OC Heritage Council: Testing, Vaccines, and Food
By Dianne Anderson
Nothing brings out the community for COVID-19 testing and vaccines like food and milk.
Last June, Cathy Woodard connected with USDA Farmers to Families program, and has since distributed thousands of boxes packed with dairy, produce, and meats out to the community, but milk was the most striking example of local need.
She said it was like that old school “Got milk?” commercial – except it was so much more.
Their first delivery from the USDA was a whopping 2,000 gallons. She didn’t know how she could get such a huge amount and get it out to the community in time, even for free.
“The truck shows up and it has 5,000 gallons, and I’m like, oh my God. In three hours we got rid of all 5,000 gallons of milk. People need milk, kids drink milk. Someone said Cathy do you know what a gallon of milk costs?” said Woodard with the Orange County Heritage Council.
OCHC has been nonstop in getting deliveries and USDA food distributions out to the community, along with assisting with COVID testing. They are also working with vaccine popups and other outreach in four locations in Anaheim.
On April 10 at the Anaheim Grand Theater, she expects to assist with more testing and giving out food boxes. On April 24, they are partnering on another event with the city of Santa Ana.
She hopes to see more participation of the Black community in getting access to the vaccines, which should be more widely available in the weeks ahead, particularly since the community has been heavily impacted.
“Our community is the last one to get the vaccine for several reasons because a lot of us are scared to take it, and they’re not making it readily available for us. We’re hoping we’re going to get 500 vaccines to vaccinate people,” she said.
Since last June, the OC Heritage Council has been focused on the greatest area of need, which is food distribution. They turn out two to three weekends a month and are instrumental in getting food to other agencies, including deliveries to organizations in Orange, Riverside, and Los Angeles counties.
The combo food boxes come packed with dairy, produce and meat, and are valued at about $40 per box. She said that Black churches, organizations and nonprofits have been coming out, some have been picking up 40 to 50 boxes to bring back to their members to distribute to their local communities.
“On April 10th we’ll get two truckloads, so we’ll have 2,500 food boxes that we’re giving away over in Anaheim,” she said. “We’re just trying to serve the community right now.”
The Orange County Heritage Council is probably best known for bringing the Black History Parade to Orange County, along with many other cultural events and activities spanning over 40 years.
Woodard is also planning to work more closely with cultural diversity outreach in Anaheim to launch a program focused on opening up lines of communication between police and the Black community.
She expects to send out a countywide survey of Black organizations to see if their members are interested in getting involved. The idea came while talking with one of the local Black officers in Anaheim.
She feels it is important to keep the upcoming dialogue specifically geared toward the needs of the Black community, and that the city’s police chief seems open and committed to engaging more outreach.
At this point, she said they must keep the conversation tightly on the issues facing the Black community, who usually have their concerns upstaged by other groups vying for attention to get their issues addressed.
“Our group is just about the African American community and the problems that we’re having with the police,” she said. “We want to start with our community first, and our issues if it branches out to other communities, that’s fine. Right now, it’s about us because we are the ones having the most problems.”
For more information on locations and distribution, or to support the cause, see http://oc-hc.org
For information on the USDA food distribution program, see