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Golden Harvest, AU join to spread COVID-19 vaccine to underserved



AUGUSTA, Ga. – Golden Harvest Food Bank is saying its goodbyes to the Georgia National Guard. After more than a year of service, members of the Guard are wrapping up their pandemic relief efforts.

Since last April, troops have helped provide close to 15 million meals to people across the two-state. To say thank you the foodbank held a farewell event for them with the help of Mayor Hardie Davis. Representatives with Congressmen Rick Allen and Jody Hice were also there.

When the Masters table opened Thursday morning, there was a line waiting outside. Most, of course, hoping for a meal, but many surprised by a chance to get vaccinated.

Edward Rush is 19. He finds himself here at Golden Harvest often.

“Having no income or a stable place to live it’s hard paying for food or drink myself throughout the day,” said Rush.

He didn’t come here looking for a COVID-19 vaccine. But when AU offered he couldn’t say no.

“Me being 19-years-old I’m not fully aware of those obstacles, or even how to approach them,” he said.

Obstacles that many at the soup kitchen face every day: food, health, and the pandemic.

“We know just like there’s barriers to food, and there are food insecure people we need to break down the barriers to healthcare,” said Amy Breitmann, Executive Director at Golden Harvest Food Bank.

Amy Breitmann with Golden Harvest Food Bank says the partnership with AU Health came naturally.

“Partnering with them helps build that bridge with the population that they serve,” said Dr. Joshua Wyche, AU Health.

Dr. Joshua Wyche says that’s their biggest struggle now. Convincing those who question the science to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s going to take a much more localized, one-on-one approach. This is an opportunity to reach 400 or 500 families within a targeted one-on-one approach,” he said.

AU will reach those families through Golden Harvest’s mobile market in Thomson this weekend. Building trust and making it hard to say no.

“For us to show up as a presence, both from Golden Harvest and AU Health, it just shows a partnership, care, and concern for those residents,” said Breitmann.

This Saturday in McDuffie County, this small operation will be taken to a larger scale.

AU says they have events lined up with Golden Harvest for several weeks.

The clinic and mobile market will be at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Anyone is welcome and there’s no appointment needed.