Dear Friends of Neighbors Together,
We hope this note finds you all healthy and taking good care during this uncertain time.
Like you, amid the intensifying spread of COVID-19, the team at Neighbors Together is closely monitoring the evolving nature of this public health outbreak. We are working hard to make timely, informed decisions to protect ourselves, our members and our larger community.
The harsh truth is that there is currently no adequate city, state or federal infrastructure in place to offer a clear respite for our low-income members – many of whom suffer from underlying health issues and lack access to stable housing, sufficient income or high quality health care options.
Knowing that our members are among the most susceptible and vulnerable, Neighbors Together has decided to remain open in order to offer daily meals and vital resources to our neighbors.
We are instituting the following new precautionary measures to protect our members, staff and volunteers:
- Neighbors Together’s meal program is in the process of transitioning to a to-go model to help minimize the potential spread of exposure inside of our Community Café.
- We are reminding our members, staff and volunteers, particularly those who are at higher risk (seniors, people with chronic health concerns or weakened immune systems) to monitor their personal health at all times and to remain home and/or outside of our facility if they are not feeling well.
- Our staff with the ability to work remotely will begin to do so starting next week.
- We are closely following the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website for preventative recommendations.
- We have posted user friendly signage throughout our facility about the precautionary measures that we must all take to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including reminding people to properly cover coughs, hand wash frequently and avoid touching their faces.
- We have a hand sanitizing station for all to use immediately upon entrance into our facility.
- We are making regular announcements throughout all our meal services about the importance of frequent and proper hand-washing procedures.
- We are increasing sanitation protocols throughout our kitchen, Community Café and office spaces in order to disinfect frequently touched surfaces with bleach or alcohol based solutions, including but not limited to bathrooms, doorknobs, faucets, Café tables and chairs, steamtable, water dispenser, desks, phones, keyboards and copy/printer machine.
- We are requiring all Café volunteers to place their cell phones in a locked box during meal shifts, so as to avoid inadvertently coming into contact with cell phones during meal hours.
- All staff and volunteers are required to follow existing protocols around wearing gloves, hair nets, and aprons during our meal programming, and are required to wash hands and change gloves after any breaks.
If you would like to offer tangible support to Neighbors Together during this time, we are seeking the following resources:
- Financial donations to help us purchase to-go containers, gloves, disposable aprons and cleaning supplies so that we can continue to provide lunch and dinner meals to-go while practicing safe hygiene and social distancing.
- Bulk donations of commercial hand sanitizer for use at Neighbors Together.
- Bulk donations of individually sized hand sanitizer and soap for distribution among our members to help them protect against COVID-19, particularly members who are living in NYC shelters, three-quarter houses or on the street.
We will continue to closely monitor the evolving nature of the virus and any new advisories that emerge from the New York State and/or New York City Departments of Health. We will also remain in active communication with our partner organizations in the larger emergency food and social service network to ensure a united and supportive response.
This is a moment in history that highlights the fundamental systemic failures of our country, state and city to provide for and protect the most vulnerable. We should all have access to quality health care, safe and affordable housing, and living wages to mitigate the impacts of crises like this.
Neighbors Together is deeply grateful to our staff, volunteers, members and supporters for helping to infuse our space with kindness, intentional care, and needed resources for our community members during this uncertain time. We will continue to keep you informed of our organizational decisions and needs as the situation evolves.
Thank you for your steadfast partnership as we aim to lead with love and dignity for our members during this unusual time.
With gratitude and wishes for good health to all,
The Neighbors Together Team