During Hispanic Heritage Month, Second Harvest is taking a moment to highlight our Partner Agencies working to address food insecurity and other issues facing Latino communities in Middle Tennessee. We recently spoke with representatives from Conexión Américas about their organization, issues facing Nashville’s latino community, and ways you can get involved and help.
What is Conexión Américas and how do you serve the community?
At Conexión Américas, our mission is to build a welcoming community and create opportunities where Latino families can belong, contribute, and succeed. Every year, we assist more than 9,000 individuals and their families in their desire to start businesses, improve their English, help their children succeed in school and go to college, and become an integral part of Nashville’s social, cultural and economic vitality. Conexión Américas is the lead partner of Casa Azafrán, a nonprofit collaborative at the gateway to Nashville’s International District that is home to Conexión Américas and nine partners.
What are the circumstances that make members of Middle Tennessee’s Hispanic communities more or less at risk of facing hunger? (If you have any statistics, that would be great!)
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity among Latinos in the United States rose from almost 16% in 2019 to more than 19% in 2020. Latinos were 2.5 times more likely to experience food insecurity than white individuals (Feeding America). We noticed similar trends in Nashville’s Latino community. Cultural and linguistic barriers often prevent many Latinos from accessing vital resources. Additionally, the economic impact of working high-contact jobs with little to no paid time off affects our families’ ability to pay for day-to-day expenses.
How did the pandemic impact Middle Tennessee Hispanic communities
The pandemic impacted Middle Tennessee’s Latino community greatly. The large majority of our families continued their high-contact jobs on the frontline with little to no paid leave. This ultimately led to increased exposure and high case counts. Despite many of our families’ commitment to jobs on the frontlines, our families faced serious challenges regarding housing inequality, specifically with rent and mortgage delinquency, evictions and foreclosures, and difficulties paying for utilities.
How is Conexión Américas addressing the issue of food insecurity and what has been the response from your clients?
Conexión Américas has been addressing the issue of food insecurity throughout the pandemic with weekly community-based food distributions, pop up food distribution sites, and food delivery services for families in quarantine. The response from our program participants has been overwhelmingly positive because we have been able to provide culturally competent ingredients at well-known community sites.
Has working with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee helped in your response?
Second Harvest has been a vital partner in our efforts to address food insecurity in the Latino community. At our weekly food distribution site and other pop up events, Second Harvest has played an integral role in connecting families with fresh produce boxes.
What can members of the community do to help Conexión Américas continue your efforts in serving your clients?
We are always searching for volunteers to help support our efforts of connecting Latino families with opportunities and resources in Nashville. Anyone who is interested in volunteering should email email@example.com.