Once the full reality of the potential community impact of COVID-19 started to dawn on public school workers and other community activists, many quickly looked to Seattle to see what types of networks had been set up to support those in the communities that were impacted the most by social distancing and stay home orders. Mutual Aid Networks were formed in North, Central, and South Jersey in response to the already evident need to assist compromised individuals in meeting basic needs, such as obtaining food and medication. Since the closure of schools in New Jersey, educators have been obtaining food donations from local restaurants, packing and delivering Food Crisis Prevention boxes, and working with the local Food Banks and Food Pantries to get food to community members that could not get it on their own.
Atlantic County member, Melissa Tomlinson is lead organizer for the Atlantic County portion of the South Jersey Mutual Aid Hub. Since schools have been closed she and other community members have been busy delivering food and assisting the Community Food Bank in making sure that families in Atlantic County are able to get the food and supplies that they need. Due to her involvement and efforts in this, the Atlantic County Council of Education Associations quickly voted to make an emergency donation to the Community Food Bank of $1000 to help meet their growing need for supplies. It is their hope that other county associations follow their lead!