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Need at St. Helena Community Food Pantry skyrockets

Need at St. Helena Community Food Pantry skyrockets

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As with food banks everywhere, our local food pantry has seen the number of those in need skyrocket in the last month. Until recently we were serving about 70 households, many of them small. As of last Friday, our total was 180, most of these new households representing a minimum of four mouths to feed. New applicants continue to arrive. Although many expect to start receiving unemployment checks as they await the opportunity to return to work, we imagine that their need for assistance will continue for some time.

For those unfamiliar with what the Pantry offers our clients: Every week they receive a bag of fresh produce, and usually frozen meat and dairy. Once a month we include a box of shelf-stable "basics." We are also a site for monthly USDA distribution, which includes shelf-stable products as well as frozen meat and fruits. We serve people primarily from St. Helena, but also Pope Valley, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and Deer Park. Angwin and Calistoga have their own pantry.

We are located on the Seventh-day Adventist Church property in St. Helena. Due to the volume and current COVID-19 concerns, service has shifted to a drive-through system on Tuesdays and Fridays 2:30 to 4 p.m. New volunteers have done a brilliant job lending a hand to our regular volunteers in this demanding situation. Our clients, both old and new, have shown great patience for the inevitable wait times.

Our budget, of course, has been stressed by the new demand. We have always been lucky to have generous local financial support, as well as productive food drives. Our local supermarkets and catering groups donate food regularly. We also receive product and logistical support from the Napa Food Bank.

During this crisis, citizens have stepped forward with financial donations, as well as offers to volunteer. Social distancing is problematic for new volunteers at this time. If you would like to make a donation to the Pantry, please send a check to the St. Helena Community Food Pantry, 1777 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, c/o Laurie Conwell. If you would like to contact me personally, please feel free to write to me at lebazaar1@gmail.com.

Susan Davis

President, St. Helena Community Food Pantry

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