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Non-profits launch meal train for low-income families: ‘The need is tremendous’

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 18:54:44-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Now that a stay-at-home order is in effect for Virginia, low-income families face a particularly difficult challenge in getting basic food and cleaning supplies.

Local non-profit groups in Jackson Ward are working to bridge that gap for 100 families in Gilpin Court, one of Richmond’s most economically disadvantaged communities.

Jackson Ward Youth Peace Team and Community 50/50 teamed up to launch a bi-weekly meal train. Donations are packed into family-size bags and distributed to families in Gilpin Court.

"The need is tremendous. Before this crisis, the need was there, so definitely now that we're in this crisis, the need is very much there,” said Zenobi Bey, founder and CEO of Community 50/50. “These communities don't have access to get to the stores, a lot of people in the communities don't have the actual funds to get to the stores. A lot of times people are in a panic, and don't really know what's going on and there's not a lot of things there, that's another added stressor.”

“This week was dedicated to cleaning supplies. Last week was dedicated to some food, but we also have some food today to give away,” said Brandon Love, with Richmond Peace Team. “Thankful to be here, thankful serve the community. Everybody just stay safe.”

Organizers are asking for donations of stable-dinner foods and cleaning supplies. Monetary donations can also be made to help pay for some items that cannot be purchased using food stamps.

The list of the group is collecting is below:

** indicates a high priority
• Bleach**
• Bleach**
• Spray Bottles**
• Spray Bottles**
• Boxes to distribute food
• Boxes to distribute food
• Peanut Butter
• Jelly
• Jelly
• Dish Soap
• Crackers
• Bottled Water
• Canned Tuna
• Canned Soup
• Trash bags
• Bananas
• Apples
• Carrots
• Onions
• Potatoes
• Cabbage
• Broth (of all kinds)
• Juice
• Pedialyte
• OTC Medicine

Stoplight Gelato Cafe is closed for business during the COVID-19 shutdown, but opens their doors twice each week to serve as a donation and sorting hub for the effort.

“A place like this, right near the community is an excellent place. People can come in, and grab what they need,” Love said.

Volunteers will be on site every Monday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The bags are distributed to families after all the products are cleaned.

“We're wiping everything down before taking donations from the community, and encouraging families to do the same thing when they receive them,” Bey said.

The amount of time businesses will close for coronavirus response is still unclear, and organizers hope to continue helping families in need indefinitely.

“To be able to get donations from the community is a blessing, and to be able to give it back to those that may have those barriers, actually helps,” Bey said.