Story, video and pictures by KSBW.

HOLLISTER, Calif. —Hundreds of San Benito County families received meals just before Christmas. Partnering with local restaurants, volunteers with the Community Foodbank of San Benito distributed bags full of spaghetti, salads and cookies to those in need. The group handed out enough food to feed 1,300 people.

“We received a large donation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” explained Sarah Nordwick, director of community outreach for the Community Foodbank of San Benito. “It was a lot of pasta. We didn’t know what to do with it, so we decided to reach out to a couple restaurants. We saw a video of Raul on Facebook saying that he wanted to give to those in need.

Raul Escareno is the co-owner of Mangia, an Italian restaurant in Hollister. Escareno said something told him to share the video on social media.

“In my heart, God just (told me) to share it on our page. So, I shared it on our page,” expressed Escareno. “I have kids of my own and I can’t imagine my kids going to bed with empty stomachs. So, I didn’t want to have anyone else go through that.”

Operating his restaurant for the last five years, Escareno said business has dropped by half since the pandemic hit. However, despite this financial setback, Escareno jumped at the chance to put his kitchen to use.

“On this (distribution) it was like ‘Cool’. Then it was like ‘How much are we going to make? My kitchen alone isn’t going to do it, it’s not going to cut it,’” said Escareno. “So, the veterans hall opened their doors to help us and let us use their kitchen as well, so we had both teams going.”

Seeing the number of families receiving food, Escareno said, is what made it all worth it.

“This isn’t about me. It wasn’t about the recognition. It wasn’t about anything. It was just about feeding people and their families,” emphasized Escareno.

“Our goal is to give a little bit of joy and full bellies for the holiday season,” added Nordwick.

Escareno said they will be working to put another food distribution together for San Benito County residents after the New Year.