As America grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and the issues surrounding racial injustice, many of our Technomicians have decided to help out. By donating to organizations that promote racial equality, spreading awareness of prejudice and privilege, and providing direct assistance to neighbors and friends, our Employee Owners have chosen to make a positive impact on our community. While adhering to safety guidelines set by her local government, we have given back through food donations.
Local Food Banks in COVID-19
According to a report by the Washington Post1, 1 in 7 Americans rely on food banks. Due to the massive rise in unemployment these past few months, more families are turning to local food banks to fulfill or supplement food needs. The Capital Area Food Bank’s CEO, Radha Muthiah, has said their team is seeing up to four times as many people as they did pre-pandemic2. Technomics’ long-time partner, the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), has seen an active referral increase of 30%3. The drastic increase in demand has led to more families lacking access to basic necessities. While the impacts of COVID on our community are devastating enough, it is also important to note that food insecurity and racism are intricately connected. According to the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, 1 out of 5 black families report food insecurity, which is 3 times the rate of white families4. Food insecurity is thus linked to racial inequality in our region. As a company seeking to promote diversity and equality, combating food insecurity is one of the many ways through which we can influence the promotion of these values and fight structural inequities in our region.
Homelessness in COVID-19
In recent years, we’ve seen a downward trend in homelessness in Arlington, VA and Washington, DC5, 6. However, the unprecedented economic impacts of the pandemic threaten to radically increase those numbers. While eviction bans help prevent this issue on a short-term basis, homelessness could spike when those bans are lifted and the recently unemployed have to pay overdue rents or leave. As homeless shelters become hotspots for COVID-19, government officials are using vacant hotel rooms, testing, and social-distancing measures to help slow the spread7. Still, there are hundreds in our community who are suffering from housing insecurity. As with food insecurity, homelessness disproportionately impacts the black community. African-Americans make up 40% of America’s homeless population while only accounting for 13% of the total American population8. At Technomics, we recognize homelessness is a complex issue, and actions to fight against the issue aren’t necessarily as tangible as fighting hunger. However, there are ways we can help.
How to Help
Due to the recent economic decline, many non-profit organization are in need of monetary donations to continue supporting the community. Donations to Feeding America are dispersed amongst local food banks. You can also donate directly to the organizations we mentioned above, AFAC and the Capital Area Food Bank. Due to the nature of the virus, monetary donations are easier to manage than food donations for most food banks. However, both organizations allow for volunteers and for food donations. Feeding America also recommends contacting local and state representatives to make ending hunger a priority.
As mentioned previously, housing and homelessness in America is a vastly complex issue due to state and local policies. The war on poverty recedes from the national conversation, and homelessness does not receive as much attention from the media9. Raising awareness is crucial, as the first step to solving any problem is to recognize there is one. Having frank discussions with friends and family will help the spread of information, and will bring homelessness back into the national conversation. For those wanting to get more involved, donations to organizations such as the National Alliance to End Homelessness can go a long way10. Local reform is the most effective way at combating homelessness, so consider getting involved in your neighborhood action committees and attending virtual city council discussions11.
Technomics has been focused on making a positive impact in our community for many years. However, as we demand change in our society, we recognize the need to change internally. We have already begun to revamp our community service program to place additional focus on how we can further help the particularly disadvantaged. Much like our technical work, we hope Technomics’ commitment to philanthropy will serve as a benchmark for excellence.