The collective power of community is a vital part of generating innovative solutions and advocating for a food system we all deserve. Donya-Jenkins, a partner of Eat Greater Des Moines, is a community health worker and a powerful agent of change in her community.
“My first love is social work because I love helping people,” said Jenkins. “This job allows me to do just that without my social work degree. What I do, in a nutshell, is connect people with resources. As soon as EGDM reached out to me to receive boxes, I CC’d my church and immediately said ‘we’re doing this.’
Operation: Fresh Produce Drop started in April 2020 as a result of the COVID-19. Through the USDA Farmers to Families program, EGDM received boxes of produce, dairy, and protein to pass along to our partners. Throughout Phase 5, we distributed over 2,300 boxes each week through partnering with over 60 community organizations, Donya’s church being one. In total, over 90,000 boxes were distributed through the USDA Farmers to Family program.
Jenkins soon realized the power of connections in the process of delivering these boxes. Along with her community, she was able to help service churches, senior living centers, and other neighborhoods in the greater Des Moines area.
“By the second week, word got out that I had boxes,” said Jenkins. “My cousin to who I delivered a box – she told her dad. And he took those boxes to his church and so forth. Ever since then, we started taking it to our family’s homes, and the people there would take it to their communities. It was a wonderful, sometimes stressful blessing. Now that it’s over, it’s scary. It is a big, empty hole. I am hopeful that food comes soon because people are waiting.”
Jenkins now receives food from the Veterans Hospital and is looking to start community meals for congregations and neighborhoods around the church in the coming weeks.
“I have seen so much love during this time. When I am servicing people, and they are receiving me and thanking me, I feel so much love. The biggest gap that I have always seen that needs to be filled is food. If I can help make sure people don’t go hungry and can help fill that gap, I will take every opportunity to do so,” said Jenkins.