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Root is providing meals to seniors in Salem’s public housing, in partnership with Jewish Families & Children’s Service, (JFC&CS) Salem Housing Authority, and the City of Salem.

Many organizations and businesses have redirected their efforts and resources to come together and help communities through the coronavirus outbreak. When Salem-based Root suspended its youth training program in the culinary arts to protect the health of their participants and staff, chef Sam Hunt reached out to community leaders to see what Root could do to help during the crisis. A week later, Root began to prepare and deliver packaged, nourishing meals to seniors in Salem’s public housing in collaboration with Jewish Families & Children’s Service, Salem Housing Authority, and the City of Salem.

“It is partnerships like these that have a huge impact during a crisis and we are grateful to Mayor Driscoll, JFC&CS, and our collaborators for facilitating this program,” says Root’s executive director, M. Scott Knox. “There are people who are struggling and isolated in their homes, with little access to food. Providing these meals allows Root to meet an essential need in our community.”

Kelley Annese, Jewish Families & Children’s Service’s Outreach Coordinator says, “It is heartening to see organizations come together so seamlessly to help people in Salem. We want older adults to feel safe and taken care of so they can protect themselves and stay at home.”

By the end of the second week, Root will have delivered over 500 meals to senior residents in Salem’s public housing buildings. Funding is in place for a few more weeks through a combination of donations of food from local organizations such as the Salem Pantry and distributors including Shaheen Brothers and financial support from JF&CS and the City of Salem. Root plans to continue the program and is seeking additional funding.

“The last few weeks have challenged our community in ways that few could possibly have anticipated,” says Mayor Kim Driscoll. “As is often the case in times of adversity, however, I am amazed and humbled by how the people and organizations of Salem have united to support each other. One example of this is the dedication shown by the entire Root team in ensuring that some of our most vulnerable neighbors have consistent access to nutritious meals. I am so grateful for their work and their commitment to our community.”

Along with these meals, Root continues to check in with their trainees and graduates to provide support and guidance on everything from navigating unemployment benefits to accessing basic needs, and in some cases, meals and gift cards for groceries. “Although, our training program is on hold, Root is still a lifeline for many people and we will continue to serve our community in a mission-aligned way,” says Knox.

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