Interview with Tamara Sandberg, March 17, 2023

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History
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00:00:03 - Introduction and job background

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Partial Transcript: Let's start off with, um, your first and last name, and if you can spell them out just to make sure that we've got it all right.

Segment Synopsis: Tamara Sandberg introduces herself and says that COVID-19 pandemic was personally a calming experience for her. She describes her background as the executive director of Feeding Kentucky, and explains how she moved to Georgetown, KY.

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); COVID; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Executive directors; Feed the Children; Feeding America; Feeding Kentucky; Food drives; Georgetown (Ky.); Kentucky; Lockdowns; Nonprofits; Pandemics

00:02:28 - Statewide hunger during the pandemic

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Partial Transcript: I guess to kind of talk about your, your job experience before we get I guess into more of the personal things, um, is um, specifically with you know, the food insecurity...

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg explains how the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge of hungry families and children across Kentucky.

Keywords: COVID; COVID-19; Children; Coronavirus; Families; Feeding America; Feeding Kentucky; Food; Food banks; Food insecurity; Hunger; Hungry; Lockdowns; Meals; Nonprofits; Pandemics; Parents; Schools

00:04:48 - Distributing food around Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Was there-- I mean, I don't know if you're aware of any, but do you-- was there any like, plans in place already...

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg explains how food banks like Feeding Kentucky act as emergency response services for people in times of need. She says that due to the pandemic shutting down their community distribution centers, the U.S. National Guard stepped in to help the food banks safely distribute and deliver food across Kentucky.

Keywords: COVID; COVID-19; Communities; Coronavirus; Distribution; Emergencies; Emergency response; Families; Feeding America; Feeding Kentucky; Food; Food banks; Governor Andy Beshear; Hunger; Hungry; Kentucky; Lockdowns; Meals; National Guard; Nonprofits; Pandemics; Warehouses

00:07:14 - Schools' role in distributing food

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Partial Transcript: Were they partnered at all with-- you know, cause you were talking about with schools, um, or you know...

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg talks about the successful contributions made by school systems around Kentucky to aid in the distribution of food for families across the state.

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); Berea Kids Eat; COVID; COVID-19; Children; Coronavirus; Families; Federal government; Feeding America; Feeding Kentucky; Food; Food banks; Food distribution; Hunger; Hungry; Lockdowns; Meals; Nonprofits; Pandemics; Parents; Public schools; School systems; Schools; Students

00:09:14 - Implementation of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) cards

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Partial Transcript: Well, it's-- I, I mean, it seems like, I mean, I'm not saying that it was smooth bindings, right.

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg talks about the useful implementation of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) cards, which gives families credit for each school meal that students miss during lockdown, and can be used similarly as a debit card.

Keywords: COVID; COVID-19; Cash cards; Children; Coronavirus; Electronic Benefit Transfer; Families; Feeding America; Feeding Kentucky; Food; Food banks; Food distribution; Hunger; Hungry; Kentucky; Lockdowns; Meals; Nonprofits; P-EBT; Pandemic EBT; Pandemics; School systems; Schools; Students

00:10:46 - Kentucky's efforts against statewide hunger

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Partial Transcript: In general, do you, do you think we, that Kentucky responded well to, you know, uh, to that insecurity that was happen-- or, you know, hunger that was likely to happen, um, once the schools and other places, you know, shut down?

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg reflects on Kentucky's overall positive approach to feeding hungry families during the pandemic. She acknowledges the government for their help with food distribution, and commends the families that stepped up to volunteer or donate to local food banks.

Keywords: COVID; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Donations; Emergencies; Emergency response; Families; Feeding America; Feeding Kentucky; Food; Food banks; Food distribution; Food pantries; Government response; Governor Andy Beshear; Hunger; Hungry; Kentucky; Lockdowns; Meals; Nonprofits; Pandemics; Politicians; Volunteering; Volunteers

00:13:08 - Initial reactions to COVID-19

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Partial Transcript: I guess to, uh, kind of go back and start, um, where-- more on, I guess of your overall personal experience...

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg describes how she first learned of COVID-19. She says that she initially didn't think much of it until, shortly after hosting a successful fundraising event, she received the announcement of a global pandemic.

Keywords: COVID; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Diseases; Feeding America; Feeding Kentucky; Food banks; Fundraisers; Fundraising; Health; Illness; Kentucky; Lockdowns; Masks; News media; Nonprofits; Pandemics; Safety; Sickness; Social distancing; Viruses

00:17:51 - Family's first experiences with the pandemic

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Partial Transcript: Which, which one of those gave you the "this is serious?"

