Even in normal times, trying to raise a family in our corner of rural New York often isn’t easy. Many of our families struggle to put food on the table.
But when the COVID-19 crisis hit, everything changed. Food security became an even more important issue. While Unadilla Valley CSD has been able to continue serving meals for our students through home delivery during the week, Preferred Mutual of New Berlin has stepped up to offer additional support.
The insurance company, which has been subject to the building density-work from home requirements prompted by New York on Pause, had a kitchen and food available. UV families had a need. Preferred has been providing a healthy, delicious selection of food each Wednesday to augment UV’s backpack program, which reaches 50 children to provide a week’s worth of food.
UV Student Advocate Kevin Nial, who has helped manage UV’s remote feeding program since the crisis began, said Preferred launched their community service project because they had a kitchen and a means to prepare food, but no employees to serve it to.
“We were so excited when Preferred reached out to us and offered their services to help provide food for people during this difficult time. Preferred wanted to create meals that would sustain families in need,” Nial said. “We immediately thought that this would be a great adjunct to our existing Backpack Program. We have for the past three years provided meals to Unadilla Valley families in need and the need during this crisis is even higher with some people not working, having difficulty getting out and other such struggles.”
Each week UV staff members pick up food from Preferred and deliver it back to the school where it becomes incorporated into the Backpack Program and delivered directly to UV families. Menu items have included items such as herb roasted pork loin, mashed potatoes and gravy, butternut squash casserole and a variety of deli meat and cheese.
“By the way, the meals that Preferred have provided are getting rave reviews by the recipients, even to the point where some have asked for recipes,” Nial said.
Preferred’s example is one of many seen by our school community, as many individuals and businesses have stepped up to help UV families in this time of increased need.
“Caring for our customers, our employees and our communities is at the core of our culture at Preferred Mutual. Working with Unadilla Valley to help our community Live Assured during these uncertain times was a natural partnership,” said Beth DeMarco, Preferred’s manager of corporate communications and consumer research.
“We’re happy we were able to be involved with such a great effort to support local students and families during this pandemic.”