As the COVID-19 crisis continues local non-profit organizations are rising to meet new challenges wrought by the pandemic. One such group is the African Minnesota Women’s Awareness Group (AMWAG) which has been hosting a series of food drives to meet the increased rates of food insecurity.
AMWAG, founded in 2015, first began as a women’s social group and later evolved into a non-profit organization that focuses on raising awareness for domestic violence. The organization was presented with the Non-profit of the Year Award at last year’s 9th annual African Awards that are organized and presented by Mshale.
“We realized among us [and] some of the people we interacted with had been domestically abused,” co-founder Elizabeth Marigi said.
AMWAG spreads awareness for domestic violence by hosting educational speaking and outreach events. The organization has partnered with local shelters and social workers to ensure that domestic violence victims are able to receive the support they need.
Since the pandemic began however, there has been an increase in demand for services due to food insecurity. “Because of covid, people were calling us, and we would leave food at their door steps,” Marigi said.
Starting in April, AMWAG began working with local churches by supporting them financially and physically helping them distribute food by delivering items to individuals’ homes.
In 2019, data reported by the United States Department of Agriculture estimated that nearly 11 percent of American households experience food insecurity. This figure has been exacerbated by the pandemic with researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois estimating that the rate of food insecurity has nearly doubled as a result of economic challenges brought on by COVID-19.
Through the help of a grant from Hennepin County that was allocated by the city of Brooklyn Park, AMWAG is able to host food distribution events every weekend in October that will last until Mid-November. Just this weekend alone the organization was able to distribute over 7 thousand pounds of food.
The Brooklyn Park based organization has also taken initiative to ensure that individuals are provided with foods that they’re familiar and comfortable eating. “We bought things which we know most Africans like,” Marigi said. Families have been able to receive pantry staples and fresh produce to meet their nutritional needs.
Through the help of local volunteers AMWAG was able to deliver food to vulnerable members of the community who are not able to physically leave their homes.
Food Distribution Dates
Address: Parking lot at 7420 Unity Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, MN 55443 and in Suite 209
Dates: October 17, 18, 30, 31 and November 13 and 14.
Time: 12PM to 4:30PM on all dates.
To learn more about AMWAG and other services they provide you can visit their website.
About Cynthia Simba, Mshale Reporter
Cynthia is a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism. She has interned at Mshale and Voice of America and previously worked at the Minnesota Daily. She recently returned from Seoul, South Korea where she was an English educator.
You can visit AMWAG’s website on the link above and let them know that you’re interested in becoming a member.
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