Bank, Dunsmuir Community Resource Center, Mt Shasta Community Resource Center, Family and Community Resource Center of Weed, Scott Valley Family Resource Center, Yreka Food Bank, Yreka Community Resource Center, Bethel Yreka Assembly Of God, Happy Camp Community Action, the Dorris Lions Club, and the Hornbrook Community Bible Church.
Siskiyou County Residents who are low-income, at additional risk for COVID-19, and in need of food should call 2-1-1 or visit https://bit.ly/3aiO8Ca. Individuals who are not low-income are encouraged to contact a for-profit grocery delivery service so that Siskiyou Food Task Force can prioritize the needs of low-income residents during this time of crisis.