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Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the disaster relief organization known for mobilizing Veterans in response to tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, Team Rubicon, saw another kind of disaster on the horizon: millions of immunocompromised Americans facing the risk of going hungry. So, it pivoted into action. In addition to standing up COVID-19 testing sites and sending medics to serve at the Navajo Nation, the Veteran-led nonprofit is activating volunteers to deliver food to people sheltering in place and those who are medically at-risk.
In May, Team Rubicon launched the COVID-19 Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) in partnership with the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) and supported by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. Through EFAP, Team Rubicon connects people battling cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis to an application site where they can request food delivery or financial assistance. Then, it calls on its Veteran and civilian volunteers, known as Greyshirts, to deliver food or groceries straight to that person’s door.
In Tallahassee, U.S. Army Veteran and Team Rubicon Greyshirt Keith Luce has already made numerous food drops, but one of his most memorable was to Ms. Smith, a retiree without family nearby who is battling multiple myeloma. When Luce first reached out to see how he could help, the highly independent woman demurred. It took persistence for Luce to get her to acknowledge she could use a little water; more persistence still to get her to write out a grocery list he could shop.
Within hours, Luce—clad in mask and gloves—had cases of water and bags of food sitting on the woman’s table. And, he had her appreciation.
“When you’re alone and you’re sick and somebody just offers to do any little thing it’s just such a blessing,” says Smith. “And that was such a blessing.”
Luce left with Smith’s gratitude, and her promise that she’d call if she needed anything further. Then, he was off to find another EFAP client in need of his services.
Team Rubicon’s EFAP may barely be a month old, but already more than 600 food deliveries have been made—and not a single MRE among them.
Team Rubicon is a Veteran-led disaster relief organization that serves communities by mobilizing Veterans, first responders, and civilians to help people prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters and humanitarian crises. Whether you are in need of a delivery or want to volunteer to make them, Team Rubicon is here to serve you.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program is a joint effort between Team Rubicon and the Patient Advocate Foundation and is powered by Bristol Myers Squibb. EFAP provides financial and food assistance to immunocompromised Veterans and civilians who have cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
Visit the Team Rubicon EFAP application to get financial assistance and food drops straight to your door.
How to Volunteer for Team Rubicon
Want to put your experience in the military to new use? Team Rubicon helps Veterans of all stripes find new ways to serve. To volunteer, visit www.teamrubiconusa.org/volunteer.