Cars once again lined up Tuesday, waiting to snake through the Castaic Lake Recreation Area parking lot to receive boxes full of food during L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office’s second free drive-thru food-distribution event.
“The Santa Clarita Valley has a strong reputation for their generosity and compassion,” said Barger, whose 5th District includes the SCV. “I am glad residents joined us for our grocery giveaway in Castaic to ensure their families, friends and neighbors have the food they need. I’m grateful to our community partners for spreading the word and volunteering to uplift those who need a helping hand.”
With enough available to feed 2,500 families, cars streamed through as boxes filled with shelf-stable items, protein, dairy and fresh produce, totaling 50 pounds of food, were placed in their trunks.
Barger’s office again partnered with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, whose food distribution has increased by 145% since the onset of the pandemic, to attain the food for the distribution.
“With the high unemployment rate we have in L.A. County, where we’re still double the national average, that leads to a lot of families that are really struggling to make ends meet,” said Michael Flood, president and CEO of the L.A. Regional Food Bank. “So we’re here partnering with Supervisor Barger’s office … and some of the other county departments, so we can get food to people who need it.”
Approximately 130 million pounds of food, equivalent to 106 million meals, have been distributed by the food bank countywide since the onset of the pandemic, using donations, which also have increased significantly, as well as $10 million in funds committed by the county.
Though most of the food is distributed to the food bank’s 700 agency partners throughout the county, food distribution events such as this one have continued to gain traction as the demand is so high, Flood said.
“This is a really efficient and safe way to get a lot of food out in a three-hour period,” Flood added. “And the people who are coming through are just so appreciative.”
Volunteer Kai Chan has attended around half of the food bank’s 150 distribution events, and said he does it simply because he likes helping.
“I like doing it just because I’m able to help people, especially during the pandemic where a lot of people are staying at home, they lost their jobs, they are quarantining or they’re elderly,” Chan said. “It’s just a good way for me to give back to the community.”
For Chan, it’s seeing the cars begin lining up hours before the event is set to begin that illustrates the need.
“If we can help, we’ll help, and put a smile on their face, (and they’ll) put a smile on our faces — that’s what it’s all about,” he added.
Some of the SCV Sheriff’s Station’s deputies, along with Capt. Justin Diez, also assisted with the food distribution.
“I think it’s good for these deputies to have an opportunity to just be a part of the community,” Diez said. “Unfortunately, all of these events have been canceled (due to COVID-19) so when we got the email that this was happening … it was a no-brainer to just come out, be with the community, and show our faces because we need that right now.”
Other than Diez, deputies in attendance were able to be out of uniform for the event, which he said was a good opportunity for them to relax and support the community in which they serve.
For future food distribution events and volunteer opportunities, residents can visit covid19.lacounty.gov/food.