SANTA CRUZ — After the COVID-19 pandemic brought on many individuals to begin working from residence, or cease working fully, the Holy Cross Meals Pantry skilled each an inflow of volunteers and people in want of assist. In current months, the variety of individuals in want has remained the identical however many volunteers have left, which leaves the remainder of the meals pantry’s longtime volunteers in a bind.
“We obtained quite a lot of assist initially with COVID-19 as a result of so many individuals had misplaced their jobs or have been working from residence, and we obtained extra youthful, fitter individuals capable of are available in and assist,” stated Holy Cross Meals Pantry Supervisor Irene Lennox . “Step by step over the past 12 months they have been going again to regular life, and we’re discovering that we do not have as many match individuals to assist us.”
The meals pantry is likely one of the a number of neighborhood providers supplied by the Holy Cross Church on Excessive Road close to the Mission Plaza in Santa Cruz. The Holy Cross Meals Pantry might serve from 50 to 200 individuals per day and serves about 300-600 people complete in a month. To assist unload, set up, and distribute the meals, the pantry wants about 10 individuals per shift. Nonetheless, it is presently working with roughly 5 volunteers per shift. To check, Second Harvest Meals Financial institution of Santa Cruz County, which distributes meals without charge to the Holy Cross Meals Pantry, has about 850 volunteers and feeds about 75,000 individuals monthly.
“Volunteers are the one factor we’re all the time wanting,” stated Holy Cross Meals Pantry Director, Al Richard, who has volunteered on the pantry for 22 years. “We’re all the time in want of volunteers.”
Earlier than the pandemic, Lennox, Richard and different longtime volunteers principally relied on the elder neighborhood to assist function the meals financial institution. After the pandemic struck, to make sure the well being and security of its patrons, the pantry workers determined to maneuver operations outdoors of the constructing , which implies that they should carry quite a few, heavy tables, produce containers and different meals objects down a slim flight of stairs to the service space on the sidewalk.
“Retired volunteers are usually not in a position to deal with the steps at the very best of instances, and so they definitely cannot carry down the heavy tables and crates of fruit and greens,” stated Lennox. “I am in that place myself now that I am age, and we’d like at the least one or two younger, match volunteers per shift.”
The 5 individuals working on the pantry Friday morning have been all long-time volunteers. Due to their expertise, and regardless of being short-staffed, the group was capable of arrange and distribute the meals to the lengthy line of patrons in an environment friendly method. The volunteers all appeared to get pleasure from their work, and in between filling luggage with produce and canned items, have been keen to say the relationships they develop with the common patrons.
“The factor I like about volunteering right here is that you simply develop relationships with the individuals and the households,” stated Carol DeCarvalho who was volunteering together with her husband Francis. “And I get to know the individuals by title and what they prefer to eat so we will individualize what we give out.”
The Holy Cross Meals Pantry operates 10 am to 1 pm Wednesdays and Fridays, and 10:30 am to 12:30 pm Sundays. Volunteer shifts on the pantry are two hours lengthy both within the morning to arrange and distribute meals or within the afternoon to carry every part again upstairs. Along with volunteers who can raise greater than 50 kilos, Lennox is hoping for volunteers who can function supervisors.
“We desperately want extra volunteers,” stated Lennox. “It will be nice if we had tons extra volunteers so we may take the strain off of the present ones. They do not complain, however they’ve their very own lives to steer.”
For details about volunteering for the Holy Cross Meals Pantry, go to holycrosssantacruz.com.