Meet Isabella, who provides families with fresh produce during COVID-19
Families in the Dallas area, including refugees, are relying on produce IRC New Roots coordinator Isabella Chamberlain harvests from the IRC’s New Roots gardens every week. The gardens were created as a way for newly arrived refugees to settle into their new communities, earn an income from what they grow, and enjoy more fresh produce at home. But now Isabella is working alone, for safety. She washes the product and packs it into tote bags with donated food so that each family has a week’s worth of meals. She distributes these grocery bags at centrally located sites within walking distance of families’ homes. Isabella’s work in Dallas is just one of the ways in which the IRC is there to support refugees and other vulnerable families in more than 40 countries during the COVID-19 crisis.
Isabella: “This pandemic is hitting them [resettled refugees] harder than most Americans. We just kind of knew right away that there was going to be a food issue.”
Isabella is helping low-income and refugee families in Dallas survive the COVID-19 pandemic. They rely on the produce she harvests from IRC New Roots gardens.
Isabella: “New Roots is the IRC’s food and agriculture program. Because I’m kind of just a department of one, I was able to react really quickly, faster than some food banks. Luckily the IRC had a pretty decent stockpile of pantry goods already here at the office. We’ve been able to get more and more of those donated every day and I box it all up and I throw it in my 2005 Subaru Forester and I bring it to the community and most often, they’re waiting for us.”
Isabella [to a family]: “How many people, 3?”
Isabella: “I’m able to serve about 20 families in less than an hour, which is the safety, or low contact, that we were going for. During the distribution, we have a strict six-foot policy, where we’re able to just kind of mark on the ground where people can stand and it’s been super easy to enforce.”
Boy [to Isabella]: “Thank you!”
Isabella [to boy]: “Sure.”
Families also leave the distribution center with more information about COVID-19.
Isabella: “I try to grab things that add flavor to a dish specifically so today we grabbed onions but sometimes I grab cilantro or mint, things I know that the communities we serve really enjoy in their food. They need so much help right now. Be educated on who this is really hurting the most. It’s hard for everyone. It’s emotional for everyone. It’s weird for everyone but there are communities that this is hitting harder and they deserve that recognition and they deserve that assistance.”