In rural Lee County, Kentucky, considered by The New York Times as one of the “hardest” places to live in the country, the elderly, disabled, and struggling families rely primarily on their family members and friends to bring them their groceries.
But now, our partner there, Cumberland Mountain Outreach, has established the “Little Red Riding Hood Groceries and Food Bank Delivery Services” program to address this pressing need, reports its president, Cindy Evanoff.
And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem has been significantly exacerbated.
“Because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the rurality of this Appalachian area in which we live, many families have lost income, and senior citizens and the physically frail are frightened to leave their homes,” Cindy told us.
Previously, CMO could rely on volunteers to take food out to these isolated households, but because of the growing need, the price of gasoline, and the amount of time and commitment required, that all changed with the coming of the pandemic, she explained.
“It was overwhelming,” said Cindy.
Plus, “with the pandemic, friends and families are not going out for food as frequently as they did, and when they do go out to get supplies, they do not want to come in contact with high-risk people.”
Under the Little Red Riding Hood program, inspired by the fairy tale, of course, needy residents in the community will call CMO’s office to sign up to get on the food delivery list, and an account is established for them at the local Dollar General store to get them what they need.
“We will take them food that we have in our food pantry, as well as items they need from the store,” reported Cindy.
And not only does the program ensure that children, parents, and grandparents will not go hungry, it also provides employment for local residents who are out of work in the high-unemployment region, adds Cindy.
In regards to popular food delivery apps like GrubHub and DoorDash, Cindy says, “These food delivery services are not a new idea to the ‘outside world,’ but it is for this area,” and are currently unavailable in the county.
For the coming year, Cindy estimates that they will make 2,000 deliveries benefiting 4,000 individuals in her request for assistance from Americans Helping Americans®.
“If not for this program, the people would have to go without food and household items until, or if, someone could help them, and the drivers would have no income.”