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Feeding neighbors through the power of social media

Feeding neighbors through the power of social media

Feeding neighbors through the power of social media
November 13
16:30 2020

“Denton Feed Our Neighbors Project” is a Facebook group dedicated to helping Denton citizens who are in need, mainly through sharing goods, services and outside resources. Denton resident Betsi Good started the group in early July of this year, as she was inspired by COVID-19 and a similar group called “Buy Nothing.”

“The idea [of ‘Buy Nothing’] is people share things that they already have,” Good said. “And so there was a lot of food sharing going on. And I noticed during the pandemic that a lot of people were experiencing some food insecurity.”

In the “Buy Nothing” group, members are not allowed to share outside resources or anything that requires them to purchase something, such as food pantries or offer to buy groceries. Good created the “Denton Feed Out Neighbors Project” in order to provide these things.

“They literally mean buy nothing,” Good said. “But I wanted to be able to offer to put in small grocery orders for people or get little gift cards or stuff like that. I decided that they had a really cool thing going on, but it didn’t work for what I wanted. So I started a group that had a little bit more freedom than offering other resources as well as what you already had at home.”

In the Facebook group, people called “givers” can post about things they have extra of and want to share or post about offering to buy items for others. Then, those who come across the post and find that they are in need of those items or services can comment and private message the original poster.

“I think this [group] allows us an opportunity to be able to reach out to our neighbors we may never have even said ‘Hello’ to before,” giver Darya Haghi said. “And get closer to them [and] reach out a helping hand and bond over a shared mutual trust and connection of we’re all going through the same thing.”

Those who come across the post and find they are in need of those items or services can comment and private message the original poster. These “receivers,” as they are called in the group, can also post about things they are in need of. If they are not comfortable posting themselves, Good said they can reach out to her and she will post anonymously for them.

“Once I posted my post in the group,” an anonymous receiver said. “I received messages on [Facebook] messenger. Wonderful people that I didn’t know came to my home. I couldn’t believe the bounty of food we received.”

The anonymous receiver said they came across the group because their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits were not able to be renewed and that they had no car, but the only food pantries they could find were drive-thru pantries, where people can drive up and volunteers put food boxes into their cars.

“Unfortunately, they are still behind on processing SNAP applications to this day,” they said. “With [the Health and Human Services Commission] behind on renewing or establishing SNAP benefits […] one is forced to find food pantries or other food sources. There are families that fall apart. Families that are embarrassed to ask for help. Parents separating due to the stress of not able to provide food on the table, pay rent or other bills.”

By providing support for fellow neighbors, the group has also fostered some friendships even during COVID-19.

“Through similar groups, I’ve been able to find people just to say ‘Hi’ to,” Haghi said. “You know, sometimes people forget to say ‘Hi’ to their own neighbors or they don’t really socialize or anything like that. But I have gotten to meet some new people as a result of [these groups], and that’s a pretty nice thing for me. I’m really glad this group is around.”

Right now, the group has 332 members, and Good hopes it will continue growing.

“My goal is to have a group that’s big enough that if anybody asks for help, there are enough people there that they’ll receive that help,” she said. “I just hope that the group is big enough that nobody ever asks for something and doesn’t receive it.”

Later down the line, she also hopes to set up a stand where people can come by to pick up what they need.

“It would be really cool if there were bigger opportunities to maybe deliver food for other people or set up a little mini produce stand,” Good said. “That would be really cool. To have a spot where people can come physically pick up food.”

Courtesy Denton Feed Our Neighbors Project Group

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Kelly Tran

Kelly Tran

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