Timesheraldonline.com: “Sharif Aly: COVID-19 and investments”
The following is an excerpt from an article posted in the Timesheraldonline.com in May 2020:
Poverty, hunger, and access to quality health care are large enough problems to deal with during seemingly normal times.
In the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, those social issues are significantly magnified, as it inadvertently spotlights the systemic or endemic inequities that exist in some of America’s communities. Vallejo and its surrounding communities are no exception.
Thus, it is essential during this anxiety-filled period that all sectors of our society — government, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, faith communities, academia, among others — pull together and collectively find solutions.
Islamic Relief USA, a humanitarian and advocacy organization, has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Islamic Center of Vallejo, located at 1181 Lewis Ave. The grant will help the center administer its social services in the wake of COVID-19 to assist more people (regardless of their faith) in obtaining things like food parcels and hygiene kits.
Both of those items speak to the larger issues of food security and public health. In Solano County, where Vallejo is located, more than 18,000 children go hungry. And while Vallejo is considered an affluent community, it also has a poverty rate of 15.4 percent.
In California alone, nearly 100,000 jobs have been lost since March due to COVID-19, the largest decline since the Great Recession in 2009. Given that statistic, it’s likely more people will need help obtaining food and health care.
These realities suggest we have to continually support the nutritional and health programs that help preserve or improve a community’s well-being. If COVID-19 has shown anything, it is the importance of long-term investment over short-term savings, the latter of which is usually achieved through cuts in services or compromises in quality.
It is encouraging to see temporary delivery services set up to provide goods (groceries, for example) to adults who are not able to leave their homes because of the outbreak. These types of programs are evident of the compassion that is necessary to get through difficult times.
Over the years, officials representing Vallejo in Congress have expressed opposition to cuts proposed by the federal government to SNAP, among other vital programs, saying that doing so would deprive senior citizens and children of their necessary meals.
It appears that some of the proposals to scale back SNAP won’t go into effect. At least, not immediately.
The coronavirus pandemic has also spotlighted the need for a strong public health infrastructure, as early detections and immunizations can help prevent some of our most vulnerable populations from suffering serious illnesses. However, because of funding shortfalls, public health services throughout the state have been cut over the past decade.
The outbreak is a reminder of the risks of eliminating such services.
COVID-19 is likely to teach the different pillars of our society a myriad of lessons. But one of the key points it has already shown is the importance of investing and continually supporting quality safety net programs in order to be well-positioned to cope with unpredictable events. We call on all elected officials, regardless of party, to take this into consideration.