With the food bank already starting with a small team, the COVID-19 pandemic created a big problem: losing volunteers. As Shurla Lovejoy, Manager of Operations/Food Bank for Dignity Health Connected Living, states, “Pre-COVID we had 104 volunteers. We had 10 who never left us. The rest are slowly returning.”
Thankfully, additional help came through in the form of Team Rubicon. Shurla continues, “We also had the great fortune to have Team Rubicon help us with distributions during COVID-19. They are retired military personnel who are still giving back to our community!”
One of the Food Bank’s programs is their Senior Brown Bag program, which serves low-income seniors aged 60 or older. Each month bags of nutritious food are distributed at eight distribution sites located throughout Shasta County. A line of cars at a Senior Brown Bag distribution is pictured below.
It is clear just how important the Food Bank is to the community. Shurla shares, “Many times we have people in tears because they are so grateful for the help with food. One man in particular was attending one of our distributions when he had some kind of cardiac event. He wasn’t allowed to take his food bag in the ambulance, so he refused to go. His food was so important to him that he was willing to risk his health. One of our volunteers offered to follow the ambulance to the hospital, so the man would be able to get medical attention.”
Dignity Health Connected Living Food Bank participated in a Project Homeless Connect event in July, where they were able to get food to almost 600 unhoused individuals from across Shasta County.
The Food Bank appreciates the help that small food banks receive from being a CAFB member. “After 42 years, there are still people in Shasta County who don’t know about us,” states Shurla. “The billboard ads CAFB purchased for us helped bring attention to our Food Bank.”
Additionally, CAFB’s Farm to Family team was able to help the Food Bank out in a big way: “During COVID, we would have had to turn down produce and meats if not for the CONEX trailer that CAFB rented for us.” We are grateful for the ways in which we at CAFB have been able to help support our members like Dignity Health Connected Living Food Bank.
As for what’s coming next: “We are going to use some of our CalFood money to purchase 1,800 turkeys for the holidays,” says Shurla. “We’re hoping to distribute them during November.”
You can learn more about Dignity Health Connected Living Food Bank at their website.
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