The City of Espoo quickly set up food distribution during the coronavirus situation

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2020-04-17 16:08

The City of Espoo, various organisations and parishes have joined forces to provide food assistance during the coronavirus situation. Through the city’s resource pool, employees from libraries, early childhood education and social services, among others, have found work in the food assistance project. Food assistance is intended for people with a low income and people who belong to risk groups.

For Customer Service Manager Raija Hellen from Espoo City Library, the week before Easter was anything but ordinary. She had nothing to do at the library due to the coronavirus situation, but thanks to the City of Espoo employees’ resource pool, she was transferred to the distribution of food assistance.

“Hats off to Espoo. It’s wonderful what the city has done,” Raija says, describing how she feels about finding a new job. At first she was responsible for renting vehicles and getting office supplies, but since then she has also delivered the first bags of food behind clients’ doors. Someone wished her co-worker God’s blessing. According to Raija, the best thing about her work is seeing how happy it makes people.

Local distribution points

According to Hans Swahn, Customer Service Manager from Sello Library who now works as a food assistance supervisor, the city’s food assistance project started last week.

There are local points in different parts of the city, through which food is delivered and distributed. The premises have been carefully selected because they need to include good cold storage facilities. Some premises that were standing idle due to the pandemic have come back to life as the food assistance project has taken over the spaces.

“We do not yet know how many clients there will be, but we are expecting a large number of people – lonely people and families with financial difficulties,” Hans says.

The city has received food products as donations, but it can also buy food from contracted suppliers. It will use the donated and purchased items to put together bags of food.

A nutritional therapist has given recommendations as to what the food assistance bags should contain. The city has also included recipes for meatballs and macaroni casserole in the bags, for example. The bags are prepacked to ensure the highest possible level of hygiene.

The City of Espoo’s food assistance is intended for Espoo residents who have an acute and sudden need for food. The city’s goal is to make sure that people with a low income, risk groups, families with children who need special support and working-age people have food during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday 6 April 2020, the city opened a helpline that Espoo residents can call if they have questions about food assistance or other services. Please do not hesitate to call the number if you need food.

Food assistance in collaboration with organisations 

The City of Espoo, various organisations and parishes have joined forces to provide food assistance during the coronavirus situation. Through the city’s resource pool, employees from libraries, early childhood education and social services, among others, have found work in the food assistance project – and more will join them later. They will be needed to pack and distribute food bags.

Manna-Apu is an organisation that has provided food assistance for a long time, and it has also found additional workforce through the resource pool. Manna-Apu reaches some 320 Espoo residents every week.

“It is a positive thing that the city’s employees are involved. We may be able to create networks that will be useful in the future. They have been very happy to get a glimpse into a different kind of job,” says Manna-Apu’s Executive Manager Arja Pietarila about the new workers during the coronavirus situation.

The City of Espoo, parishes and food assistance organisations have worked together for several years through a food assistance coordination group.

“Thanks to the existing confidential cooperation structures, we were able to quickly launch a food assistance project that meets the residents’ needs in this critical situation,” says Tapio Nieminen, Manager of Adult Social Services at the City of Espoo.

  • Advice and assistance, tel. 09 816 22 040 (Mon–Fri 8:00–11:00). Our social welfare workers will assess your need for food assistance.
  • Espoo residents who are over 70 years of age can also contact Nestori – Guidance and Service Counselling for Senior Citizens if they need help with getting groceries. Tel. 09 816 33 333 (Mon–Fri 8:00–16:00).

Further information