Food for Families is what you get when the Salvation Army, Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley and the City of Santa Clara — population almost 130,000 — pool their resources and know-how.
Through this free food program, launched Nov. 18, low-income Santa Clara households can receive weekly USDA food boxes containing produce, dairy, pantry items and frozen protein such as chicken.
“The Salvation Army has an agreement with Second Harvest to receive food and a physical location in Santa Clara conducive for food distribution, but no staffing to support weekly operations,” said Assistant City Manager Cynthia Bojorquez.
“The City has the staffing, technical expertise in commodity points of distribution (CPOD), and equipment (pop-ups, signage, traffic control, etc.) to safely and efficiently distribute food.”
The first week, 107 households, representing 333 individuals, arrived at the drive-thru distribution center set up at the Salvation Army Citadel at 3090 Homestead Rd.
These are low-income families and individuals whose food needs during the COVID-19 pandemic had not been met by other community outreach efforts, such as meals for youth and seniors.
“Since this pandemic, my son’s hours have drastically reduced, and now that he’s not getting the extra supplemental from unemployment, we are really struggling to get rent paid each month,” wrote Nina on her application form. “Any help is so much appreciated during this time.”
The residents stayed in their vehicles as City Disaster Service Workers loaded their car trunks with boxes of food that had earlier been delivered by Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley (www.shfb.org).
Santa Clara residents and families in the Santa Clara Unified School District must pre-register (the first time only) for assistance and be issued an identification card.
Download a registration form from www.SantaClaraCA.gov/Food4Families. Forms are also available and can be dropped off at the Salvation Army, 3090 Homestead Rd., Mon. to Fri., between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“Thank you for what you all are doing for our community with Santa Clara food assistance,” wrote Mark on his form. “Please help. I really need it! Thank you.”
Food distribution continues every Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., through December, with the possibility of extending the program through June 2021.
“The resources are great, the need for food is growing greater, and when we all come together, united to do what we do best, the effect on a community, is greatest,” said Lieutenant Gina Noble, representing the Salvation Army Silicon Valley (https://siliconvalley.salvationarmy.org).
“It’s pretty amazing how we are now all working together to well serve people.”
Earlier in November, Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS) (www.svcommunityservices.org) was named Nonprofit of the Year by the Mission City Community Fund, in recognition of its 50th year of outreach to food-insecure Sunnyvale residents.
The number of food-insecure families was growing even before the pandemic. In 2019, SCS helped 10,318 people. Estimates are that 30 percent of Sunnyvale residents — out of a population of 152,000 — are struggling to keep food on the table in 2020.
In a special holiday program, on designated days, 2,500 registered SCS client families, totaling 4,500 individuals, will receive Target gift cards and extra holiday food in a drive-thru distribution.
SCS has outgrown its facility at 725 Kifer Rd. and has raised over $8.5 million towards a goal of $15 million to renovate a facility three times the size of the current one. Its move to 1160 Kern Aven., Sunnyvale, is targeted for June of 2021.
“It’s been a remarkably difficult year, yet full of hope at the same time. The world has been faced with a global health crisis none of us could have predicted, yet our community, here in the Valley of Heart’s Delight, has shown us what good neighbors do in a crisis,” said SCS Executive Director Marie Bernard.
“We help each other. Sunnyvale Community Services is fortunate to serve in a community that looks out for one another.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit organizations are unable to accept donations of food. This makes financial support to them more critical than ever as they collaborate to serve more hungry neighbors than ever before.