Serving People in Need While Preventing COVID-19 Spread

With social distancing key to prevent COVID-19 spread, drive-thru distributions and virtual support become the new normal.

As we continue with daily life while abiding by best practices to avoid COVID-19 spread, we’re all experiencing major shifts in communication. Instead of gatherings with family and friends, many have turned to technology to stay safe and connected.

This shift has also created a lot of change for many of our nonprofit partners who serve the basic needs of low income populations. 

For example, at the Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Supervisor Alana Erickson said all communications have shifted virtually, and WIC participants are being referred to 2-1-1 resources if in need of items not provided via those benefits. 

In Oconto County, our partners at Kingdom Come say drive-thru operations add a layer of difficulty to providing supplies that families need. For example, Belinda of Kingdom Come said she regularly spoke with families about diaper need when they would come in to pick up their supplies – something that isn’t happening right now.

“The biggest struggle is not hearing from our clients. Because we are serving more families, and the drive-thru style of food distribution does not lend itself to time to talk, we were not able to discuss particular client needs or changes to this first diaper distribution. (Typically) clients would talk to me about size changes or problem-solving based on our available products,” she said. “That is disrupted now, and will be increasingly disrupted with each month we continue to need to limit and control spacial contact with our clients.”

Belinda said hopes to be able to make assumptions about diaper size needs based on what she knows about the child, but at the end of the day right now is about just adapting to get by and make things work.