Beyond the Basics is an Urban Alliance initiative to help churches and organizations reach and serve people who are lacking food, clothing, or housing so they meet their basic needs and gain greater stability in their lives. UA currently partners with more than 35 churches and organizations to equip and strengthen their basic needs programs. These programs serve hundreds of thousands of people each year.
As a result of the impact of COVID-19 on families, food insecurity has increased dramatically, particularly among households with children and people of color, and many families are accessing food pantries and other basic needs programs for the first time. Consequently, UA’s capacity building support has become even more critical in the past year during the pandemic.
There are many types of support and services offered through UA that has helped program and ministry leaders respond to community needs:

  • To help programs offer services in a safe manner, UA has provided 26 programs with Personal Protective Equipment toolkits, each containing face masks and shields, hand sanitizer, and a standing hand sanitizer dispenser.  
  • To meet an increased demand for food assistance, UA has partnered with World Vision to distribute boxes of fresh food through more than 25 programs as part of the USDA’s Farmers to Families program.
  • To build awareness and knowledge around how to help marginalized groups of people, UA has provided training and resources on supporting immigrants and refugees.
  • To help connect people to needed community programs, UA has provided training, resource guides, and supported resource coaches at food pantries.

To support an even deeper impact on families in need, UA has provided training, resources, and technical assistance to two coaches, representing The Bridge of Our Savior Lutheran Church and CT Transition House at Bible Way Temple Nation. These coaches have helped families achieve greater life stability through case management and other supportive services, like financial coaching. As one coach shared, “In the beginning we try to see if they need any community resources, but they’ve appreciated being able to work on goals. I think a lot of them have not done that before so that’s been very helpful to them…I’ve been amazed at the strides that most of them have made and see progress with so many of them, and that’s been rewarding.” This effort was part of a pilot program, developed in partnership with Feeding America and Foodshare’s Institute for Hunger Research & Solutions, which leveraged evidence-based strategies and professional expertise to implement and evaluate coaching programs serving food pantry clients.