As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, food banks in the Sacramento region are working overtime to meet the growing needs of community members seeking assistance. Food Banks throughout the nation have been learning how to operate in a new “normal” as the demand for food and resources continues to rise. The pandemic has created a large new group of people seeking help for the first time in their lives and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
Sacramento’s local food banks are learning how to collect and distribute donations in safer, socially distant ways, adding additional stresses to food bank staff and distributors with increasing demand.
River City Food Bank, Sacramento’s oldest and continuously food-serving organization, is one of thousands of food banks that is learning how to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were forced to postpone their one significant fundraiser for the year, and completely revamped their emergency food distribution to continue to serve the community. Today, River City Food Bank is looking to the public for support and relief more than ever.
To support their efforts, Volunteer Services at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California organized a toiletry drive, asking hospital staff, Ben Ali Shriners and hospital volunteers to donate travel size shampoos, conditioners, soaps and other hygiene products that are now in short supply.
“Supporting our local food banks is so important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lillian Nelson, Volunteer Services Manager for Shriners Hospitals for children – Northern California and a member of the team that organized the toiletry drive. “When River City Food Bank expressed the need for toiletries and personal hygiene products, we invited our local Shriners, staff and hospital volunteers to donate. By the end of our two week collection drive, we had four giant barrels of products to drop off.”
Collection bins were placed in the lobby of the hospital to collect donations from employees, and hospital volunteers were invited to drop off toiletries with Ben Ali Shriners who collected donations in a drive-thru like format, with social-distancing precautions in place.
“This was a great way to engage our local Shriners and hospital volunteers. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, hospital volunteers aren’t allowed in the hospital at this time. We miss them terribly, and were thrilled to see so many dedicated volunteers support our community in this unique way,” said Ms. Nelson. “We look forward to the day when our hospital volunteers can return to the hospital.”