Filling the Need for Disadvantaged Communities

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Filling the Need for Disadvantaged Communities

By Brian McWilliams
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They may have flown under the radar in some circles, but Bay Area-based nonprofit Moms Against Poverty (MAP) is making an impact, both in Alameda and also on a global scale. The organization, which states a mission to “nurture and educate underprivileged children to their fullest potential, so that one day they can contribute and lead within their own communities and break the cycle of poverty,” has helped over 2 million children and families worldwide while also providing aid right here at home.

Moms Against Poverty, which was founded in 2008 by Delfarib Fanaie along with friends who were inspired by her personal experience adopting a child from a very impoverished section of Iran, provides children and families’ basic needs, such as food, shelter, healthcare and education in 16 countries. The organization spent a large amount of focus on education pre-covid, as a means to lift disadvantaged youth out of the cycle of poverty. However, especially in the local region, covid’s impact on local economies and with food scarcity for impacted communities spurred an adjustment to the mission and the embodiment of the “fill the gap” philosophy to which Moms Against Poverty adheres.

“It’s always a dance, when you are dealing with the needs of people, all of whom have different circumstances,” said MAP Principal Founder and CEO Delfarib Fanaie. “As an organization, we may have one goal in mind at the start but as we speak with communities, with schools, with shelters, we find that what people really need to get through everyday life is very varied. With that in mind, we simply said that our goal is now to ‘fill the gap,’ and provide whatever is needed as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.”

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty Some thirty-eight  percent of children in the United States are part of low-income households and one-in-five are poor.  MAP works with over thirty regional schools, shelters and volunteer organizations and twelve in Alameda specifically to address nutritional and basic needs gaps for children in our region who fall into these categories.

One such relationship is with the Castro Valley Unified School District, and Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi, who has worked with MAP for three years.

“The support Moms Against Poverty has provided our district has made a huge difference in what we have been able to offer families who need support, ” said Ahmadi. “We have had some other partners in the past, but working with MAP is a wraparound package. Food, hygiene, washers and dryers, really whatever we need are provided we have an ongoing communication line open with them at all times.”

Superintendent Ahmadi continues, “MAP will be given at 3 school sites, including washer-dryer units so that families can come in, get the food, toys and basic goods they need as well as be able to wash the family’s clothes. Something unique about working with MAP compared to so many other organizations that mean well, and will supply a large donation of food with no plans for storage or refrigeration, is the full solution MAP provides. When we worked with them, they said, ‘we will give you the food, and the freezers, and install everything for you. It’s seamless and makes saying ‘yes’ very easy.

MAP’s work with Castro Valley Unified is one example, but the goal holds true for almost every district. There are tremendous needs that economically disadvantaged families can’t meet. But when these families are able to take care of basic needs, the students have a far greater chance to be successful.

In addition to these “resource rooms” Moms Against Poverty has also stepped up with provisions of weekly or bi-weekly food boxes throughout the community. Especially as covid continues to ravage supply chains, which impacts larger food banks and food scarcity, MAP has found this to be a desperate need for many.

“We are packing and delivering food boxes to try to lift some of that weight off of people in the community who are feeling the impact of vastly higher food prices, on top of razor thin family budgets,” said Ladan Judge, COO of MAP. “Malnutrition in young children has been shown to have a deep impact on cognitive development, so we are doing everything we can to help the kids in our community stay healthy, stay fed and stay on track for a bright future.”

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A child that is nourished is a child ready to learn.

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