Volunteers help with drive-thru food distribtion at Community Food bank of San Benito County in Hollister, California.

Recent flooding has displaced at least 60 families in San Benito County and impacted hundreds more. Community Food Bank of San Benito is keeping up with the needs of our neighbors, even as the effects of the storms compound.

Community Food Bank is collaborating with Second Harvest of Santa Cruz, the California Association of Food Banks, and the California Department of Social Services to obtain more food. These partners have enabled the Food Bank to offer cases of water, fresh oranges, boxes of shelf-stable food, and some hygiene supplies at the upcoming emergency distributions.

Sarah Nordwick, CEO and Executive Director, said “We’re looking at purchasing an additional $18,000 of food as well. That’s staple food items like rice, beans, and pasta to help with the increased need.”

The food bank has continued operations and added emergency food distributions. The Marketplace is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 to 11:45 am. The Mobile Food Pantry continues to make the rounds Monday through Thursday.

Community Food Bank will also host emergency drive-thru distributions at the Food Bank on Saturday, March 18th from 1:30 to 4:00 pm, and Tuesday, March 21st from 3:00 – 5:00 in San Juan Bautista at the Community Center. The Food Bank is located at 1133 San Felipe Road in Hollister. Check this website and Community Food Bank’s Facebook page for announcements.

Nordwick said the last two emergency distributions brought in over five hundred families and she expects the need will be similar this coming week. “We have plenty of food,” she said. “We will not run out.”

Families and individuals in need can also reach out to other collaborating agencies, including:

Additionally, an independent community member, Elia Salinas has secured a warehouse and is collecting donations of clothing, furniture, and other household goods for the families who have been displaced. She can be contacted directly at 831-537-7312.

Nordwick points out how multiple floods, the pandemic, inflation, and more have created wave after wave of need in San Benito County. The impacts are not just felt by low-income neighbors either.

“With roads closed for multiple days, people lost work if they commute out of town,” she said. “A lot of our farms are under water, so farm workers have no work or wages. And with all the rains come potholes. Anyone living paycheck to paycheck might not have budgeted for a flat tire. That’s the context, the ripple effects of these storms.”

Community Food Bank of San Benito County works with volunteers to distribute food.

Help has come in surprising ways as well. When the rains started on Friday, Jim Lewis at San Benito High School had already placed the school’s order with Domino’s. When the schools were closed, he coordinated with Domino’s to get 50 pizzas donated. Staff gave them to customers, volunteers, and then the families that began arriving at the food bank as the waters rose.

Even then, each family wanted to make sure the next family had enough to eat, Nordwick said. “They still wanted to make sure their neighbors were taken care of. Each of us has the ability to do something, even something small, that can make a big impact in our community. The families we saw that day hadn’t lost the spirit of helping each other, even though they were losing everything. That should motivate us all to step up and do our part. Whatever that part is, there’s nothing that’s too small.”

Those interested in helping should contact Community Food Bank. Volunteers will be needed at the emergency distributions. Those wishing to support the food bank and making sure no neighbor experiences hunger at this trying time, can make a gift here.