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Frontline Healers East Oakland Collective ‘Protectors of the Last Frontier’ Extend Food Service During COVID-19 Pandemic

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EOC member Nicole Bratton distributing fresh meals on 75th Ave. in East Oakland.

Oakland has experienced high rates of displacement and gentrification of Black neighborhoods, and deep East Oakland is where the largest population of Black residents reside.

According to the 2010 U.S Census data, approximately 109,862 people live in deep East Oakland that encompasses city districts 6, 7, and part of 5, an area severely underserved, and one that suffers from long-standing disinvestment and lack of resources.

East Oakland Collective’s purpose is to get ahead of the curve of gentrification, prevent further displacement, and stabilize Black neighborhoods.

East Oakland Collective (EOC) is a member-based community organization, which is part of a consortium of more than 25 agencies called Frontline Healers, which serves communities of deep East Oakland by working towards racial and economic equity.

“Prior to COVID-19 we were already a front line rapid response agency, providing food, supplies and advocacy primarily in East Oakland,” said EOC Founder and Executive Director Candice Elder. “Since COVID-19, we had to re-imagine our programs. People throughout Oakland now need our service.”

Unfortunately, at a time when the need is greatest, EOC lost its food source, Elder explained.

“We relied on food donation from Silicon Valley caterers whose businesses have been impacted. Their loss of business caused us the loss of access to those caterers.”

EOC could no longer do its Feed the Hood and weekly hot meal distribution programs where hundreds of volunteers provided 3,000 bag lunches every six weeks and 400 hot meals every week.

“COVID-19 changed that paradigm, so we started over with one restaurant making donations — Aburaya, Japanese Fried Chicken — then more restaurants starting donating until EOC was invited to pick up food from the Community Food Kitchen program started by Lucas Tap Room. For Gov. Newsom’s first 45-day, shelter-in-place orders, we were picking up and serving food every day.

“We are now extending our services across Oakland by providing thousands of hot lunches in addition to (Personal Protection Equipment) kits,” Elder said.

EOC has expanded its service base and now serves people with compromised immune systems, low-income families of color and seniors.

EOC provides over 1,000 meals a week to over 500 residents. They deliver Monday through Friday to unhoused brothers and sisters and do door-front delivery Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays to seniors and families that don’t have transportation.

If people wish to pick up at the EOC office they may do so from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 7800 MacArthur Blvd.

EOC also provides diapers, baby food, hygiene and household supplies.

EOC is supporting an emergency shelter program that is currently providing hotel rooms for over 30 seniors and families.

Elder says “We hope the community will join us in stabilizing Oakland’s most vulnerable populations, our no-to-low income brothers and sisters.”

Oaklanders who wish to assist EOC can visit the main page of their website at www.eastoaklandcollective.com for donation options. For more information Email info@eastoaklandcollective.com or call 510-990-0775.

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