Amazon vans during the course of a weekday will help make sure upwards of 50 struggling families in the greater Manteca area will have enough food to eat.
The online retailer as a partner with Second Harvest of the Greater Valley delivers boxes of food to those that are shut-ins or lack transportation to travel to a food bank.
The free-of-charge deliveries are on top of what food Amazon — like other food bank partners such as Target, Raley’s Walmart, Costco, Food 4 Lless, Save Mart, and Sprouts to name a few — donates to Second Harvest.
The food items — whether packaged or canned food nearing their expiration dates or excessive fresh items that aren’t moving fast enough — can be put to better use feeding people than being tossed in the trash.
And that donated food is still good as Second Harvest and food banks across the Northern San Joaquin Valley are well versed in just how long the items are still good well past their stamped sell dates.
The free delivery offered to the food bank by Amazon is just one way Second Harvest is working to find ways to make sure families in need get the nutritional food they need.
And it is a need that has increased by almost 33 percent during the last 12 months.
Second Harvest through the 90 affiliated food banks in eight counties that they serve helps 365,000 people a year.
And since many of those they need help can’t get to a food bank during scheduled hours due to work or the lack of available transportation at a certain time, Second Harvest has — or is preparing to — roll out a number of initiatives to keep access issues from preventing families from dealing with empty stomachs.
Among the effort that includes sending a large panel truckload of fresh produced dubbed Mobile Fresh and other items to various neighborhood distribution points up to 28 times a month in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties:
*An endeavor using package lockers such as Amazon and other delivery services employ but with a refrigeration system and equipped with WIFI.
The first 8-unit locker would be placed outside the Manteca-based food bank in the Manteca Industrial Park. They would be “turned over” — repeatedly filled throughout the day — as pickup times that work for those in need who would be supplied with a combination that changes with every use to allow many more than 8 households to be served in a day.
*Food pantries in doctors’ offices.
Working with healthcare providers such as Golden Valley Health Centers, doctors who are aware of a family struggling with food by writing “prescriptions” that provide them food from an on-site food pantry. Foods in the pantry are stocked to make sure they meet patient’s unique nutritional needs due to whatever issues they are dealing with. There are currently four such operations in place.
*School site food distribution efforts.
Historically, Second Harvest worked with after school program to provide food for students and their struggling families. After the pandemic, Second Harvest started looking at ways to reach all kids in need. In doing so, they have arranged an array of methods for those needs to be met including of supplying school pantries and — when schools are closed their respective — district office as access points for food.
“We (Second Harvest) understand we have to change with the times,” noted Jessica Vaughn who serves as the non-profit’s Director of Development and Communications. “We want to reach those in need that are falling through the cracks.”
Vaughn provided an update of the Second Harvest’s efforts to address the growing regional food insecurity need during Thursday’s meeting of the Manteca Rotary at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room.
The food bank, that expanded in 2017 by acquiring an adjoining warehouse, is getting ready to add a 10,000 to 12,000 square foot addition. It would bring their warehouse space to more than 40,000 square feet.
“When we expanded into (the new warehouse) we thought it would take care of our needs for a number of years,” Vaughn said.
The food bank is also working on more than doubling their refrigeration space.
Vaughn emphasized that much of the increased need are people who need help making ends meet that weren’t in a bad spot before inflation started soaring.
Some of it has to do with not having pay keep up with inflation.
Sometimes it is an unexpected major bill such as for medical needs or a car repair.
And in more than a few instances, rising rents have diverted tightly budgeted family resources to make sure they can keep a roof over their heads.
More information about Second Harvest can be found at Second Harvest of the Greater Valley’s website at localfoodbank.org
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com