The dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has required organizations like Solid Ground to pivot their normal operations and follow the growing needs of the community. In partnership with local community organizations throughout King County, Solid Ground Transportation (SGT) has shifted to food delivery to serve people who need it most during this crisis.
SGT’s Access buses are typically used to drive people with disabilities or the elderly to places like the doctor’s office or grocery store. But during this pandemic, it has led many people to delay noncritical medical treatments and avoid going out in general, resulting in a dramatic decrease in ridership.
“With Access bus ridership down about 75% or more, we had the drivers and we had the fleet to be able to pivot and change what we’re doing to help the community.” ~Solid Ground Transportation Director Kari Ware
“With Access bus ridership down about 75% or more, we had the drivers and we had the fleet to be able to pivot and change what we’re doing to help the community,” says Solid Ground Transportation Director Kari Ware.
With the increased restrictions under Washington State’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” emergency order from Governor Jay Inslee, fewer people are able to go out to work. More people are now facing food insecurity and lack access to critical resources like food banks.
To fill this gap, SGT and King County Metro are working together with a variety of community partners across King County including: FareStart, the Filipino Community Center, the Ingersoll Gender Center, Asian Counseling & Referral Service (ACRS), Northwest Harvest, South Park Senior Center, and the White Center Food Bank. By having Access bus drivers deliver food directly to the community, this partnership is able to serve up to 10,000 people each day.
One partner we’d like to highlight is FareStart, an organization that provides job training in the food service industry that helps participants get practical work experience and one day break free from the cycle of poverty.
“As COVID-19 struck our community, FareStart temporarily closed its restaurant, cafés, and catering business (which serve as the classrooms for our job training programs) and pivoted to provide emergency meals to organizations working with vulnerable populations,” explains FareStart Marketing and Communications Director Stephanie Schoo.
Stephanie continues, “Right now, we’re producing and delivering about 5,000-6,000 emergency meals a day for 30 organizations across 70 sites in King County. DESC (Downtown Emergency Service Center), Plymouth Housing, Seattle Public Schools, and King County quarantine and isolation facilities are just some of the organizations we are supporting. Solid Ground and the Access buses are helping us augment our own vehicles to deliver meals to the community. Needless to say, we’re thrilled to partner with you and are grateful for all the help your drivers and buses are providing.”
“You can’t imagine the pride I feel working for Solid Ground Transportation and in particular, our new food delivery mission. Extending the helping hand has always been what Solid Ground is about, and I’m humbled to be part of the team in a strange time like this.” ~Michael James Hawk, SGT Driver
Most importantly, we must also recognize that this work could not be done without the dedication of the SGT Access bus drivers. These remarkable people are working on the frontlines, acting as the crucial link between organizations providing food and the community members who need it.
While food delivery is not exactly the job they were hired for, SGT drivers recognize this work resonates with the Solid Ground mission and have stepped up to serve the changing needs of the community.
SGT Driver Michael James Hawk shares, “You can’t imagine the pride I feel working for Solid Ground Transportation and in particular, our new food delivery mission. Extending the helping hand has always been what Solid Ground is about, and I’m humbled to be part of the team in a strange time like this.”
For more information on Solid Ground’s response during this pandemic, check out our Coronavirus Response webpage, and find Seattle, King County, and Washington State information and resources on our Coronavirus Resources webpage.