The financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put one in five desert residents at risk of facing hunger. Far-reaching partnerships in the private, government, and non-profit sectors created the safety net for those struggling with food insecurity. Volunteers acted as the glue that held the system together. A helping hand from the community is the only way for hunger relief organizations such as FIND Food Bank to meet the need that remains 60 percent higher than pre-pandemic.
“When we doubled our distribution from 1 million to more than 2 million pounds of food each month, we relied on the National Guard to fill many of the volunteer positions we lost due to the pandemic,” explains FIND CEO Debbie Espinosa. “Now that the Guard is finishing their mission at FIND, it is critical to fill in those gaps with consistent volunteerism from our community members.”
As the home of FIND’s Coachella Valley distribution center, the City of Indio is committing to a volunteer service day at FIND Food Bank to make sure we leave no one hungry locally, kicking off their Volunteer Service Day on September 3rd during Hunger Action Month. FIND’s Volunteer Initiative asks every city to lead the charge for their communities to get out and give back to their neighbors.
“The City of Indio has been proud to partner with FIND Food Bank by providing food, funds, and volunteers to ensure none of our residents go hungry during the crisis,” states Mayor Elaine Holmes. “Our staff volunteered during the height of COVID last December to help meet the needs of our citizens, and now we are returning to FIND’s warehouse to lend a much-needed helping hand to the food bank and the communities they serve.”
In total, eight desert cities including Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, Coachella and the Riverside County Fourth District’s Office are making the commitment to a Volunteer Service Day in the subsequent months from October 2021-September 2022. The goal is to keep the message alive that our communities are still recovering and food insecurity remains at a critical level.
If you are interested in joining our cities and giving back to your neighbors, you can sign up for a volunteer orientation at //findfoodbank.org/volunteer. After creating an account and attending a volunteer orientation, you can sign up for your first volunteer event in FIND Food Bank’s warehouse or at a mobile market distribution.
FIND Food Bank
Founded in 1983, FIND Food Bank is the Desert’s Regional Food Bank serving over 5,000 square miles, including eastern Riverside and southern San Bernardino Counties, from the Hi-Desert and Joshua Tree across the Coachella Valley to Anza, down to the Salton Sea and the border of California and Arizona. FIND is the largest hunger-relief and food rescue organization in the region. They are the Feeding America food bank for the Coachella Valley desert region and recognized as the USDA distributor for eastern Riverside County and the County of Riverside, and the State of CA as the regional Disaster Response food bank. FIND’s mission is to end hunger today, tomorrow, and for a lifetime. To end hunger for Today, FIND currently feeds an average of 150,000 individuals, families, children, seniors, and veterans each month. Their 150 distribution sites include over 80 community agency partnerships (soup kitchens, religious organizations, local nonprofits) and 44 community mobile markets that serve food deserts and low-income areas. FIND's two distribution centers strategically located in the Coachella Valley and Hi-Desert help ensure equitable food distribution for all. To end hunger for Tomorrow, FIND offers outreach services that connect residents to benefits programs that improve financial security. FIND works to end hunger for a Lifetime by identifying the root causes of hunger to break cycles of food insecurity to achieve self-sufficiency.