In 15 weeks, Better Family Life (BFL) has hosted 16 Mobile Markets – either at their base on Page Blvd. or partnering with neighborhood churches in underserved communities across St. Louis. Since 1983, Better Family Life has been working to stabilize inner-city neighborhoods by building strong families and vibrant communities through hope, comprehensive services, and meaningful opportunities.
Like a majority of organizations, Better Family Life quickly switched up some of their programs once the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Up until COVID-19, BFL hosted cookouts through their Boots on the Ground program in various neighborhoods that were about much more than delivering a meal. They also offered several connections to health and human resources as well. With the stay-at-home orders in place by mid-March, the need to support people in many of these fragile neighborhoods became even more necessary. BFL knew they had to continue to bring resources directly into neighborhoods.
We caught up with Better Family Life during their June 11 Mobile Market on St. Louis Avenue at the Original Friendship Baptist Church.
Tyrone Turner, vice president of Housing and Community Outreach with Better Family Life told us they “needed to make connecting people to resources more palatable by partnering with St. Louis Area Foodbank, churches, and others” during the pandemic.
He went on to say that many people “need help but aren’t sure how to access it or if [they’] should access it. To have that mental burden to make those decisions is part of this whole entire crisis. There are people who have never been in a position to need in the way that they need. You have to account for the mental toll that takes on a person.”
It’s a Movement
Having Better Family Life, along with the Foodbank’s Mobile Market and other partners BFL brought on – including St. Louis Crisis Nursery and Larson’s Medical Supply-First Aid & Safety, was nothing short of a movement for Pastor Jevon Mann of Original Friendship Missionary Baptist Church whose parking lot was the site for this day’s Mobile Market. “It means so much to the community because this community had been so stagnant for so long. It seems as no one cares for them, so this has been a blessing to our community,”
Fed Thousands Already
Better Family Life has already served more than 10,000 families between the end of March through June this year through the Mobile Markets.
Turner shared that the food received from the Foodbank is “always superb quality. Everyone should have access to fresh produce.”
He also believes that the more Mobile Markets there are will help “offset the stigma of needing help. We all need help. I don’t know anyone in existence who hasn’t needed help at some point.”
Reports that African-Americans are more susceptible to COVID-19 have been circulating for months now. And while we’re still learning the effects of COVID-19 daily, it’s documented that better nutrition is important in aiding people to combat this disease (and others) and also helps those who recover.
Making sure that “African Americans in the St. Louis region are placed in a better position to have their health be a priority” is just one of Better Family Life’s goals according to Turner. “Food is the first line of defense to creating a healthy body. So if you don’t have a healthy body it’s hard for your immune system to even function properly. Right now with this pandemic is having its way with people who might not have a strong immune system.”
Turner went on to say, “What can we do as an organization, with other organizations, to help promote healthier eating?”
One way Better Family Life is already doing so is by partnering with the St. Louis Area Foodbank and empowering people to think about healthy eating and living.