More than 1,400 households from in and around the Santa Clarita Valley received groceries on Friday with lines of vehicles hugging the perimeters of the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area during a drive-thru food giveaway, depicting a growing need amid the pandemic, volunteers and attendees said.
L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, hosted the event along with other agencies and organizations such as the L.A. Regional Food Bank. An estimated 60 volunteers helped load boxes full of food, weighing about 50 pounds with items including protein, fresh produce, dairy and shelf-stable goods.
“Just in time for Christmas, we distributed groceries to 1,430 Santa Clarita households at Castaic Lake today,” said Barger in a prepared statement. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with our dedicated community volunteers and the L.A. Regional Food Bank to ensure local families are fed this holiday season.”
Friday’s event, the third of its kind held this year in Castaic by Barger’s office, saw several people who sought aid from food banks for the first time due to the pandemic, according to volunteer Norm Goldstein.
“I’ve been doing these since the end of April and the lines are getting longer,” he said, adding that he heard from more than 40 families who attended for the first time. “With the economic situation, I think people are getting more desperate and with unemployment benefits running out in a week or two, they’re thinking ahead that, ‘Maybe we won’t be able to afford food.’”
Among those who attended for the first time was Castaic resident Marilou Vizconde, who has a family of seven, she said.
“It’s been so hard because we’ve had job losses and I have a 35-year-old who’s disabled,” she said.
Close behind in the drive-thru line was Glenda Clark, who said she traveled from Palmdale.
“We’re a family of six so that means a lot to us. We drove from Palmdale because they haven’t had anything in our area but it’s worth it to feed my kids,” she said.
The event comes as California senators, including state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, urge Congress to include key nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Pandemic EBT, in the new COVID-19 relief deal that lawmakers continue to negotiate.
For those interested in donating or volunteering, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/give-support for more information.