Healthy Homes: Access to Food

Can a home be classified as “healthy” if there’s no food there? If you remember back to our interview with our Employment Services Director Kelsey, she said a healthy home should provide for someone’s basic needs. The five basic needs are food, water, clothing, sleep and shelter. Not everyone is able to get these on their own or know where to go for help when they are experiencing homelessness. In order to learn how Willis Dady’s Outreach Team helps people in need of food and other basic items, I sat down with Street Outreach Case Manager, Crystal Carter.

Q: What types of services or support does the Outreach Team provide?

We ask what they need help with. If they don’t know how to apply for food stamps and they need them, we can help with that. We also make sure they know where to go to get free meals around the community in the meantime. We help clients get their IDs or birth certificates if they need replacements and apply for social security disability. We also add them to the priority list to be assigned a case manager to help with housing. In the meantime we make sure they have necessities like blankets and snack foods.

Q: You mentioned snack foods. Does Willis Dady have a food pantry?

We are only able to carry some of the essential items – things like granola or protein bars and food that doesn’t require cooking. These are available to any clients who need them but are especially important for outreach clients to have.

Q: Do outreach clients have the means to cook or prepare their own food?

No, they don’t have access to stove or microwave most of the time. That’s why nonperishable food that doesn’t need to be cooked is really helpful.

Q: How would you define a healthy home?

A healthy home has access to a warm place and a hot meal.

Q: What’s the first step for a client to get a healthy home or support for housing in general?

People can reach out to Shelter Services at 319-366-7999 to be connected to housing assistance and to get into a shelter. If they need support in meeting basic needs in the meantime, or know someone who needs support, get ahold of our outreach team. Clients can reach out to our outreach team directly or ask the front desk to refer them.

Check out this article from Housing Matters to read more about the connection between housing and food: https://housingmatters.urban.org/articles/how-stable-affordable-housing-can-help-tackle-food-insecurity.