Drive-thru food distribution draws long line, plenty of gratitude

Food loaders carry boxes of food to the hundreds of cars in line during the Free Food Drive-Thru Giveaway held at the Castaic Regional Sports Complex, Aquatic Center in Castaic on Wednesday, August 12, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Cars lined up for at least a mile along Castaic Road Wednesday, as families waited to pick up boxes of fresh produce, dry goods and dairy at a food giveaway hosted by L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley.

“In our communities, the pandemic has amplified every person’s needs,” Barger said. “The Santa Clarita Valley always comes together when faced with challenges, and I know our residents will emerge stronger than before. I am glad so many people joined us at the food distribution event in Castaic to care and provide for their families and neighbors. Though we are all navigating hardships, Los Angeles County is here to ensure no family goes hungry.” 

“It shows you when people are willing to wait in line that they have a need,” added Stephanie English, senior field deputy for Barger, as she watched boxes of food being loaded into the constant stream of cars. “COVID impacted many, many families, so the supervisor put together this massive food giveaway. … It’s our way of just trying to help and support as much as we can.”

With enough to feed 1,800 families, each family that drove through received four boxes full of food, including shelf-stable items, protein, dairy and fresh produce, totaling 80 pounds of food, according to Amy Hasquet, director of annual giving at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Sari Hernandez stacks boxes of fruit to be loaded into some of the hundreds of cars lined up during the Free Food Drive-Thru Giveaway held at the Castaic Regional Sports Complex, Aquatic Center in Castaic on Wednesday, August 12, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We ask how many households are represented in that car, not just people, but if there’s two separate households or three, we’ll give two or three sets of those four boxes,” English added. 

For Castaic residents Tanya and Reed Pullman, it was their first visit to a food giveaway, and both said they were impressed. 

“I was expecting we’d get a bag of food, but these boxes are huge,” Tanya Pullman said. “We’re both out of work and have been since March, so any help we can get is definitely appreciated, and this is much more than we anticipated.” 

Food distribution has increased by 80% for the L.A. Regional Food Bank, as families continue to struggle through the pandemic, according to Hasquet.

“It’s been pretty tremendous,” Hasquet added. “People are all of a sudden finding themselves out of work and not knowing whether to pay rent or buy groceries for the first time in their lives, so it’s been a real challenge in the community.” 

Hundreds of cars line up around the corner and onto Tapia Canyon Road for the Free Food Drive-Thru Giveaway held at the Castaic Regional Sports Complex, Aquatic Center in Castaic on Wednesday, August 12, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal

Even so, she said the community has really stepped up to help meet the growing demand. 

“People who can give have been really generous, and it’s really been amazing,” Hasquet said. “My job feels so good because I get to talk to all these people who want to give back and want to do something for their neighbors who are struggling.” 

For Hasquet, a Canyon Country resident, this event was near and dear to her. 

“It’s really nice to be here at one of my local distributions and to see everybody so supportive,” she added. “I can only imagine it’s probably scary if you’ve never done anything like this before, but the people who come through are always so nice and thankful, and the volunteers are really great.” 

For future food distribution events and volunteer opportunities, residents can visit covid19.lacounty.gov/food.

Food loaders, Jessica Gaona, left, and Jordyn Sweeney load boxes of food into one of the hundreds of cars in line during the Free Food Drive-Thru Giveaway held at the Castaic Regional Sports Complex, Aquatic Center in Castaic on Wednesday, August 12, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal

Hundreds of cars line up for the Free Food Drive-Thru Giveaway held at the Castaic Regional Sports Complex, Aquatic Center in Castaic on Wednesday, August 12, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal

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