Governor orders state National Guard to help food banks in wake of coronavirus

people moving boxes from a car to a table
Volunteers arrive at the Yolo Food Bank last Friday to pick up boxes and delivery lists for at-doorstep service to low-income residents who are age 65 or older and health-compromised residents in Woodland and nearby rural areas. This service is being offered weekly during the coronavirus crisis throughout Yolo County. JOY COHAN-COURTESY

Woodland Food Bank, however, has plenty of volunteers

Published March 23, 2020 by the Daily Democrat 

"Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered the California National Guard to deploy to food banks across the state that are being overwhelmed by people who are suddenly out of work as the coronavirus crisis worsens.

However, because more people have stepped up locally, the Yolo Food Bank won’t have any need for additional help

Demand for food has tripled in just the past few days as some people have found themselves abruptly unemployed and needing help.

'We are really the first line of defense in this disaster,' Leslie Bacho, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley, said in a phone interview Saturday.

Newsom issued the order late Friday and also announced a 'Neighbor-to-Neighbor campaign' in which he is asking people to help others, primarily seniors, while stay-at-home orders are in effect. California Volunteers, a state office focused on engaging people in service, will run the campaign and provide training on how to check on others safely.

'It’s in these times of crisis that Californians are at their best, coming to the aid of those in their community who are most in need,' the governor said in a statement. He also emphasized the need to help the state’s food banks.

'Food banks provide a critical lifeline for families, and are needed now more than ever.'

Joy Cohan, director of Philanthropic Engagement for the Yolo Food Bank, reported Sunday that Woodland-based agency has 'amassed more than 500 new volunteers in just the past 10 days, so we have no need for the National Guard at this time.'

Cohan reported that as Yolo Food Bank is in partnership with Yolo County Office of Emergency Services 'as the official coordinating organization for all emergency food in the county during this crisis, we are sharing volunteers and other resources with our 72 nonprofit partner organizations.'

Cohan also reported that the past Wednesday through Friday, Yolo Food Bank volunteers delivered 1,500 emergency food home delivery boxes to low-income seniors and health-compromised Yolo County residents, and that number could double next week.

'This is in addition to maintaining our usual food distribution schedule (lining up alternative locations as usual host sites have canceled or closed) and continuing our service to our 72 nonprofit partner organizations,' she stated. 'We are an essential business or service, just as is a grocery store during shelter in place.'

Cohan also reported that all activities 'are being conducted in an appropriate socially distanced manner.'

Former Davis Mayor Robb Davis is serving as volunteer Coronavirus Response Coordinator and has taken a leave of several weeks from his position at UC Davis Global Affairs to serve in that capacity.

Davis has a background in public health and has been 'an incredible asset to Yolo Food Bank in staying ahead of what this crisis would mean to the organization and our need to shift parts of our service delivery model in short order.'”

Read the full story at the Daily Democrat

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