|Dear PVLF supporters and volunteers,
Even before Santa Cruz County’s shelter in place order took effect this week to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, many residents began stocking up on staple foods and non-perishable goods in anticipation of challenging days ahead.
However, many other local residents - including farmworker families who have been seasonally unemployed for months, seniors living on fixed incomes, and local people experiencing homelessness - lack the resources to purchase sufficient food and supplies for weeks-long self-quarantine. Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes is providing non-perishable and fresh foods, as well as nourishing lunches, to aid these families and individuals.
We need your support to continue feeding our community during this emergency.
This is not the first time our organization has provided critical services during disaster and emergency situations. Founded in the fall of 1989, we served more than 20,000 meals to thousands of local residents displaced by the Loma Prieta earthquake. Since then, we have assisted community members with healthy groceries and nutritious meals during times of natural disaster, such as the floods of the 1990s, and widespread economic hardship, including the recent Great Recession.
In response to this pandemic, we have adopted emergency procedures to continue serving community members in need while protecting public health. People seeking groceries from the food pantry are greeted outside the facility. Only one person enters the facility at a time, to allow for adequate spacing and sanitizing procedures. The on-site dining area is now closed, but bag lunches, including a sandwich or burrito, fresh fruit, and non-perishable snack items, are available to go from noon to 1pm.
March is always one of the busiest months of the year for our organization. After months out of work, agricultural workers have depleted their savings and the food pantry and lunch programs help sustain them until seasonal employment begins. Farmworkers and their families make up 70% of those served by our organization.
This month, we have seen a surge in need for food assistance among our low-income clients as well as other local residents seeking our help for the first time. Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes is now preparing 125 bag lunches and distributing bags of groceries to more than 120 households each day. We are receiving daily truckload deliveries of food from Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County to keep our shelves stocked.
About ten households each day represent first time recipients of our services. They are so relieved to arrive and find an organized operation with sufficient food supplies. They have praised the quality and variety of food we provide, and are grateful to receive the support they need from our kind and efficient volunteers and staff.
Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes is working with other local service providers, such as the County’s Homeless Persons Health Project, Community Action Board, and the Salvation Army, to reach community members in need of food assistance. Our team is also partnering with the managers of local single room occupancy hotels to provide customized bags of groceries to their residents, many of whom are disabled and who have limited cooking facilities.
In order to sustain the level of our emergency response, monetary donations are most needed.
Donations can be made online using the Give Now button in this message or by visiting our Donate page. Interested volunteers can contact the organization at 831-319-4571 or simply report to our facility, located at 150 Second Street in Watsonville, between 7:30-8am Monday through Friday in work attire and closed-toed shoes to assist with set up, unload food deliveries, and work in the kitchen and stockroom.
We ask you to support us with gifts of your time and funds to ensure that all our neighbors have the nutritious food they need during this difficult time. Our work providing healthy meals and groceries to local residents in need is only possible through the support of donors like you. Thank you for joining us in our vision of a well-nourished, healthy Pajaro Valley community.