Macy’s Longstanding Partnership Supports Access to Meals and Programs
For 30 years, Macy’s Partners In Time volunteers have stepped up to help Open Hand Atlanta prepare, pack and deliver millions of health-promoting meals to our medically-fragile friends and neighbors throughout Atlanta. But year after year, they have also committed to help fill gaps in funding for our programs that provide access for more at-risk individuals in dire need of our services.
This year was no exception. While Macy’s continues to provide funding for healthy, home-delivered meals, our longstanding partner has also chosen to support our efforts to leverage distance learning for vital nutrition education interventions among at-risk populations in Georgia.
While Open Hand has been providing nutrition education for decades, we have only recently begun to deliver nutrition education virtually. Due to the pandemic, we expedited the launch of our telenutrition portal, and after weeks of input from our key partners, experience mapping, content development and modification and testing, we launched with two key partners – including the Center for Black Women’s Wellness (CBWW), where we had been providing 6-week, evidence-based, Cooking Matters classes on site for several years.
The virtual classes were an instant success, even though many of the participants were not proficient with the technology required to facilitate the curriculum. Recognizing that this could prove to be an obstacle, Open Hand Cooking Matters introduced a “technology navigator” to provide personalized technical support for those challenged by technology. “Now there’s a waitlist for the program,” according to Cooking Matters instructor Marcia Rafig, “Our participants can now experience the ease of learning online, supporting one another virtually, and of course, the importance of shopping, cooking and eating healthier on an extremely limited budget.”
Since many of those we serve access clinics, health and senior centers in rural areas with inconsistent access to high-speed internet or lack equipment like smart TVs, tablets, or computers that are needed to facilitate virtual teaching and counseling, Open Hand now provides guidance and assistance (and in certain instances, equipment) in conjunction with our partners to ensure that these individuals have access to our services.
Thanks to Macy’s, Open Hand can continue to leverage all that we have learned in the deployment of virtual nutrition education programming to find the most effective way to bring our telehealth services to more underserved communities across the state of Georgia.