by Manuela Osorio
Gainesville is in great need. With the advent of COVID-19, many residents have been unable to access their usual sources of food. The pandemic has most significantly affected community members who were already vulnerable. Many have lost their jobs and are having difficulty affording food. Many no longer have access to transportation to grocery stores. Many are immunocompromised and cannot risk a trip to a store.
The urgent needs of our community members are not being met by any other county agencies, so a local organization called the Free Grocery Store has stepped up.
The Free Grocery Store (FGS) is a mutual aid network of volunteers, farmers, bakers, and delivery drivers.
Each week, volunteers from the Free Grocery Store deliver fresh produce, baked goods and non-perishables to over 300 Gainesville residents.
Prior to COVID-19, the Free Grocery Store was an in-person event held at the Civic Media Center each week, typically serving around 30 people.
The sudden need for everyone to stay home caused a spike in demand for food across Gainesville. The Free Grocery Store rapidly evolved to meet this challenge. Volunteers collect food from farms, bakers, food banks and grocery stores, pack it for distribution and distribute it.
Recipients of the deliveries have the option to specify dietary restrictions as well as request foods that do not require preparation if they do not have access to a kitchen.
The collective work of people from a variety of backgrounds developed the Free Grocery Store. It partners with local farms, businesses and organizations, including Madres Sin Fronteras and Dream Defenders, to make food accessible for those in need.
Money donations can be made to tiny.cc/freegrocerystoregnv.
Food, sanitary, and PPE donations can be dropped off at the counter in front of the Civic Media Center at 433 S. Main St. Right now they need gloves for packing food.
To stay up to date with the Free Grocery Store, you can follow their Instagram <@gnvfgs> or Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/GNVFGS/> accounts.
If you want to help FGS in any way, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate online, go to: https://tinyurl.com/iguana1090.
Peace, love, CMC.