The COVID-19 pandemic rocked everyone, especially those working in food – with poor and working-class immigrants and communities of color hit hardest. These groups have been impacted in different ways by the pandemic:
- Loss or reduction of employment: For workers and chefs who Oakland Bloom supports, shelter-in-place meant loss of employment or drastically reduced hours, resulting in extreme economic hardship;
- Limited or no access to government benefits: Due to barriers around social support, language access, transportation and immigration status, the people with whom Oakland Bloom works have limited access to stimulus relief, unemployment or other benefits – made more tenuous with Public Charge legislation that punishes immigrants for accessing public benefits and services.
- Loss of childcare for working chefs: Most of our participants in our program are single mothers with small children. With immense childcare responsibilities and justified concerns around exposing their kids to COVID-19, the shelter-in-place severely limited mobility, access to free food distribution, and paid work.
In order to provide economic opportunities for Oakland Bloom chefs during the pandemic when other traditional opportunities are more limited, we developed our Pay It Forward program, which connects chefs to opportunities to cook homestyle meals that go towards neighborhood mutual aid/distribution efforts to feed our unsheltered neighbors in West and North Oakland each month.
Funded by Oakland, CA (December 2020)