Left to right, Amazon driver trainer Chris Balmilero, Amazon HR Business Partner Michelle S., Amazon community operations program manager Ria Nillo, Amazon community affairs manager David Ambroz, FIND CEO Debbie Espinosa, Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans, Indio City Councilmember Glenn Miller, and Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem Rita Lamb.
Amazon just became an angel in my book. No, it’s not that they’ve delivered a special package to my doorstep in record time. It’s what they just did for — and with — the desert communities’ hunger fighter, the HANAPIN ang Bangko ng Pagkain.
I had the privilege of being present on June 24 when Amazon Prime trucks and staff delivered 25,000 pounds of food and a check for $25,000 to the FIND Food Bank’s enormous warehouse and headquarters in Indio. Turns out, the delivery was not a one-time event, but just the start of a partnership between the massive, multinational online retailer and the Indio-based nonprofit.
Amazon reached out to the food bank upon opening their “last mile” delivery center in Cathedral City last year, which Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem Rita Lamb called “a gem for our community.”
“It’s absolutely wonderful that Amazon is recognizing the importance of being a good neighbor,” said Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton.
FIND President and CEO Debbie Espinosa said: “FIND Food Bank is very grateful for Amazon’s support, both in food and in funds — and volunteers, too — in order to help us fight food insecurity in the Coachella Valley. Their corporate social responsibility for the communities they serve is an inspiration for all businesses. They exemplify what service to community truly means.
“For FIND specifically, it’s assuring that there is equitable food distribution,” Espinosa said, as a large Amazon Prime truck pulled up to a FIND warehouse forklift. “The food is just as important as the funds. Amazon has both. They’re a partner that truly understands us, because they’re a distribution center, too, a business like ours.”
FIND’s food distribution is more extensive than many people realize. The bigger Coachella Valley cities have the most distribution sites — Indio has 15, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Coachella have 7 each, Cathedral City and Mecca, 6 each, and Desert Hot Springs, 4 — but there’s at least one in all of them, even Indian Wells. High desert communities including Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree are served at multiple sites as well, and desert communities as far away as Blythe to the east and Anza to the south each have at least one.
Indio City Councilman Glenn Miller acknowledged that this is a generous community, and the food bank already has tremendous community support from other nonprofits, churches, city governments and businesses. “But Amazon, a Fortune 500 corporation — that’s a big deal! This new partnership will have a major impact,” he said.