#NCCServeWhereYouAre | Broadband’s Role in Feeding Our Neighbors

By Corian Zacher

Among the many personal necessities that broadband enables, connectivity also allows us to show up for our community. Since the pandemic began, natural and human-made disasters have ravaged municipalities across the United States. Unlike any other time in history, Internet connectivity enables communities to organize mutual aid by reaching people who might otherwise have never learned about opportunities to support their neighbors.

Combating Food Insecurity

Giving Garden OKC is a nonprofit that grows fresh produce for the Homeless Alliance, a partner organization that serves daily shelter breakfast and lunch for upwards of 400 people Monday through Friday. The nonprofit also supports local food pantries and community organizations throughout Oklahoma City. 

Jenn Maubry, who founded Giving Garden OKC, envisions the organization as one that builds community among volunteers and residents in need, expands affordable food sources, supports wellness through physical activity, and provides educational information about gardening, cooking, and nature. The gardens also support local composting and provide a safe space for pollinators. In just a few hours of volunteering, I learned a great amount about the benefits of different types of plants to the environment, the composting process, and how various cultures use vegetable parts that are frequently discarded in the U.S.

Giving Garden OKC uses a website and Facebook page where volunteers can sign-up, local businesses and nonprofits can partner on specific projects, and members of the community can learn about the organization and its mission. With Oklahoma’s notoriously unpredictable weather, its Facebook page also provides real time updates about when volunteers are needed and when the weather makes gardening impractical. 

Helping Community Cats 

As a lifelong cat lover, I frequently find myself feeding neighborhood cats. In the past, the cats were already ear-tipped, meaning that they went through the trap-neuter-release (“TNR”) process, or I was able to adopt them and have them fixed. When I moved into my current home, a family of community cats lived there that were too big to bring inside, but were young enough that no one had caught them for the TNR process. 

Through online research, I learned about best practices for caring for community cats. I also emailed the local Humane Society and set up TNR appointments for the cats that I feed, which will help them live safer, healthier lives while keeping the cat population under control. Equipped with online resources, I learned about how to rehabilitate two of the cats, who now live inside, and understand why the other two cats may be better off living outdoors. 

Every community across the United States houses people and animals that need our support to live their best lives. With a reliable Internet connection, everyone can play a role in giving back to their community in person or online. 

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