SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Upwards of 2,000 cars lined up outside Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana Saturday morning to receive much-needed food assistance from the Orange County Power of One Foundation.
The foundation, which hosts a food giveaway each Saturday, set up a drive-thru food pantry in the parking lot of Calvary Chapel from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to help vulnerable families get groceries for the week.
The organization said that they used to get around 1,200 families at the food giveaways. That number has steadily increased as the pandemic continues and many are still struggling economically.
Aleja Valdivia and her husband have been living in their car since she was laid off from her job due to the pandemic. While they are trying to stay afloat financially, she said she was relieved to see so many others need help as well.
“I told my husband, ‘See? We’re not the only ones,'” she said. “It’s hard….we’re givers. We share everything we have. So, it’s hard on someone’s pride sometimes because they don’t want to ask. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask.”
Nancy Marin was a dozen cars behind her. She’s still working, but with reduced hours, and with three teenagers at home things are getting tough.
“They’re teenagers and they eat!” she said. “You can not say, ‘Oh there’s nothing.’ You can not say that to them. So we have to work around the budget and feed them!”
The pressure of a reduced income for months has many families feeling the pinch like never before. The Power of One Foundation organizes several weekly food giveaways. They are now handing out around 10,000 boxes every week.
“You can see the line is extra long today and as we go more into the cold and people are trying to budget and utility bills go up in the winter too, so there’s all of those impacts,” said Shawnee Witt, a spokesperson for the organizations.
The food boxes include fresh fruit, meat, dairy, and other essentials.
A drive-thru food pantry was also hosted in Los Angeles County. L.A. Regional Food Bank gave away food from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
As COVID-19 cases are increasing across the country, several grocery stores are also imposing restrictions on the number of essential items a person can buy to prevent the shortages seen in the beginning of the pandemic.
Experts are encouraging consumers not to hoard, and to make sure they leave enough supplies for everyone who needs them.