As San Francisco’s citizens prepare for the likely 1906-sized earthquake, the hard reality is that the most vulnerable citizens to such a disaster are also those who suffer on a daily basis the biggest economic, health and safety, and social hardships. Those people need emergency ration kits just as much as anyone else, but how can they get them?
Aware of that challenge, the San Francisco Disaster Feeding Task Force a coalition of city agencies, nonprofits, and neighborhood organizations that determines how to manage scarce resources, such as food and water supplies, in a disaster, understands that vulnerable populations often can’t maintain necessary emergency rations at home. Therefore, the Task Force studied how to get rations into those people’s homes.
The Task Force realized that the best way to identify and deliver these supplies was through the meal delivery services already serving vulnerable populations. Meals On Wheels and Project Open Hand identified 500 of their most vulnerable meal delivery clients and the Tenderloin Hunger Task Force Coordinator Yvonne Charles coordinated the agreement between participating agencies for responsibility, delivery, and inventory of the supplies. But then we hit a seemingly insurmountable hurdle: the project couldn’t move forward without the food and water supplies, which would cost more than we could raise. The situation didn’t look good.
Just when the project was about to be shelved for lack of funds, the Lick Wilmerding High School junior class president, Jody Fu, contacted SF CARD (San Francisco Community Agencies Responding to Disaster) asking how the High School could help make San Francisco residents better prepared for an emergency, such as a natural disaster. The students had seen the devastation in Haiti and had contributed to the relief effort but wanted to make their own home in San Francisco a safer place as well. After just a few months of planning, fundraising, and coordination with the Task Force, the school volunteers made the program a reality.
On Saturday May 8th, class volunteers assembled food and water supplies donated by the San Francisco Food Bank into kits to be delivered to the homes of Meals On Wheels’ and Project Open Hand’s most vulnerable clients. Delivery drivers also briefed clients about disaster preparedness, gave them emergency information pamphlets and whistles from the SF Department of Emergency Management, and continue to inventory the supplies at designated intervals. The monies the students raised over many class fundraisers will go to the Food Bank to offset some of the costs of supplies and packaging.
This project came together as a community effort with many partners. But it could not have happened without the time and money, but most importantly the inspiration and enterprise of Jody Fu and the other junior class students at Lick Wilmerding High School.
Alessa Adamo is Executive Director of SF CARD (San Francisco Community Agencies Responding to Disaster), a Non-Governmental Organization that provides free disaster preparedness services and resources to San Francisco human services nonprofit agencies and faith-based organizations.
[How exactly did the students at Lick Wilmerding High School make this happen? Student Jody Fu explains in an upcoming NEN Blog. Watch this space!]