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'The greatest need is food': Since start of pandemic, demand has doubled at local nonprofits

Will Preston and Lene Lauese, staff members at the Ecumenical Hunger Program, put bags of produce in a client's car outside of the nonprofit's East Palo Alto offices on March 19. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

East Palo Alto's Ecumenical Hunger Program currently distributes 1,000 boxes of food per week — at least double the pre-pandemic level of 350 to 500, said Executive Director Lesia Preston.

With families out of work and many not qualifying for government assistance, "the greatest need is food," she wrote in an email.

The 45-year-old nonprofit, which typically provides food, clothing, furniture, household items and social support to local families in need, has temporarily closed all services except for essential food programs, Preston said. She and key staff members are working seven days a week to locate food resources and have them brought to the nonprofit's campus in time for scheduled distributions.

Traditional food bank resources are "diminishing," she said.

At Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley, a major supplier to Ecumenical Hunger Program (EHP), demand has doubled since the start of the pandemic.

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"Even before COVID-19, Second Harvest was responding to a level of food insecurity in Silicon Valley that indicated there was already a crisis happening, providing groceries to more than 260,000 people per month," Second Harvest spokeswoman Diane Baker Hayward said.

The agency now serves more than a half million people per month, she said.

To supplement food supplies from the food bank, Preston and her staff have contacted local grocery stores, warehouses, restaurants and farms to see if they can get donations or purchase critical supplies in bulk.

"As EHP can no longer accept volunteers, staff members are wearing multiple hats, which include sourcing food, picking up and accepting fresh food donations, stocking the food pantry, packing food boxes, directing traffic and more," Preston said.

Food boxes containing protein, vegetables, grains, cereals and canned goods are distributed using a drive-thru method at the agency's Pulgas Avenue headquarters in East Palo Alto.

Donations can be shipped, mailed or dropped off Tuesday through Thursday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 2411 Pulgas Ave., East Palo Alto.

For more information on how to donate, go to ehpcares.org, email Associate Director LaKesha Evans at [email protected] or call 650 323-7781 ext. 1200.

Those needing food assistance can call 650 323-7781 or stop by the agency Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon or 2:30-4:30 p.m.

For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank, go to shfb.org.

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'The greatest need is food': Since start of pandemic, demand has doubled at local nonprofits

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 6:59 am

East Palo Alto's Ecumenical Hunger Program currently distributes 1,000 boxes of food per week — at least double the pre-pandemic level of 350 to 500, said Executive Director Lesia Preston.

With families out of work and many not qualifying for government assistance, "the greatest need is food," she wrote in an email.

The 45-year-old nonprofit, which typically provides food, clothing, furniture, household items and social support to local families in need, has temporarily closed all services except for essential food programs, Preston said. She and key staff members are working seven days a week to locate food resources and have them brought to the nonprofit's campus in time for scheduled distributions.

Traditional food bank resources are "diminishing," she said.

At Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley, a major supplier to Ecumenical Hunger Program (EHP), demand has doubled since the start of the pandemic.

"Even before COVID-19, Second Harvest was responding to a level of food insecurity in Silicon Valley that indicated there was already a crisis happening, providing groceries to more than 260,000 people per month," Second Harvest spokeswoman Diane Baker Hayward said.

The agency now serves more than a half million people per month, she said.

To supplement food supplies from the food bank, Preston and her staff have contacted local grocery stores, warehouses, restaurants and farms to see if they can get donations or purchase critical supplies in bulk.

"As EHP can no longer accept volunteers, staff members are wearing multiple hats, which include sourcing food, picking up and accepting fresh food donations, stocking the food pantry, packing food boxes, directing traffic and more," Preston said.

Food boxes containing protein, vegetables, grains, cereals and canned goods are distributed using a drive-thru method at the agency's Pulgas Avenue headquarters in East Palo Alto.

Donations can be shipped, mailed or dropped off Tuesday through Thursday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 2411 Pulgas Ave., East Palo Alto.

For more information on how to donate, go to ehpcares.org, email Associate Director LaKesha Evans at [email protected] or call 650 323-7781 ext. 1200.

Those needing food assistance can call 650 323-7781 or stop by the agency Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon or 2:30-4:30 p.m.

For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank, go to shfb.org.

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