Photo Credits: Katherine Franks / Aggie
With fewer government support programs available, Yolo County food donation programs expand service
Similarly to how COVID-19 has affected many things this year, the pandemic and the upcoming holiday season will impact the operations of the Yolo County Food Bank.
Yolo County Public Information Officer Jenny Tan noted the likelihood that the upcoming holiday season would lead to gatherings of people despite the threat of COVID-19.
“We definitely know that people are going to gather,” Tan said. “We’re trying to impress upon people how they can gather safely and that ultimately, the best thing that they can do is to actually not gather at all.”
Tan also discussed the most recent Yolo County press release, which allows outdoor gatherings of no more than three households with up to 16 people for two hours or less.
For nonprofit organizations such as the Short Term Emergency Aid Committee (STEAC), the upcoming holiday season could lead to an increase in the demand for services.
STEAC Executive Director Liane Moody expressed her concern that the upcoming holiday season could lead to an increase in need from the community. Early in the pandemic, Moody explained how more government support programs were available such as stimulus checks, unemployment payments and eviction moratoriums, but now those programs are coming to an end.
“We have already seen a huge increase in the number of people who are facing financial difficulty,” Moody said. “We expect that to continue and to get difficult throughout the holiday and then as long as the situation persists.”
Yolo Food Bank Director of Philanthropic Engagement Joy Cohan reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic more than doubled the organization’s activities.
“We have experienced a massive increase in demand for our services,” Cohan said. “We are both collecting and distributing 2 ½ times more food than we were pre-pandemic.”
Cohan further explained that Yolo Food Bank has served approximately 60,000 Yolo County residents monthly. The organization has also been regularly distributing between 800,000 to 900,000 pounds of food each month and exceeded that amount in October with 1,000,000 pounds of food.
Tan expressed concern that the upcoming cold season could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“People just tend to get more sick in the winter normally,” Tan said. “With the introduction of COVID this year, it definitely adds another layer of something else that people can get or can suffer from.”
Tan suggested alternative ways for folks to celebrate the holiday season in order to avoid in-person gatherings as much as possible, such as hosting virtual potluck dinners, dropping off gift baskets, having virtual ugly sweater contests and participating in online arts and crafts classes.
Moody explained how STEAC adapted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in order to better meet the needs of the community.
“STEAC is working hard to modify our programs to meet the needs of working in a pandemic, as well as to meet the growing needs of families who are facing the financial fallout of the pandemic,” Moody said. “The more that we get in donations, the less we have to purchase in order to serve low-income residents in Davis.”
Moody explained how the Davis Realtors’ Food Drive on Nov. 7 is one of the biggest events for STEAC. Its goal is to provide food donations to support the local food closet in Davis, “which provides food to approximately 100-150 families every month,” according to Moody. The food each family receives would include items regularly bought during a routine grocery visit, such as milk, meats and shelf-stable foods.
Cohan reflected on the importance of organizations like Yolo Food Bank during the pandemic.
“We’re really a place where individuals can count on there being justice,” Cohan said. “We look at the services we provide in terms of much more than just food and solving hunger.”
Moody added a final comment regarding support for the organization.
“We can use any support that people have in order to help their neighbors during a really difficult time,” Moody said. “We’re so grateful for the support we’ve gotten already.”
Tan further urged for the community to have patience in the fight against COVID-19.
“We understand that people want to have a sense of normalcy, but the reality is that COVID is going to be with us for at least a little while longer,” Tan said. “To really protect our communities, our families and our loved ones, we still need to stay vigilant in our efforts to mitigate COVID.”Written By: Jelena Lapuz — firstname.lastname@example.org