CHICAGO — One of Chicago’s longest active food justice organizations has found a creative way to pivot their business during COVID-19, while still providing fresh produce to the city’s most vulnerable.
“The first obstacle (during the pandemic) was folks not being able to access SNAP remotely. For us, a lot of our customers are super vulnerable,” said Erika Allen, co-founder of Urban Growers Collective.
“Suddenly they were all cut off, and we just pivoted into an emergency donation model,” Allen said.
The new structure at Urban Growers Collective is what Allen describes as a “give-get model.” Customers can pre-order fresh produce online for no-contact pickups, and that money is used to donate an equal amount of food to those in need.
Farm manager Malcolm Evans said it was challenging to adjust during what is usually his busiest time of year.
“Me, personally, I’m not always ready for a Plan B, I like to take it one day at a time,” Evans said. “But I feel like Urban Growers Collective did a great job by still being able to make that change.”
In the wake of the latest Black Lives Matter protests, Allen said it’s important to recognize the amount of work it will take to combat systemic neglect and inequality.
“We have a unique opportunity to weave all of these systems together… so that we’re ready for the next challenge,” Allen said. “So that we have our most vulnerable communities being supported.”