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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Tuesday Table offers free essentials to people in need during COVID-19 pandemic

Local Davis movement spreads across country to help community members

Tuesday Table began in March when the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant financial fallout and a growing need for more resources in the Davis community.

The official Facebook page for Tuesday Table provided further insight into this movement. 

“Tuesday Table is an opportunity to give to and receive from your neighbors,” the page reads. “Hosts set up a table on Tuesdays with essentials (food, books, personal care items) to share with their neighbors and their communities.”

Founder Catherine McMullen described Tuesday Table as an idea or movement instead of an organization and explained how she started Tuesday Table out of a desire to help the community. During her day off from work, she set up a table outside her home with food and books. She called her set-up a “Tuesday Table” after the day it was first held and the idea took off from there. 

“It’s a small thing, but if a lot of people do small things together, then it becomes larger,” McMullen said. “If you have more than you need, you build a longer table, not a higher fence.” 

The organizer for Tuesday Table in Yolo County, Melanie Carr, joined McMullen early in the project. She helped to coordinate tables with the help of other Yolo County organizers Peri Siepman and Lindsay Wilson Terry even after McMullen relocated out of California. She explained how the project grew when more people wanted to donate and contribute.

“My goal is just to have there be as many tables as possible and get as much food as possible out to people that need it,” Carr said. “It really helps the heart of the community.” 

In order to participate, Carr described the safety measures in place to eliminate the threat of COVID-19. The measures include mask-wearing, social distancing at least six feet apart, proper cleanliness and/or isolation of donated items, a rule that you must take something if you touched it, as well as the common sense to only take what you need.  

Lindsay Wilson Terry, another organizer for Tuesday Table in Yolo County, first became involved when Carr reached out to her about hosting her own Tuesday Table. Terry had always felt passionate towards food insecurity and has regularly hosted a Tuesday Table ever since. 

She believed Tuesday Table came at the right time when unemployment and homelessness increased and services were either closing or slowing down. When there was not enough aid for those in need, the community stepped up to help. 

“I hope that more and more people will realize the importance of community-based support and community-based action, and realize that it really can be done in a simple way,” Terry said. “All you need is a willingness to share.”

Over time, Tuesday Table expanded beyond Davis and Woodland to other states such as Oregon and Rhode Island, and even halfway across the world to the United Kingdom. Social media helped to play a role in the growth of the movement.

Kayla Schmitz, a Tuesday Table host, became involved after seeing a post on Facebook. Schmitz hosted her own Tuesday Table every week, believing that even a seemingly small contribution can make a big impact in someone else’s life. 

“I was really impressed by how giving the Davis community was,” Schmitz said. “It’s just been really important to me to always find ways to give back to the community that has given so much to my family.” 

Carr further explained how people often come to the tables and say how much Tuesday Table helps them, especially elders and other folks who are unable to go to the store themselves. She wanted to express her thanks for anyone and everyone involved with Tuesday Table, whether it’s a one-time donator or people hosting their own Tuesday Table. 

McMullen had always hoped Tuesday Table would spread to other communities and further emphasized the importance of not working alone in order for a movement to grow. She expressed joy at how far the movement has blossomed since its start, giving people a way to give back to the community and stay connected with each other during these unprecedented times. 

“I don’t think there’s ever going to be an end of a need for us to help each other,” McMullen said. “Long after the pandemic is done, I hope we’re still doing something like Tuesday Table.”

Terry added a final comment about the positive influence and longevity of the project.

“As long as we’re dealing with the repercussions of COVID-19, Tuesday Table will definitely continue and hopefully beyond because there is always food insecurity and there is always a need to build and support community,” Terry said. “I think the more it spreads, the longer it will endure.”

Written By: Jelena Lapuz — city@theaggie.org


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