Food for Peo­ple rises in de­mand

Times Standard (Eureka) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Shomik Mukher­jee smukher­jee@times-stan­dard.com @ShomikMukh­er­jee on Twit­ter

When vol­un­teers and di­rec­tors at Food for Peo­ple dis­cov­ered a sewage backup last month at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Eureka ware­house, the writ­ing was on the (flood­dam­aged) wall: They were in for a lo­gis­ti­cal night­mare.

As it turns out, that was just the start.

A global out­break of COVID-19, the dis­ease caused by the fast­spread­ing coro­n­avirus, has in­creased lo­cal de­mand for the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s food in­ven­tory, while so­cial-dis­tanc­ing en­force­ment has com­pli­cated how food is dis­trib­uted to thou­sands across Humboldt County.

And while the group quickly ral­lied to an­other pri­mary dis­tri­bu­tion lo­ca­tion — the old Eureka Cham­ber of Com­merce build­ing — and found one, go­ing on two, ware­houses to store its prod­ucts, the past few weeks have been a chal­lenge.

“We’re work­ing through it,” said Carly Rob­bins, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s deputy di­rec­tor. “I don’t think any of us thought that we would be put in the po­si­tion we’re in now, which is a lot more need in our com­mu­nity and some­thing we only see in­creas­ing here in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture.”

By dead­line, Rob­bins couldn’t pro­vide ex­act num­bers on the in­creased de­mand, but she said it has in­creased across the county.

COVID-19’s spread has prompted Cal­i­for­nia to close off pub­lic spa­ces, like dine-in restau­rants, and or­dered res­i­dents to shel­ter in place. As a re­sult, Food for Peo­ple’s coun­ty­wide pantries have be­come an even more vi­tal re­source for find­ing a meal.

Rob­bins said the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been trained by Eureka po­lice to cre­ate so­cial dis­tance be­tween those who come by for food, since health guide­lines call for res­i­dents to re­main six feet apart from each other. Food is now bagged and pack­aged be­fore dis­tri­bu­tion.

Food for Peo­ple is also “work­ing to­ward” re­ceiv­ing help from the Na­tional Guard af­ter Gov. Gavin New­som called on mil­i­tary aid for statewide food banks.

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