One of the recipients of the hot meals is a caregiver of the family, which involves taking care of younger children. The children have special dietary needs that make it hard to find affordable and nutritious meals. During the pandemic, the household experienced short-term financial troubles and sought support through supplementing their food. When this individual was seeking supplies at food shelves, they were not just looking for themselves, they were shopping for their entire family. However, in their experience, about half of the food items that they receive from food shelves are processed and packaged food, rather than fresh and healthy options. Instead of fresh fruit or vegetables, oftentimes these options are only available as canned goods, and basic necessities such as eggs are hard to come by. If there are some of the items that are fresh and healthy, they are close to their expiration date. Due to the nature of this, they felt that they needed to visit food shelves often because the food would not last them. However, due to their busy schedule, including odd hours at work, they cannot always make the trips because they could not make the times available. This made their experience with food shelves sometimes difficult, and especially hard to navigate when they really needed them.
Through additional resources and communication, the caregiver was notified that Asian Media Access was providing free hot meals for families in Minneapolis. In combination with food shelves and meal pick up, this would help reduce the financial burden on the family. The recipient commented, “When I started working late shifts here and there, I thought that I would miss the hot meals completely, but every time, AMA accommodated my schedule when I was unable to pick up during the normal times’. This individual had originally signed up for hot meals being able to pick up between the set times, but even after a schedule change, they did not have to sacrifice between their job or supplementing a family meal.
During the pick up days, the family did not have to question if they were going to have a healthy meal. The individual said, “The hot meals not only supplemented a meal that allowed us to save some money on food, but it provided us time back to spend with family after a long day of work. The children loved the hot meals and looked forward to them”. Food is a necessity that families cannot continuously skip. When receiving these meals, this conveniently helped the family provide another complete balanced and healthy meal, especially one that they could not typically afford on a weekly basis during their financial hardship. Furthermore after receiving feedback, Asian Media Access focused on respecting cultural preferences by not including certain meats such as pork. This ensured that the meals that they were receiving would not go to waste, and the time that they spent picking up the meals was utilized effectively. In addition, each meal came with flyers that shared local opportunities and additional support. This household was able to find new community events, food shelves around the neighborhood, cultural specific partner organizations, and learning programs for the children in the family. The hot meals were able to provide households with opportunities for improving their quality nutrition, finding community, and building themselves back on their feet when they had short term troubles.