Guest post by Jenay Ross, USC journalism student: One of the many food programs the Food Bank has to offer their clients is the Food Assistance Program, commonly called FAP. FAP distributions take place in Antioch, Rodeo, Vacaville and other various towns in Contra Costa and Solano counties.
Recipients who meet the income guidelines to receive food are able to pick up food once a month at the distribution closest to them. When they go to the distribution site, they must have identification with their current address or a picture identification and a document with their current address, such as a PG&E or telephone bill. If their household size is six or more people, I.D. for each person is needed. People also need to certify that their income falls under the guidelines for the program.
Once a month in Antioch, people line up outside of the Veterans Memorial Hall to be greeted by Food Bank employees and volunteers ready to hand over grocery bags and boxes with a variety of bread, fresh produce, canned goods and more.
A large amount of the clients that attend the distribution are unfortunately unemployed. Four ladies I talked to, Tori, Chris, Wanda and Leaann all fall under the unemployed category.
The only one receiving food stamps is Tori. She used to be a cashier and worked many other jobs, but has been unemployed for three and a half years. She is the only one in her household and thinks the distribution is great since she hasn’t gone to get food from anywhere else.
Chris recently moved into a new place with her husband and son, but no one is employed. Chris hasn’t been working since she had her son 16 years ago. When I spoke with her, it was her first time at a FAP distribution. A friend of hers has gone in the past and told her about it. Along with this new found food distribution opportunity, she’s gone to Grace’s Closet, a ministry in Antioch. “They gave me a bag of food and I found a pair of blue jeans,” she said. She also receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
With her husband retired and she being unemployed, Leaann said the Food Bank “makes it so we can eat.” She also is able to pick up food from a couple other programs which helps her and her husband get by.
Being retired, Wanda gets social security from the government, but the Food Bank’s help is great assistance for her and her 39 year-old son who does not have a job. A year ago, a friend told her about FAP and she’s been going ever since.
When she first went, she and her friend were given the wrong starting time. “We were way down the line,” she said. Now Wanda makes sure to get to the Hall about an hour or two early. Being a very friendly and talkative person, she passes the time by making new friends with the other people around her.
Lately, Wanda has noticed an increase of people who need assistance. “At the Salvation Army, there are so many people that they can’t give out as much,” she said. Fortunately, with their help, the Food Bank and a couple other places, she’s able to supplement what she can’t get from each program.
She likes going to the FAP distribution because of the friendly and helpful staff and volunteers. “I didn’t bring my brace today and got dropped off and have to be picked up,” she said, “But they help bring it out and put it where I need to go even when I’m only carrying a bag.”