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by Tony Moore
Phil Goropoulos ’97 is president of CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health, a Catholic Health Initiatives organization that provides children’s behavioral health services, health education and support services to children and families in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, his work has found a new way to be vital to the community, through the new Healthy Columbia Crisis Meals Initiative.
Goropoulos describes the project as a “focused community transformation project,” and it kicked off on March 17, initially serving one meal, fresh fruit and a snack to 100 residents each day. By mid-April, the program increased its reach, beginning a distribution schedule of 200 meal sets each week and bringing the total meals distributed to more than 4,000 in the Columbia community.
The work is done in conjunction with two food service providers, a restaurant and a meal prep company: Gypsy Kitchen and Fuel Madness Meals. And the relationship is truly symbiotic: The businesses help keep the community going, and the community helps keep these two small businesses in operation.
“The project—which didn’t exist prior to COVID-19 taking hold in our local community—took three days to go from an idea to a reality, providing healthy, freshly prepared meals to any resident who may have a need—regardless of income,” says Goropoulos (American studies, English), noting that the focus is on Columbia—a poor borough on the western-most tip of Lancaster County. “We’ve made a commitment to doing this as long as the crisis continues and stay-at-home restrictions are in place.”
Read more stories about how members of the Dickinson community near and far have responded to emerging needs and challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
Published April 22, 2020