Organizations across our local community here in Dane County, Wisconsin, are stepping up to support those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis is leaving some of the most vulnerable in our community at risk, and an unprecedented number of people are without work or access to food. Here are some of the ways Epic is pitching in to help.
Together with UW Health and UnityPoint Health–Meriter, we’ve transformed our old headquarters into a daycare for children of healthcare workers. The center is staffed by UW Health and Meriter employees and the children are given free, nutritious meals from our culinary team.
Meals are planned for staff on Epic’s campus weeks in advance, which meant that when Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order went into effect and many staff began working from home, there was suddenly a surplus of food being delivered to the campus. Through the local nonprofit organization Badger Prairie Needs Network, the culinary team has been able to turn this food into prepackaged meals and redirect it to local food pantries so that the food doesn’t go to waste. From March 16 to April 16, we donated 47,000 pounds of food, which equates to 39,200 meals.
Our culinary team is also partnering with UnityPoint Health-Meriter, GHC, and Dean Health Plan to provide hundreds of meals, fresh bread, and bakery items each week to those in need. The healthcare organizations are paying for the cost of the food and distributing them to front-line health care workers and Medicare patients.
For those who are experiencing homelessness, Madison-based organizations like Porchlight are providing much-needed shelter and medical services. We recently held a supply drive to collect toilet paper, gloves, sanitizing equipment, infrared thermometers, and iPads for Porchlight. The thermometers and iPads help Porchlight staff screen residents for COVID-19 symptoms and document the screenings digitally.
Our staff have also stepped in during their free time to volunteer. Some are working as drivers for Meals on Wheels and Thea’s Table. Others have been packing food for Second Harvest, sewing masks, and coordinating donations of electronic items to expanding hospitals.
In partnership with local farmers, we started a curbside pick-up program for Epic staff to purchase produce. After a surge of orders, our longtime culinary partner R.E. Golden Produce was able to hire back all laid-off employees. Elegant Foods and Neesvig’s, also longtime local partners of the Epic culinary team, have been inspired to start similar curbside pickup programs.
Our partners are making a real difference for those in need, and we will continue to do our part to help our community make it through the impact of this pandemic on their daily lives. We encourage others who may want to volunteer to check out opportunities throughout the country.