Young Bloods: Jasmine Araujo
Founder, Southern Solidarity
During the COVID-19 outbreak in the Greater New Orleans area, Jasmine Araujo noticed that people living unhoused were being neglected and left to their own devices during the quarantine. Araujo quickly mobilized a group of educators and activists who were interested in helping distribute food and other basic needs, and the Southern Solidarity team was up and running. By early June, the team was distributing 200 to 300 meals daily, without missing a single day since the beginning of lockdown.
At first, the volunteers made all the food themselves before heading out to distribution – sometimes assembling 300 sandwiches a day. Mutual aid groups are now donating food to the Southern Solidarity team, and their end goal is to get to the point of growing their own healthy food for the organization.
Then there was the issue of shelter. Although hotel vouchers were offered to people living unhoused, Araujo and the team realized that they didn’t cover a large portion of this population, leaving many people vulnerable. After the Southern Solidarity team demanded more housing for people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many unhoused people were successfully relocated to local hotels.
In addition, the people living unhoused who are served by the Southern Solidarity team also help run the organization. “We want to make sure they’re a big part of the intellectual work creating these actions. The unhoused decide our budget completely, and they’re a part of our vision-building,” says Araujo.
Looking to the future, the Southern Solidarity team plans to continue their work into the post-pandemic world. Although the COVID-19 outbreak spurred the group into immediate action, the issues that they’re addressing, such as food insecurity and lack of shelter, were already pre-existing in the New Orleans unhoused population. Araujo and the volunteer team will keep working to improve the lives of so many people throughout the city. ✦
➺ Get Involved
At this time, Southern Solidarity welcomes donations, including food, water and hygiene products. Interested people may also donate directly at Southern Solidarity’s Go Fund Me page: GoFundMe.com/f/help-feed