KESQ Weekend Anchor/Weekday Reporter
FIND Food Bank is calling on existing volunteers and those who might be interested in signing up to volunteer at upcoming distribution events.
Like many other institutions, the latest COVID-19 surge has put a strain on the non-profits staffing. The Army National Guard has been helping get food into the pantries of Coachella Valley families since March 2020, but they will only be assisting until the end of March 2022.
Kayleen Sullivan, Development and Community Relations Manager at FIND Food Bank, said as cases surge “our food lines also tend to grow.” Volunteers are needed to support packing, sorting, and placing food directly into cars of people in need of assistance.
Sullivan said lines to obtain food slowed down in the summer as COVID-19 cases went down and people went back to work. However, the latest spike in cases is exposing food insecurity in homes across the Coachella Valley due to a number of factors. Sullivan noted lines are steady due to “continued inflation, the rising cost of groceries, and the cost of living in California.” “We’re feeding 150,000 on average every month and that is still 60% higher than how many people we were serving pre-pandemic,” she added.
The food bank worked to ensure children did not go without food during the holiday break, but now that classes have resumed the need for assistance is still dire. The food bank hosted a distribution event at Oasis Elementary School in Thermal today from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The dire need for food assistance was made evident by the turnout. The site’s director told News Channel 3 on a typical day, they serve between 120 to 130 people. Friday night saw 216 people seek food assistance from this particular site.
One local resident, Humberto Salgado Trujillo, said he frequently visits this site. “They help me a lot, they help me a lot because we don’t have no job, we’re not working so we don’t have no money,” he explained. He said he and his family of 7 have relied on the resources offered by FIND throughout the pandemic.
Palm Springs resident Will Randol expressed similar sentiments at a FIND event on Thursday. “Food is kind of an issue. We both have food stamps and SNAP, but it just isn’t enough sometimes. So the ability to walk by and see people helping everybody else out was really a blessing. So we got in line and asked if they could help us out and they were nice enough to say yes because we don’t have a car. I ended up selling my car to help pay rent.”
FIND said it has upcoming volunteer events that are in urgent need of support the week of January 17-22. Although people are encouraged to sign up for volunteer events that fit with their schedules, the need for help is constant. They are also always accepting food and monetary donations.
Additionally, FIND has opportunities with its homebound delivery program. “Let’s say you are a parent and you have kids and you can’t get them a babysitter, well we have 150 homebound clients that are in need of food deliveries,” said Sullivan. She said parents are encouraged to bring their children along for the ride and can choose a route that is convenient for their routine. “Kids can also build awareness of what it means to get involved with the community,” Sullivan added.
Find is holding a National Day of Service on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so they encourage anyone who has the day off to join in volunteer efforts.
Anyone interested in volunteering should register for all events so the bank can have an accurate count. If you have any questions about registration you can call 760.848.8710.
Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates on where the need for immediate food assistance stands in the Coachella Valley.