Food lines long in Richmond as residents endure rising costs

Food lines long in Richmond as residents endure rising costs
The line at the mobile food bank distribution at Richmond Civic Center on Thursday, Sept. 28. (All photos by Mike Kinney)

By Mike Kinney

Food Bank volunteers greeted long lines of people waiting in their cars and along the sidewalk at Thursday’s bi-monthly food distribution event in the Richmond Civic Center parking lot.

Starting Oct. 12, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano’s regular distribution will no longer provide drive-thru services, and will only offer walk-up due to safety reasons.

We spoke with a couple of recipients waiting in line today. They expressed gratitude that the food bank will continue to distribute here on a regular basis, particularly as the costs to live have increased.

“I am grateful that we are able to get food here today,” said Ramon Martinez, who was waiting in line. Martinez described food prices as increasingly outrageous.

Added Jessica Johnson, “The closer we get to the holidays, the prices for food will be skyrocketing again. Having the ability to come here and get food is wonderful and really helps my family get through the next couple of weeks.”

In the last eight months, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has seen demand for its services increase by about 50,000 people, to roughly 400,000, according to Jeremy Crittenden, spokesperson for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. The demand is only expected to increase, he said.

“We are aware that we are helping families that are struggling to buy groceries with our pantry distribution sites when we come to their community,” Crittenden said. “And now with a pending shutdown of the federal government, we know there will be more people in need of our food distribution for their families.”

Recipients at distributions can acquire bags of non-perishable foods, fresh produce and proteins. As an example, people today received eggs, cheese, ground turkey meat, bags of onions, potatoes and apples. Other items included cans of vegetables and pasta, a package of chicken breast and a box of macaroni and cheese.

Distributions will continue to be held in the Richmond Civic Center at 25th Street and Barrett Avenue on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays from noon to 1 pm. Organizers say it is important to bring one or two bags with handles.

Of course, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano also provides regular distributions at other locations in Richmond and around the County. To view a list of distributions, including times, locations and other details, click here.

The Food Bank thrives with help from the community, particularly thanks to financial donations and volunteering.

“Volunteers are the heart of how we are able help and support families and people in need,” Crittenden said. “Volunteering and making a difference in people’s lives is a beautiful feeling.”

To find out ways to donate, go here. For volunteer opportunities, go here