Operation Nourish: Veterans Deploy to Respond to Community Needs during COVID-19
Two weeks ago we formally launched Operation Nourish in response to the grassroots effort that our veterans have been leading to feed their communities. In the month of June we supported 38 Operation Nourish projects and we continue to field requests from community partners across the country to assist during this critical time. This is precisely the type of widespread need that the veterans of The Mission Continues are adept at tackling and we are proud to see our veterans stepping up.
We’ve seen tremendous creativity and momentum spread across our veteran network as we organize our response around three pillars: distributing food, increasing food support capacity and growing food. There are now dozens of events on the calendar from coast to coast throughout July.
This week, I want to share with you two inspiring stories of The Mission Continues platoons who have continued to serve their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic. These are just two of many, many veterans who are doing what they do best—going where they are needed the most. They reached out to local partners to see where they could be helpful, rallied a team around them, and collaborated to respond to the most pressing needs in their communities.
Jeaniel Image, Tampa, FL
In Florida, nearly 3 million people are struggling with hunger—many of them children. As the country continues to fight challenges arising due to COVID-19, food pantries are struggling to meet increased demand.
Jeaniel Image, US Navy Reservist and Platoon Leader for the Tampa Platoon, led a team of volunteers to collaborate with Walter Farms and Long & Scott Farms to help harvest their surplus produce–some of which was at risk of being plowed under with no way to get it to the places it could be donated. They then redistributed those fruits and vegetables to community food banks and organizations like Feeding Tampa Bay, Homeless Empowerment Project, and more.
This is personal to Jeaniel. When she transitioned off of Active Duty with the Navy, her family relied on food pantries to augment their grocery budget. She knows this pandemic means many more Floridians have lost reliable income and access to school meals, and have begun accessing these services in greater numbers.
These veterans are providing the capacity needed to keep local supply chains up and running. They recently distributed food boxes to hundreds of waiting families—and most importantly through #OperationNourish, they’re bringing a little bit of normalcy back to many.
Sherman Watson, Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles 3rd Platoon has been partnering with the East Side Riders Bicycle Club (ESRBC) since our work in Operation Watts Is Worth it in 2018. During the COVID-19 pandemic, their focus has shifted to provide meals to the local Watts community. To date, ESRBC has served nearly 40,000 meals to local families whose children have been out of school since late March.
Platoon Leader Sherman Watson, a Marine veteran, turned his passion for service into a career working in veterans housing and support—while also co-founding a non-profit and volunteering with The Mission Continues.
During COVID-19, Sherman, along with many parents across the nation, has juggled educating his children at home while working full-time at a demanding job. The Mission Continues and Compton Veterans are out distributing hot meals every Thursday with #OperationNourish. In partnership with local volunteers, they recently served more than 800 meals in just over ONE HOUR. That’s the mission focus veterans bring to this need.
I could not be more grateful to serve alongside the thousands of veterans who have stepped up to serve their communities through COVID. Your financial support is crucial to ensure we can keep the momentum going through the more challenging “Summer Hunger” months when many children lose access to school-supported meals. We have implemented safety protocols for our gatherings and are in need of additional volunteers. If you’re ready to report for duty in your community, please visit our Operation Nourish page to find an event near you.