The Covid 19 pandemic is showing no signs of letting up anytime soon, reopening the economy is looking doubtful, and people are suffering from the collapse in incomes. And hunger continues to be a spectre that haunts families.
In California, there are 4.6 million people who do not know where their next meal is coming from. That is called “food insecurity,” and includes l.6 million children.
There are two kinds of organizations that have been helping, even before the Pandemic, to get food out to people who need it: food pantries and food banks. The pantries include churches and independent groups that distribute food within their communities, they are not government run but “independent.” Food banks provide food to these pantries after collecting and storing millions of pounds of food.
In our area, Feeding America/Riverside and San Bernardino is one such food bank that provides fresh and canned food, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and even meats. According to Carolyn Solar, Philanthropy Director, they work with grocery stores, farmers, large distribution centers and food companies. Covid 19 has enabled the food bank to benefit from the FDA’s Farmers to Families Program, which redirects fresh food no longer needed because of the closing of many restaurants to the food banks. It includes that fresh food.
The food bank has had to make adjustments to the Covid crisis. Now their food distribution includes providing packages in a drive through format. Normally, they use their staff in the warehouse, but with the Covid crisis, more than 1000 volunteers have been redeployed to distributing food packages to families in their cars and to homebound people, including seniors who have been advised to self-isolate because of the bigger Covid risks to the elderly.
The added responsibility has been “both heartbreaking and rewarding,” according to Solar. She knows more than 100,000 “of our neighbors” have been helped. But it is a big responsibility making sure people have a safe place to find free and fresh food.
Do you need food? Solar advises searching on FARSB’s link, https://www.feedingamericaie.org/find-pantry. There you will find an interactive map to locate a pantry near you. All you need to do is insert your zip code.
And if you live outside our area, check at this link: https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank.
Want to help? Solar also advises once again, visiting FARSB’s website: www.FeedingIE.org/donate. 98% of every dollar donated goes to providing food to our most vulnerable neighbors.
“We always welcome new opportunities to receive food here locally,” Solar adds. “Direct inquiries or questions about this can be directed to our Product Development Coordinator, Kristina Huelga at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Because of the pandemic, FARSB has stopped offering tours of the warehouse, but volunteers can still offer their time, again, checking out their website. It is a chance to help our neighbors weather this crisis.