Recovery & relief efforts in the Mission during COVID-19


Volunteers at the Mission Food Hub package food to distribute amongst the community, Tuesday May 12, 2020. Photo: Mabel Jiménez/El Tecolote

Within San Francisco, Latinos in the Mission District —Calle 24’s home— have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the people of the Mission are no strangers to community organizing, and it’s been inspiring to see how many spontaneous efforts have sprouted up of individuals and organizations teaming up to help the community during its time of need. Here, we hope to list just some of the relief efforts happening in the Mission.

Mission Meals Coalition

This coalition of Bay Area organizers, small businesses and community groups started delivering hundreds of groceries and meals last April to COVID-19 impacted community members. Their mission is to ensure that neighbors have access to food regardless of their zip code, housing or immigration status. The main focus is to serve populations who don’t have access to institutional resources, including day laborers, street vendors, seniors, asylum seekers and many others.

Businesses interested in participating, or those who’d like to donate, can contact info@missionmealscoalition.org

For the time being, MMC is at capacity with the households they’re currently serving, but that could change depending on community contributions. Visit their website at missionmealscoalition.org to check for updates.

Latino Task Force

Medical student Yohana Keleta swabs a Mission resident for a COVID-19 test during UCSF's mass testing study at Garfield Square during a comprehensive study of the virus's spread, providing free tests for 5700 residents in a one-mile square radius of the Mission District, April 25, 2020.

Medical student Yohana Keleta swabs a Mission resident for a COVID-19 test during UCSF’s mass testing study at Garfield Square during a comprehensive study of the virus’s spread, providing free tests for 5700 residents in a one-mile square radius of the Mission District, April 25, 2020. Photo: Mike Kai Chen

As San Francisco’s Latino essential workers have been one of the demographics hardest hit by the pandemic, the Latino Task Force, a coalition of community organizers and local institutions and businesses, was formed to provide support to Latinos impacted by COVID-19 in San Francisco and the larger Bay Area. Different branches of the Task Force have been behind a variety of efforts including free food distribution; the implementation of free COVID testing to Mission Residents within the most impacted census tract; distributing information on housing and employment rights and much more.

One of the Task Force’s crowning achievements is an online resource guide available in English, Spanish and Mayan. The website is beautiful, clear and simple to navigate and find information, even for the least web savvy among us.

A menu with different buttons direct visitors to resources for small businesses; how to get free food and food assistance; education resources for homeschooling and online learning; help for artists; emergency funds for undocumented residents, amonst other resources.

To learn more, visit https://www.ltfrespuestalatina.com/

Mission Latino Food Hub

One of the most anticipated yearly events in the Mission is Carnaval. But with all public events cancelled for the foreseeable future, it had to be postponed. Carnaval organizer and “Mayor of the Mission” Roberto Hernandez, partnered with the recently formed Latino Task Force, and redirected the efforts and resources that he would normally be putting towards Carnaval and created the Mission Latino Food Hub. He contacted the businesses that had pledged sponsorship of Carnaval 2020 before it was canceled, and convinced those event sponsors to use the resources they would have used towards Carnaval, to support the community that has supported Carnaval for so many years. Soon, donations big and small started pouring in, and Hernandez arranged the use of a large warehouse space on Alabama Street to organize and distribute the food from.

Photo: Mabel Jiménez

Volunteers arrive early in the morning to have household boxes prepared with a variety of items, some days providing food for over 1,000 households. Lines at times stretch more than ten blocks long, and no one is denied food so long as supplies last. On any given week you can expect to find oatmeal, rice, beans, cilantro, fruits and vegetables, masa harina, frozen meals, steak, chicken, milk, eggs to list just a few. Food distribution takes place Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10am at 701 Alabama Street. Be advised, lines start forming early. To donate, visit https://givebutter.com/6HtzZM or text the word “COMIDA” to (202) 858-1233

Undocufund

San Francisco’s Undocufund was created in response to the US government’s failure to provide stimulus assistance to undocumented immmigrants during the pandemic. Though California governor Gavin Newsom eventually promised state funds to help these families, San Francisco was ahead of the curve. Frank Lara, 5th grade teacher at Buena Vista Horace Mann Elementary School and community organizer, pledged to donate part of his stimulus check and asked members of his teacher’s union to do the same. As the donations and organizing grew, the teachers reached out to a group that did a similar effort in Sonoma County in 2017 in response to the need for relief for undocumented families after wildfires to learn about setting up and administrating Undocufund. Now, it has grown to a partnership that includes PODER, La Colectiva, The Chinese Progressive Association, Jobs with Justice San Francisco, and Young Workers United. To donate, or to apply for assistance visit https://www.undocufund-sf.org/en/apply/

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