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Survey details concerns of vulnerable populations during pandemic

The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative has released its first results of a survey looking at what the area's most vulnerable populations are concerned about when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The above graph shows the proportion of Food and Housing related phone calls just before COVID-19 social distancing policies began. This suggests since news broke about COVID-19 211 has received and continues to receive substantially more calls than normal related to food needs. On April 12th, 37% of calls were for food.
Credit RMAPI

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Loriane Ngarambe, RMAPI’s community engagement specialist, is leading the effort. 

“We all have assumptions around what we think the main concerns may be," Ngarambe said. "But the role of community engagement is to make sure that we know firsthand what people are thinking about, worrying about and trying to figure out.”

Ngarambe said that many of the 250 responses that RMAPI has received so far focused on issues like how to get food while avoiding grocery shopping during the pandemic, and saving money as job losses mount. She said in recent weeks, she has seen an uptick in responses about the mental strain of the pandemic.

“We were like, ‘Oh, shoot,’ we were focused on food and making sure kids are taken care of at home and we realized that there’s a mental health component of this, too,” said Ngarambe.

RMAPI also looked at 2-11 call data and found that calls about food needs grew from 10 percent to 37 percent from early March to early April.

Ngarambe said the responses will be used as conversation starters for the agencies and nonprofits that make up RMAPI as they shape efforts to help the community. The survey is expected to continue throughout the pandemic.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.
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