Feeding Operation Ends, but Volunteers Won’t Quit

Julie H. Case

Even as Team Rubicon’s emergency food assistance program comes to a close, Greyshirts keep on delivering.

With nearly 3,000 deliveries made to at-risk Americans, Team Rubicon has brought to a close the emergency feeding operation it began in May. A partnership between Team Rubicon and the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), and sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, the emergency food assistance program (EFAP) worked by connecting people with cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis with grants from PAF and Bristol Myers Squibb, and with food deliveries by Team Rubicon volunteers.

With funding for EFAP—and especially the grants—fully expended, Team Rubicon ended the program in early October. Greyshirts who participated in the food deliveries will still be put to work, but are more likely now to deploy for disaster relief operations and be plugged into projects within their own communities.

A Greyshirt makes a food delivery.

Over the course of five months, Team Rubicon Greyshirts made more than 1,130 food deliveries for people living with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Team Rubicon client navigators worked with community organizations to complete another 1,579. In total, more than 2,700 food pickups and deliveries were completed, and nearly 23,000 people received grant assistance from the fund.  

Russell Hessler, a Marine Corps veteran from Columbus, Ohio, was one of those volunteers. And, the Greyshirt ended up not only making 15 deliveries through Team Rubicon’s EFAP, he was also tapped by the food bank he was sourcing from to make volunteer deliveries for them.

While the EFAP may have ended for now, Hessler will continue assisting the food bank and making deliveries for people in need as long as he can.

“I think after COVID is over they won’t need this service,” says Hessler. “But until then, whether it’s this December or next December, there’s certainly need and I’m going to try to make it happen.” Hessler also expects to pick back up should Team Rubicon launch another emergency feeding operation in the coming months.

For Chicago’s Tony Franssens, perhaps Team Rubicon’s most prolific food delivery maker—he made 33 deliveries over the course of the program, including two trips to Indiana and four deliveries in Milwaukee—getting food to people in need ended up being not just about the giving.

“I do want to thank Team Rubicon, because this is such a humbling and rewarding experience. I can honestly say, at least right off the top of my head right now, that I can’t think of anything that I’ve been more rewarded with than I have from the emergency food assistance program,” says Franssens.

Greyshirt Tony Franssens.
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