Orange County officials are expected to vote to provide $3 million in additional federal funding toward local food banks at a meeting on Oct. 20.
In May, an original provision of $3 million was given and divided between the two largest food banks in the California county: Orange County Food Bank, run by Community Action Partnership, and Second Harvest Food Bank.
Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel said during an Oct. 15 press conference that the supervisors plan to vote in favor of the additional funding and an extension of the county’s partnership with the organizations.
“The original agreement, which was set to expire, would extend to November 30th under this agenda item and would add an additional $3 million of federal CARES [Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security] Act and FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] funding for a total of $6 million,” she said.
The next food drive is planned for Oct. 29, from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Huntington Beach Sports Complex, Steel said.
“I am delighted to see the community coming together to help each other during these difficult times,” she said.
Food banks across the country have also been relying on boxes filled with meat, dairy, and fresh produce bought from American farmers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Farmers to Families program, which is scheduled to end on Oct. 31.
The USDA program has purchased more than 106 million food boxes for use by food banks nationwide since May 15.
Local food banks have found such prepackaged boxes are very convenient for members of the community to pick up during the COVID-19 pandemic via drive-thru.
The $3 million would provide nearly 1.5 million total pounds of food for each organization, and feed around 50,000 Orange County families during the next few months.
Gregory Scott, the president and CEO of Community Action Partnership and the Orange County Food Bank, said his organization helps a wide range of people.
“Persons who historically require assistance from organizations like the Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAP OC) include homeless persons, women with children, persons with a disability, the unemployed, people experiencing an illness, those experiencing the separation of a relationship, seniors on fixed incomes, and the working poor,” Scott said in a recent article for the organization.
Second Harvest had already been focused heavily on providing food for senior citizens, according to a recent newsletter. As many as 22 percent of seniors in Orange County were food insecure even before the pandemic, reported the organization.
“Seniors are a population that continue to grow in Orange County—and sadly, the number of seniors facing hunger is on the rise too. As the cost of living skyrockets, their fixed income no longer supports their daily needs and monthly expenses,” said CEO Harald Herrmann in the newsletter.
Healthy, nutritious food is also helpful for reducing the risk of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, hypertension, and obesity.
“Those are the conditions that would put people at a higher mortality and morbidity rate once folks are infected with COVID-19,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency and the county health officer, at a recent press conference.