It started with a common problem: Residents living in the smaller, more rural communities along Contra Costa County’s eastern edge would reach out to their local churches looking for help with food and, as longtime organizer Pastor Karen remembered, “we didn’t have much to give out.”
Their solution – join forces. Soon, the Delta Christian Community Food Pantry was serving about 35 people a week at the Byron United Methodist Church. But it quickly became clear there was more need in East Contra Costa. The community of Knightsen had no pantry at all and nearby Bethel Island also needed more food programs.
So, Delta Christian opted to take its program on the road.
Every Tuesday organizers and volunteers at this Food Bank partner agency head out for a distribution marathon, staging back-to-back-to-back food distributions, one in each community. These days, they serve an average of 1,300 residents per month – many of whom are also banding together to help each other through tough times.
Neighbors helping neighbors
Pastor Karen said it’s not unusual for four or more households to carpool through their drive-thru distributions to save fuel. And Bethel Islander Glenda, who came to a recent distribution with her friend Annie, said she also helps out by picking up boxes for her neighbors who can’t make it to the site at all.
“Some people, they can’t even afford to move their vehicles with the cost of gas,” she said. “Annie and me try to find out who else needs food and compensate for that.”
Thomas, a former military policeman and armed security worker, said one of his neighbors is battling spinal cancer, so “I try to help them out with what I get.”
His own family has been cautious about getting together for holidays since the pandemic due to two newborn members, so Thomas planned to barbecue the whole chicken the pantry was distributing for Thanksgiving to share with them.
“Having the extra stuff like this makes it a little more festive when you don’t have anybody out here for gathering,” he said.
Strength in numbers
Delta Christian Community Food Pantry is a story of strength in numbers in so many ways. By partnering with the pantry – as we do with more than 260 agencies in Contra Costa and Solano counties – the Food Bank is able to make sure more people in our community can access the food they need in the way that works best for them. In return, the pantry receives support from hunger fighters like you in the form of food, organizational assistance and grants.
That support has made a big difference to Delta Christian this year, when they were able to purchase a new van with an agency enhancement grant. The van has a solar generator and solar panels, which are used to power two freezers filled with frozen meats, fruit and other refrigerated goods. Prior to its purchase, the pantry used coolers and ice to keep food chilled through their long morning of driving.
With temperatures in east Contra Costa County reaching 120 some days this summer, Pastor Karen said the van will ensure many more safe trips to the communities her pantry supports.
“It’s relieved my mind greatly,” she said. “We’re over the moon over this.”