View the video below for an update on our response to the increased demand for food as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. CEO Andrew Schiff is joined by Rilwan Feyisitan, Executive Director of the Community Action Partnership of Providence, a member agency of the Food Bank, to discuss the challenges both organizations face as we ensure no one in Rhode Island goes hungry.
"We are literally all hands on deck.”
- Rilwan Feyisitan, Executive Director
Community Action Partnership of Providence (CAPP)
CAPP's food pantry was only open in their new location one month before COVID-19 hit Rhode Island. The agency provides a wide range of social services and resources to neighbors on the south side of the city, an area hard hit by the pandemic.
“The need has been phenomenal," says Rilwan, shown here preparing food for distribution. "It’s been an unprecedented time. Half of our normal staff are not working during this time. We are actually standing up and manning our pantry with senior staff and a handful of volunteers. We are literally all hands on deck making sure we are taking care of the thousand plus people who are coming through our doors.”
Adapting During the Crisis
CAPP only recently moved to a new location, a larger building and former community center with a huge kitchen and storage area, and space for community meals. With only a few weeks of operation under their belt, they radically shifted their procedures to allow for social distancing and safe food pickup. These measures have paid off, and they are able to serve more guests than ever before, safely.
Again, Rilwan shares, “It’s an interesting time. I have a public health background and spent many years looking at social determinants of health, looking at food insecurity and looking at the many other issues that affect our communities.”
Rilwan reported that many of the guests coming to his agency are new, often seeking food assistance for the first time.
“What has been really eye opening is that from April 3 to May 20, we had 1,033 pantry recipients coming through our doors. Of those, 601 were new to our pantry. We are really happy that we can say we’ve not had to turn anyone away; everyone is getting those basic needs met.”
Click below to watch the pre-recorded town hall:
Thank you to the Mr. Schiff and the Food Bank for highlighting CAPP and the ways we are continuing to serve Providence residents in need!
Above text reposted from a communication directly from the RICFB
A Statement from our Executive Director- Rilwan Feyisitan, Jr.
The recent unlawful killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, along with countless others by those sworn to uphold the law and preserve life has left us collectively feeling like we can’t breathe. Our country and state is being forced again to confront our nations well established history of systemic racism and oppression of certain groups. We are ever reminded as a country that our perfect union is not perfect for so many in our society.
It took me some time to formulate this response. I like many of you are going through the gambit of emotions ranging from hurt, anger, emboldened, and empathy for those in the black community that fall victim to these unjustified murders that don’t always make the national news cycles. I share my birthday with the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I am often drawn to his writings during times like this. I think we are all trying to find our way during these dark times. You will see several quotes from Dr. King Jr. (MLK) that I reference that help me to have some semblance of clarity in these challenging times.
I like many of you had been consumed in recent months by how to meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us during a global pandemic. CAPP serves our Capitol City and Providence County, which has by far the most COVID-19 positive cases in the state. We see the disproportionate impact on black and brown communities of color and the undocumented in our state as well. CAPP unapologetically supports Black Lives Matter. We also recognize the issues of systematic sanctioned brutality, racism and oppression must be addressed for all those marginalized and targeted in our nation.
Dr. King said: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
CAPP’s Board of Directors and staff stand in solidarity with the Black Community and those demanding acknowledgement and accountability for the devaluation and dehumanization of Black life at the hands of the police and other established systems of oppression. The trauma, fear and grief the black community is feeling is real and ever present. We also acknowledge that organized protest and development of a community voice are part of our great democracy and often help to advance positive change. They should not become synonymous with looting and criminal activity when the Black community exercises its’ right to free speech. Let your truth be heard. Civil disobedience is not new for our state or nation. It is our collective responsibility of ours to listen and advance positive changes.
“A riot is the language of the unheard.” MLK
What is CAPP’s response and how are we moving forward?
We are committed first to having a safe space within our organization that supports ongoing learning and creates greater empathy and understanding. Cultural humility and emotional intelligence trainings are required across the organization. Our leadership team and I are doing an even deeper dive into transformational diversity and inclusion work. One of our partners shared something they read that resonated with me as well “Educate yourself. This doesn’t go away once the topic isn’t trending. Racism is a problem too complex and too painful to simply make a statement and then continue with a ‘business as usual’ mindset. We’re approaching this as a journey – one where we will need to continue learning and driving action over time. “CAPP too is creating safe spaces to spark frank conversations among our partners and residents about race, systemic injustice and the best ways we can learn, empathize, act and drive lasting change.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.” MLK
CAPP will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to collaborate on the development and execution of effective programs and systems that can address racism and poverty. Racism and Poverty often intersect for disenfranchised and marginalized people and communities at the same point of struggle. CAPP will lead or join in coalition with those that work to address systemic oppression and racism as root cause for preventable societal issues like but not limited to – food insecurity, housing insecurity, access to quality education, unemployment, and adequate healthcare.
