Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans have lost their jobs. According to the U.S. Labor Department, over 20 million Americans filed for unemployment in April alone. Areas of the economy that have been particularly hard hit include tourism and the hospitality industry—both sectors that are vitally important to the economy of Door County—and so, the Door Peninsula has seen a sharp increase in unemployment as well. Skyrocketing unemployment will cause many ripple effects across any community, and one of the most pronounced of those effects is food insecurity. Door County has not been immune to this side effect of the coronavirus pandemic, and as unemployment has risen dramatically across the county, so too has the need for food assistance.
“The Boys and Girls Club of Door County had to make a very difficult decision on March 18th to close programming, but saw the immediate need to feed not only our members, but the community,” according to Chelsea Dahms Door County Meals Cooperative Marketing Coordinator and Boys & Girls Club of Door County Resource Development Coordinator.
Enter the Door County Meals Cooperative
As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic became more severe and as the clear need for food assistance grew, Door County Medical Center worked with several of the peninsula’s community organizations, including The Boys and Girls Club, that already provided meals and had large-scale food preparation and distribution operations in place to establish the Door County Meals Cooperative.
Once the Cooperative was established, it was divided into three programs: Breakfast and Lunch; delivered meals to Seniors/Homebound Population; and Dinner. The Breakfast and Lunch program was designed to address the needs of food insecure students and their families, and has been appropriately handled by schools across Door County and into Kewaunee County. Each school creates and packages all of the meals, and then either delivers the meals to those students in need along each respective bus route or offers pickup locations within their district. The Seniors/Homebound Population program is run by the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC), which creates and delivers frozen meals to Door County’s elderly and disabled populations in conjunction with Meals on Wheels. Additionally, seniors can stop by the ADRC and pick up lunch.
In order to address food security for low income families or individuals recently out of work and financially in trouble the Dinner program was started. Unlike the other programs, which were already in existence, but expanded for the pandemic, the dinner program was brand new—established to address the immediate needs of the community. By the end of March, the Boys & Girls Club of Door County was producing 750 meals a day for the Dinner program.
The Door County Meals Cooperative had 8 kitchen sites. Each school that was involved in the Breakfast and Lunch program—Southern Door, Sturgeon Bay, Sevastopol and Gibraltar—have a commercial kitchen. The ADRC has a commercial kitchen, as does the Boys & Girls Club and Sonny’s Pizzeria. All told, 71 volunteers at these kitchens produced, packaged and delivered over 15,000 meals a week to families in need across Door and Kewaunee Counties for approximately two months—that is nearly 120,000 meals!
“It has been truly inspirational to watch the community come together and support each other during this unprecedented time. Door County is an amazing community and the response to this pandemic is proof that great things happen when we hold together as a community and work collaboratively,” says Chelsea Dahms.
The last day of the Door County Meals Cooperative is May 29th of this year.
Thank you to the volunteers and contributors of the Door County Meals Cooperative. More information is available online at www.DoorCountyMeals.org. Email inquiries can be sent to email@example.com.