Utah (ABC4) -Getting groceries is a simple task but it’s one that becomes impossible for many who are quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19. In Weber and Morgan counties, three women make sure those who need food while in isolation get it.
“I had COVID last year,” Alicia Gamon tells ABC4. She says this helps her relate to those she and her team member serve. She continues, “We’re able to talk to them and say: ‘Okay, this is how you’re going to feel, just do the countdown, you’re isolation period is going to end, it’s okay to feel this way.’”
Gamon, Dakota Clem, and Carina Duran work for the Weber-Morgan Health Department as community health workers. “Community is our passion,” Gamon states. “We love what we do. We just love being boots on the ground and the three of us, we’re an awesome team.”
Each week, the team spends hours at the Catholic Community Center in Ogden picking up groceries. They’ve had this partnership for the entirety of the pandemic.
“It would be a shame because, without the Weber human services, there is a whole group of people that would not get food.” Pantry Manager Kenneth Donovan tells ABC4. “Either they wouldn’t come to us, or we couldn’t get the food to them.”
The health department gets a list of the people in the two counties who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 on a daily basis. The community health workers reach out to those on the list to find out if any of them will need assistance getting food while they quarantine. They go to the Catholic Comminity Services food pantry which supplies the food free of charge.
Gamon says during the height of the pandemic her team was taking food to nearly a dozen-and-a-half new families every day. That number has now leveled off to about four daily. However, she says there is one thing most of these families have in common. She explains, “We’re seeing that a good 90 percent of our cases now are people that are not vaccinated.”
The team of three makes these grocery runs every week on Tuesday through Saturday.
After picking up enough food to feed each family for the quarantine period the community health workers deliver it to each home. They carry boxes full of canned goods, frozen food, milk, fresh fruits, vegetable, and bread up to the front doorstep. When they set down the last box they ring the doorbell and run back to their cars. It’s a lot of physical work, but they say it’s worth it. “We see a lot of kids, and stuff and they get really excited like it’s Christmas and they get to see food on the table,” Dakota Clem adds.
The three ladies wear more than one hat as community health workers. They also help plan pop-up vaccine clinics in neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic. They scout out areas with populations that don’t have easy access to vehicles. These pop-up clinics are then set up within walking distance from those areas.
The program is funded through grants. The community health workers also help individuals find grants to help them through the financial burdens caused by the pandemic. Gamon says the grocery runs help with that. If a family runs out of funds, she says her team lets the family know about the food program so they can save the money they would have spent on groceries and put it toward rent and other bills. She says all their roles are needed but what is most important “is just keeping our community safe.”