Social distancing and self-quarantining are on the rise with nearly 30 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the Greater Houston area as of March 16. Metta Archilla-Ishida said many elderly and otherwise immunocompromised individuals are not able to pick up groceries they might need.
“We don't want them wondering about their next meal, taking chances with their weakened immune systems in crowded stores or not having the ability to withstand long lines,” she said. “We want them to know we will bring supplies to their doorstep, safely and securely using care in upholding the integrity of best sanitary practices.”
Archilla-Ishida founded the Cypress Area Eats Facebook group in 2017 as more than a venue to share local restaurant recommendations and personal recipes, but also as a philanthropic venture. She said the group partners with Cy-Fair Helping Hands each year to hold a food drive, and volunteers from the Facebook group helped serve thousands of first responders and displaced homeowners during Hurricane Harvey.
Now the group has launched a mobile CAE Care Team to deliver groceries and other supplies to senior citizens and others who might be quarantined. Serving 23 individuals in the first two days, Archilla-Ishida said dozens of Facebook group members have volunteered to help donate, purchase, sort and deliver items from Waller to The Woodlands.
She said she hopes the initiative instills a sense of calm during a chaotic time.
“When the founders launched this food group, it was decided we would do so with a purpose,” she said. “We were in agreement that it just made sense if we were blessed enough to eat well and indulge in the sight, smell, taste and nourishment of food every day, we would be honored to humbly help those that hunger.”
Items such as vegetables, fruits, dry goods, dairy, eggs, protein, frozen food and toilet paper have been donated or purchased for individuals in need, and Archilla-Ishida said volunteers are also mindful of food allergies.
Volunteers go through safety precautions, including washing and sanitizing their hands, wearing masks and gloves, and not making physical contact with those being served.
Kimberly Gullick Barnett got connected with Cypress Area Eats after she launched a Facebook group of her own March 15. Within the first 20 hours, the Cypress COVID-19 Assistance & Information Facebook group had nearly 300 members.
“I was just sitting here thinking ... there’s a lot of people out there that are [immunocompromised], and it’s scary. They feel like they’re alone,” Gullick Barnett said. “Why not reach out? My thought process is we should be doing this all the time—not just in times like these.”
The group was designed to help Cypress residents communicate individual needs and pertinent coronavirus updates as well as connecting to offer help.
“I think we all need to do our part,” she said. “I just think the world would be a better place.”
Those interested in volunteering with or receiving assistance from Cypress Area Eats’ mobile team can join the group or message Archilla-Ishida directly on Facebook.