In Berkeley, there are numerous students from low-income backgrounds that frequently source groceries and other food items from the Berkeley Student Food Collective. Current social-distancing and shelter-in-place policies have caused the Berkeley Student Food Collective and many of these similar services and organizations in the Berkeley area to slow or cease operations. Furthermore, some of our team members have directly witnessed increased instances of domestic abuse, which limits a victim’s resources, network, and safe spaces, as a result of the shelter-in-place state mandates. Finally, not only has there been confusion among local communities, but the constant reports of people panic-buying groceries and other household amenities has thrown the availability of common necessities into jeopardy.
We were interested if similar problems were plaguing other communities, and through researching numerous current statistics and articles, found that many low-resource families are facing major problems associated with securing food, health care, utilities, and support. The problem is also most likely exacerbated by harm to local businesses and current job-loss trends.
We were inspired by the Berkeley Community Help Doc, a short-lived Google Sheet where local students would list resources they found or provided, as well as the many communities and groups across the globe that have been attempting to do something similar. We sought inspiration from European food-waste-reduction and volunteer-delivery services, like Fikk, Pool Farm, HelpingHands, and Karma.
However, we noticed an extreme disconnect in well-intentioned initiatives and a lack of central organization; an oversaturation of tiny databases for different resources made finding exactly what you needed extremely difficult.
We decided to model our centralized platform, the COVID Collective, after the Berkeley spreadsheet, in order to connect people who would contribute their resources to those who are in need - those who are most impacted by necessary pandemic policies.