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg discusses the warning signs that her family first received about the severity of COVID-19, with her son and daughter being sent on extended spring breaks from their college.

Keywords: Belmont University; COVID; COVID-19; Colleges; Coronavirus; Families; Georgetown College; Lockdowns; Pandemics; Shutdowns; Spring break; Universities; Vacations

00:20:16 - COVID-19's effects on college students

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Partial Transcript: Um, and then when you-- I'm assuming you stayed there the, the full time, and then when you all came back...

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg talks about how both of her children ended up leaving their college apartments to stay with her and her husband during the first few months of the pandemic. She says that her daughter was unable to attend her graduation ceremony or return to her job in Nashville, and that her son missed out on a lot of his college experience.

Keywords: Apartments; Belmont University; COVID; COVID-19; Campuses; Classes; College students; Colleges; Coronavirus; Education; Families; Graduates; Graduation; Graduation ceremonies; Housing; Jobs; Lockdowns; Nashville; Pandemics; Tennessee; Universities

00:24:52 - Daily life during lockdown / Unequal impact

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Partial Transcript: What do you think-- uh, what was daily life like in that time period when you all were altogether?

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg talks about her daily life during lockdown, and says that working from home allowed her family to thrive compared to others. She explains how different people and families, especially women in the role of childcare, were unequally impacted by the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID; COVID-19; Childcare; Children; Coronavirus; Daily life; Families; Food; Food insecurity; Gender; Hunger; Hungry; Jobs; Lockdowns; Pandemics; Remote work; Social distancing; Women; Working from home

00:29:26 - Receiving COVID-19 vaccines

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Partial Transcript: Um, was there, was there any decision making or anything like that with when the vaccine rolled out?

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg describes how grateful and relieved she was when she and her family received COVID-19 vaccines. She explains how some of her friends and family were hesitant to receive vaccines despite the health risks, and says that she ended up leaving the church she attended because of their anti-mask customs.

Keywords: Anti-vaxxers; Antivaxxers; COVID; COVID-19; Christianity; Christians; Churches; Coronavirus; Deaths (COVID-19 related); Diseases; Family; Friends; Health; Illness; Immunizations; Lockdowns; Masks; Pandemics; Religions; Risk; Safety; Shots; Sickness; Social distancing; Vaccinations; Vaccines; Viruses

00:37:28 - Keeping in touch with extended family

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Partial Transcript: Was um, outside of your, you know, uh, your immediate family, um, how were, how was the contact, uh, how did you maintain contact...

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg explains how she kept in touch virtually with her extended family throughout the pandemic. She says that she would sometimes guiltily forgo social distancing to visit family on special occasions, including her niece's bridal shower and wedding.

Keywords: Bridal showers; COVID; COVID-19; Christmas; Coronavirus; Families; Health; Holidays; In-laws; Lockdowns; Masks; Pandemics; Parents; Safety; Social distancing; Weddings; Zoom; Zoom Video Communications

00:43:04 - Positive memories from the pandemic

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Partial Transcript: Is there, um, just one memory out there that just, you know, is-- like cause you said you had, you know, it was a, it was a good time.

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg describes fond memories of bonding with her family and pets during the pandemic, including watching her daughter's online graduation ceremony and taking her out for a celebration.

Keywords: Belmont University; COVID; COVID-19; Celebrations; Colleges; Coronavirus; Dogs; Family; Family bonding; Graduation; Graduation ceremonies; Lockdowns; Pandemics; Parents; Pets; Universities

00:46:11 - Learned habits from lockdown

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Partial Transcript: Was there anything after, um, as far as like, you know, post COVID, um, that uh, that you've adopted?

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg explains how she still maintains several habits from when she was in lockdown, including wearing masks on planes, and using Zoom to work more from home.

Keywords: COVID; COVID-19; Communication; Contact; Coronavirus; Health; Jobs; Lockdowns; Masks; Pandemics; Remote work; Safety; Working from home; Zoom; Zoom Video Communications

00:49:47 - Government policies towards fighting hunger

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Partial Transcript: Sorry for kind of going out of order here, but kind of going back to the start of our conversation...

Segment Synopsis: Sandberg explains how due to the government's effective handling of the situation, hunger rates in Kentucky have decreased significantly since the start of the pandemic. She mentions how the new policies set in place give families easier access to food, and that she hopes they will continue after the pandemic recovery.

Keywords: COVID; COVID-19; Children; Coronavirus; Families; Feeding America; Feeding Kentucky; Food banks; Food distribution; Food insecurity; Food waivers; Hunger; Lockdowns; Pandemics; Relief efforts