Meridian Provides Donation to Support Salvation Army Coronavirus Response Efforts
The Salvation Army continues to serve those most in need throughout the greater Chicagoland area, northern Illinois, and Lake County, Indiana. Since the start of the pandemic, the Army has seen an increase of up to 500 percent in requests for food and rental/utility assistance. Chicago neighborhoods on the south and west sides have been hit the hardest.
Meridian, a health insurance agency, has stepped up to support the Army’s response throughout the City and suburbs with a $30,000 donation plus more than $52,000 in Walmart gift cards to be used on other essential items such as diapers and over-the-counter medicines. Gift cards will be distributed through corps community centers as part of their pantry and social services programs.
“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are far-reaching and have extended beyond medical care to affect access to food, education and other critical resources across our state,” said Karen Brach, Meridian Plan President and CEO for Illinois. “These social determinants of health have a significant impact on overall wellbeing, especially among vulnerable populations, and Meridian wants to help ensure we’re supporting the needs of our communities during this challenging time.”
"This donation is essential to The Salvation Army's mission to serve those most vulnerable during this dangerous time," said Major David Dalberg, director of The Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services in the Chicagoland area. "Partners like Meridian help bring hope and help during very trying times, and for that we are most grateful."
Areas such as Lawndale, Little Village, Englewood, and Cicero are seeing the greatest need. In fact, The Salvation Army serves the areas with the highest rate of mortality among the African American population due to COVID-19.
The Red Shield Center in Englewood has seen the number of visitors to its weekly food pantry increase from 400 to 2,000 individuals/families. And with the pantry distribution being drive-thru only, there is a massive line of cars down the street. Salvation Army officers Captains Corey and Nikki Hughes and their staff load boxes with enough food for a week into the trunk or back seat, provide a kind word of support and hope, and send people on their way home.
“The increase in need is just crazy,” said Captain Nikki. “We’re seeing new people every week – people who are losing their jobs and are hungry, people who didn’t know where they would be able to get food.”
In addition to accessing Salvation Army food pantries, City residents who are unable to obtain food because they are quarantined due to a COVID-19-positive test or doctor’s order can contact the City’s 311 call center to seek assistance. The center will coordinate with The Salvation Army for emergency meal box deliveries, typically within 48 hours. Vulnerable residents who qualify for existing food support will continue to have access to youth meals, Meals on Wheels for older adults, and the Food Depository’s network of partners and support services.
“We’ve received so many calls from people thanking us for the emergency meal boxes,” said Captain Corey. “They are truly a blessing to many people in our area.” The emergency meal boxes, which include a week’s worth of meals for one individual, are possible because of donations from partners like Meridian Health.
Learn about all the ways The Salvation Army is responding to the coronavirus – as well as how you can help – at salarmychicago.org/coronavirus.
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For tax purposes: The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division EIN is 36-2167910.