On March 18, Elk Grove Food Bank Services announced they only had 15 days’ worth of food left in their Dino Drive facility.

During the same week, Sacramento County public health officials called for the county’s residents to stay at home and for “non-essential” businesses to close in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The food bank soon struggled to support their nearly 6,000 clients after grocery donations declined.

The food bank requested $100,000 in assistance from the city of Elk Grove in order to provide enough groceries for their clients. They also sought volunteer help from the local community since they lost a few dozen volunteers, due to concerns over the coronavirus. Requests for food assistance reportedly arose by 465% in the first week-and-a-half of Sacramento County’s coronavirus situation.

Since their call for help, the food bank received a slew of financial and volunteer support.  Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, pledged $20,000 to support the nonprofit. Apple Inc., which has a 28-year-old campus in Elk Grove, gave a $100,000 donation to the food bank.

Marie Jachino, the food bank’s executive director, said she was “speechless” from the Apple donation.

“To know that we will be able to continue to serve those whose lives have been turned upside down by this crisis is nothing short of a miracle,” she said in a March 26 press statement.

On the following day, Jachino told the Citizen that more support for her nonprofit will soon be needed. Nearly 140 new households were registered as food bank clients within eight days.

“I anticipate that in the next month, we’ll go over 7,000 to 8,000 (clients),” Jachino said.

Food bank, Rotarians deliver

groceries to isolated seniors, residents

During a time when numerous seniors are staying home across Elk Grove during the coronavirus pandemic, members of the Rotary Club of Laguna Sunrise stepped in to create a grocery delivery service for them.

Volunteers package groceries at the food bank’s warehouse and then drop them off at the doors of four senior apartment complexes across the Elk Grove region. Clients are informed ahead of time before their groceries arrive.

Kevin Spease, a Rotarian and a former Elk Grove planning commissioner, spearheaded an online campaign to raise at least $21,000 to purchase groceries for seniors. This project started after the food bank reported they only had two weeks of good supplies left in their facility.

Spease is organizing a “Supermarket Sweep Team” that has a dozen volunteers use cash donations to buy 10 items of a specific food from supermarkets across Elk Grove.

Kevin’s wife, Angela noted that teenagers and elementary school students are creating create greeting cards for seniors to enjoy when they receive their delivered groceries.

“That’s keeping the kids busy,” she said, while laughing.  

Angela mentioned that one senior sent her fellow volunteers a homemade card that called them, “Food Bank Angels.”

She said, “A lot of them say they don’t know what they’ll do since they’re stuck inside.”

The new delivery service for shut-in seniors is similar to the food bank’s 14-year-old Wellness Bag program that supports local residents who are housebound or medically fragile.

Volunteers regularly drop off groceries to recipients every month. Jachino said that deliveries will now increase to weekly visits.

Dolores Giorgi has volunteered to deliver groceries for the Wellness Bag program for the past five years. She mentioned that she keeps gloves and masks in her car for the deliveries.

“They become a part of your family,” Giorgi said about the clients. “They all really appreciate what the food bank is doing for them – it’s not something they’re taking for granted.”

One of the Wellness Bag’s clients is Ava Gardner, an Elk Grove resident who has a compromised immune system. She worked to establish the problem for residents who cannot leave their homes.

“A lot of us have compromised immune systems or cancer; we’re just not able to get out,” Gardner said in a telephone interview.

She noted that the new coronavirus situation makes chronically ill people like her especially vulnerable.

“If I get the virus, I will be gone in two or three days,” Gardner said.

The 21-year Elk Grove resident expressed her gratitude for Giorgi and other Wellness Bag volunteers.

 “It’s nice for people like Dolores to come in and smile; it’s good to talk to a human being,” she said.  

Readers who would like to donate to the fundraiser for the senior delivery program can visit,  https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-elk-grove-senior-shutin-during-covid19

Those who are interested in volunteering for the Elk Grove Food Bank can call (916) 685-8453 or visit www.ElkGroveFoodBank.org.