For those leaders and organizations not moved to address the senseless murders of unarmed black people and oppressed people of any identity. I remind you of this quote from Dr. King Jr.
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” MLK
We find ourselves in challenging and unprecedented times. The anger and civil unrest that we are witnessing across the country and in our own state was a long coming. The senseless killing of George Floyd and others is not new to the Black community. Racism, profiling, and tolerance of this behavior has had a collective impact on the Black Community and communities of color in general. It’s pervasive and should be unacceptable in this state and any country.
I leave you with this final quote-
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Community Action Partnership of Providence program updates during COVID-19
updated as of 12/2/2020
Residents in the 02905 and 02907 zip codes are able to receive food from the pantry at 807 Broad Street on Wednesdays from 10 am to 2 pm. Seniors and disabled residents can arrive earlier at 9:30 am.
Contact: Kymara (Pantry Coordinator) ext 302, Rosairis (Pantry Assistant) ext 313
Senior activities suspended until further notice. We know our seniors depend on CAPP to provide them with meals during the week so staff has decided to start delivering meals, food pantry items and wellness checks to the homes of program participants. Circumstances are changing rapidly so these accommodations for residents will last for as long as is feasible.
Contact: Norma ext 186
VITA services are suspended until further notice. The VITA Coordinator will be answering call and emails on Thursdays. Contact Wendy Ext 143 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhode Island Works Program
RIW enrolled participants' office/home visits suspended until further notice.
RIW Case Managers will work enrolled residents remotely. They will provide residents with work or activities they can complete from home. If a parent is/was scheduled for a training that has been canceled or suspended due to COVID-19. Case managers will work with participants on completing remote work/activities while waiting for a new training or the training to resume.
LIHEAP (Heating Assistance ) and Good Neighbor Energy Fund (GNEF)
The heating assistance program will be taking applications by phone and only seeing residents in crisis in person at 518 Hartford. If a resident is exhibiting symptoms of sickness, they will be asked to leave and only return after being symptom-free for 24 hours. If you need to renew your application, you can send us your paperwork by mail (CAPP 518 Hartford Avenue Providence, RI 02909) OR drop off your paperwork in the one of the two drop boxes at our office.
Smart Optional Solutions (SOS)
SOS coaches will continue to conduct phone interviews and mailing information to residents already enrolled in the program.
Center for Justice
Housing legal assistance Clinic is suspended until further notice
Diapers distribution suspended at 518 Hartford . Diapers will be available at the Food Pantry.
SNAP Case Manager
Services suspended until further notice
National Grid Advocate
Services suspended until further notice
The Resident Navigator– Lizayda will be pre-screening residents requesting rental assistance over the phone and schedule office appointments after April 17, 2020. In the meantime, the governor put a hold on evictions until further notice.
Program suspended until further notice.
Weatherization audits/home visits are suspended until further notice. We are ONLY addressing no heating emergency situations.
Contact: Dayanarah Ext 161
Education and Training
Bookkeeping class will continue as scheduled remotely with online access using ZOOM.
Contact: Brittany Ext 131
Scheduled monthly meetings thru ZOOM.
Contact: Bruce Ext 127
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the heating season, which would normally end on May 1, is being extended from May 2 through June 1.
Eligible NEW APPLICANTS to the program can apply for primary grants or a crisis grant during this extension period.
Households eligible for a third crisis grant will receive it.
Call 401.273.2000 and ask to speak with a Benefit Eligibility Specialist TODAY! Callers will be helped between the hours of 9-3 Monday through Friday. We are experiencing a high volume of calls and we appreciate your patience. If you are unable to get through, please wait a few minutes and try again.
Our BES can fill out your application with you over the phone, you will still need to submit copies of the required documents. You have the option of mailing them to our office:
518 Hartford Avenue Providence, RI 02909
or you can drop them off in the secure grey mailbox outside our building.
The required documents are:
Please note that your application cannot be processed without all of these documents above.
Click here for the eligible income guidelines.
Effective immediately, we will not meet with residents face-to-face unless they are submitting a new application, have oil heat or if their National Grid services have been turned off. All other Residents are being asked to file their application over the phone by calling 401.273.2000. You can mail in the required documents or use the 24/7 drop box outside our office at 518 Hartford Avenue, Providence.
CAPP is doing everything we can to continue offering services to Providence residents. Like everyone else, we are deeply concerned about the effects of COVID-19 and we are taking the following precautions:
If you are sick, or have had contact with someone who is sick PLEASE do not come to CAPP until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours. If you come into the office and we suspect that you are sick, you will be asked to go home. We will schedule a phone appointment for you or you can come back when you are feeling better.
Taking applications over the phone will cause delays in service but we are reassigning some staff members to cover the phone lines to help as many residents as possible.
We thank you in advance for your patience. If the line is busy when you call, please wait a few minutes and call back.
We are here for you as we always have been.