Nonprofits Try to Get Food to Community
By Dianne Anderson
Patricia Nickols-Butler has been the go-to resource in providing food and many other services for the low-income community of San Bernardino County for many years, but her agency has never seen anything like this before.
In the coming weeks, she is bracing for increased demand.
Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County is still open to serve their many nonprofit partners with food to redistribute to the community.
She said they are taking great measures to protect employees and the community.
“I believe the demand for food is going to continue so the community donations of surplus food will be helpful too. It gives us more flexibility in terms of the people we’re able to serve,” said Nickols-Butler, CEO of CAPSB.
Shoring up their structure for the 250 nonprofits and agencies that operate with a large core of volunteers is a priority. There is also an urgent need for more CAP volunteers to help box and bag it and get it out to the people.
“We are going to have to change our business model so we can get food out to the community, but in a different setting,” she said.
CAP is sending out communications to get more folks willing to help others at this time. In the past, many of their volunteers were elderly.
“Some of those volunteers are seniors who are the most vulnerable, we expect there to be some cancellations. There’s a shortfall,” she said.
Pastor Paul Jones, who distributes about 1,000 bags of food per month to various locations and senior centers, was also out over the weekend and taking all the necessary precautions.
He also partners with the County food bank to help continue his distribution, including their last Friday event.
“We usually give out food at Perris Hill Park every third Friday. I asked for more food to give at the park because of the virus,” he said. “Pre-packed in boxes, we [gave] food out with masks and gloves.”
It was a grab and go with adequate social distancing. Earlier this month, they distributed food bags to seniors at Highland and Medical Center, and wore gloves and masks.
“We told them don’t be offended, this is for your safety and our safety,” said Jones, pastor of COGIC Zion Elect New Generation Ministry.
When it’s all over, he thinks people may have a renewed appreciation for churches. Some people don’t know where to turn now. The physical church is not the only solution, he said, but helps to have a place to go.
“All this time people had Jesus in a box. When you needed Him you would just run to the box,” he said. “Now the doors are closed.”
Alpha Phi Alpha Inc., is reaching out to frat families through President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. They are working the phones to connect with their elderly members.
On the westside of San Bernardino, Charle Jacobs is concerned that seniors are struggling to stand up in long lines to get food.
For herself, she is able to go shopping, but long lines can be a health hazard for the elderly. She said seniors should have a convenient way to register for extra help to food access, or they may have to fend for themselves. “I don’t know how it would work unless older folks sign up, and give their addresses and have someone leave a box at their front door,” she said.
At the Sahaba Initiative, Arbazz Mohammed has been helping people access food, and directing them to resources. They had some funders, partners and donors help contribute to their direct food distribution and their regular Saturday distribution for families.
“We are keeping our food packaging and distribution open, taking the precautions that we need,” said Mohammed, founding president of the nonprofit.
His program works with several other groups, including some who help the disabled community. Others are accessing their food pantry, where he sees the most demand.
Last Saturday, they had several sponsors, and opened their pantry from 12-2 p.m. The week before, he had served 150 families.
“We pick up directly from the food bank, and grocery stores. For this week, we do have enough food, but we don’t know what it’s going to look like as the demand increases,” he said.
They are asking everyone to create distance while they wait in line. They are practicing social distancing, and taking smaller capacity of volunteers, so there’s enough space.
Everyone wears gloves, but he said it’s the people who are helping other people who are most at risk — at hospitals, doctors, and those who provide services. “We’re trying to reduce contact. We’re taking the bags, leaving them for the people, and moving on to the next person,” he said.
To find out about more resources, see:
For more resources, information and updates, see https://www.capsbc.org
For Sahaba Initiative resources:
For more information on food distribution, see