by Bruno Pillet, Vice President of Programs and Services

The significant increase in the demand caused by the pandemic taught us about the elasticity of our distribution capability. We were serving 250,000 people on average a month and thought we were operating at our limits. But, within weeks we restructured and strengthened our operations to serve an average of 500,000 people every month.

One of the main reasons we have been able to serve more people during the pandemic is because we now provide pre-packed boxes at drive-thru grocery distributions, which allows us to serve more people very efficiently. When the pandemic ends and we can return to farmers-market style distributions, we expect to continue running several of the 130 drive-thrus. There are a lot of people who like the experience and convenience of this type of distribution.

St. Lucy's Parish drive-thru distribution

In addition to the increased demand, we soon discovered that a lot of seniors weren’t comfortable going outside to get food because of the pandemic. They were asking us to bring food to their home, so we quickly expanded our home delivery program — we’re now delivering to more than 5,000 households a month. We have also added pandemic-specific delivery services, so if someone calls us and says a person in their household has tested positive for COVID and they can’t leave their home, we’ll drop off food for them so they can safely access nutritious groceries while isolating.

Vanessa, a single mother, reached out to us for immediate home delivery assistance when she and her 11-year-old son had COVID at the same time.

“I couldn’t believe how fast I got my food. I called yesterday and I got my food today, boxes of food.” – Vanessa, San Jose

Because of the economic situation resulting from shelter-in-place, we have attracted a lot of people who have never considered getting food assistance in the past. I think that will continue to happen. We’ve done a lot in this past year to make the experience the best it can be for the people who come to us looking for help. I’m grateful for our donors, volunteers and partners who allowed that to happen.