For 45 years our partner agencies have been fighting hunger alongside us with a common goal of nourishing our neighbors in need.
In early March, with COVID-19 spreading and businesses closing, we quickly realized the Food Bank would be called upon to meet a new and growing need. Our objective was safely scaling our operation in the face of many unpredictable and changing circumstances.
As first responders in this crisis, we needed all hands on deck. Leveraging our existing network of 240 nonprofit partners to distribute additional emergency food boxes and produce quickly became a top priority. Shower of Blessings in Antioch is one of those partners who stepped up during this very chaotic time. Their pantry has doubled the number of people they are serving. They now serve 100-200 families during the three days a week they are open.
Kindness and gratitude radiate from everyone at the agency and even a mask can’t hide Pastor Sylva’s smile as he shares how Shower of Blessings has been able help. “It is wonderful that we are here and the Food Bank is here to serve the community.” Sylva points out, “Sometimes we come across people who don’t appear to need help, when really they are living in their car.”
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We don’t look down until we can pick you up. This can happen to anyone.” -Pastor Sylva
When asked how they are meeting the increased need, Pastor Sylva credits dedicated volunteers–many who came from the line–and the partnership with the Food Bank. Every week volunteers from the organization pick up food at an agency distribution which includes produce and emergency food boxes. Other volunteers safely conduct prearranged grocery recovery pickups from retailers like Costco, Target and Safeway, saving the perfectly edible food from being discarded.
The group thoughtfully assembles food boxes with a variety of produce and meat, so families can make complete meals from the offerings. As a volunteer named Beverly tells us, “There is always enough food for everyone.” Paula, another volunteer, adds she recently was told, “This is a blessing for me today because we didn’t have any food and now I can feed my family.”
As we navigate this new COVID-19 world, we will continue to foster these critical partnerships to serve the most at-risk communities including families experiencing hunger for the first time.