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Second Harvest Food Bank has launched weekly drive through service at the Honda Center.
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The non-profit has tapped into their reserve funds to purchase food and has suspended their volunteer packing operations at the distribution center.
Food Bank officials expect the drive-through food pantry will help them feed the hungry while maintaining the safety of the volunteers, staff and those coming to pick up the food through social distancing.
“Mobile drive throughs have been done before, not on this scale that I’m aware of,” said Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank.
“In support of social distancing and to be transporting food safely we’ve asked many of our pantry partners to convert to a drive up or drive through mobile pantry very much like the one we’re running.”
The drive through food pantry will be held outside the Honda Center parking lot in Anaheim on Saturdays between 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. or until supplies last. It will provide shelf stable foods for those in need.
“The Ducks and the Honda Center have been gracious enough to loan us their parking lot. Our first conversation was for four weeks but a lot has changed in the last week,” Herrmann said.
He hopes the Center can host them longer than that.
“If not we’ll find a location nearby. That’s what makes this pop up pantry so unique it’s mobile and we can move it around the county if we need to, to accommodate the need where it lives.”
Herrmann said Second Harvest Food Bank prepared to feed 4,000 households at Saturday’s drive through with bags of food. The bags consist of apples, potatoes and shelf stable foods. The mobile drive through food pantry operates on a first come, first serve basis.
Berenice Abazan, who lives in Orange, attended the drive through and said the bag of food she received was really helpful.
“Even my husband said that’s a meal right there. That will save us a meal for the day.”
For Abazan one of her concerns at this time is running out of food.
“Everywhere we would go, it’s so hard to get what you’re looking for, like tortillas, bread, eggs, milk. That’s my main concern not having enough food for her kids,” she said.
70 volunteers and 10 staff members were spread out across the parking lot to help distribute the bags of food and manage traffic flow, he said.
The mobile drive through is not the only tactic the food bank is employing to feed people during the state’s stay home mandate.
They also have started a Harvest Truck Brigade where a distribution team of volunteers with pick up trucks are dispatched through text messages to deliver food to schools, senior centers and the homes of people in critical need.
“We are only excited about this because it’s a solution to moving food to people who need us. This is the first of its kind for us,” Herrmann said.
He is encouraging people to visit feedoc.org and donate to help their cause.
“We rely on donations and we’ve been buying truckloads of food and every dollar counts and matters in the weeks and months ahead,” Herrmann said.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC news intern. Contact him @email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.