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Central Coast Rescue Mission sees demand triple at weekly grocery distributions

CC Rescue Mission
Posted at 4:17 PM, Feb 21, 2023

Organizers with the Central Coast Rescue Mission in Santa Maria say they have seen the demand at their weekly grocery distributions triple following the impacts of January’s storms.

This past Thursday evening, a long line of people waiting to receive food began forming more than an hour before their grocery outreach event began.

“We already give out about 3,000 pounds of food. Tonight, we have about 4,000 and we don’t even know if that is enough,” said Kelsie Teves-Chang, Central Coast Rescue Mission Community Outreach Coordinator.

“The need is huge. The families out there that we see, they need something little. We distribute everything from eggs, potatoes, we have seen celery come through here, today it looks like we are throwing out some sodas and some chicken,” added Leonard Salazar, a volunteer for the Central Coast Rescue Mission.

Teves-Chang says in 2022, their weekly grocery handouts would typically bring out about 45 families, but in recent weeks that number has grown to more than 120 families who have shown up at the Foursquare Church to get food.

“Most of the people that we see on a weekly basis work in the agricultural fields, and so recently it has been offseason so there hasn’t been much work available. And also, with the storm, there has been a lot of displacement and food insecurity,” she said.

“Right now, there are many people who don’t have work. From the rain, the cold, I think there won’t be more work until March,” said Marcela Regino, a Santa Maria mother who was picking up groceries for the first time at the Central Coast Rescue Mission’s distribution event last Thursday.

In order to provide for the increased demand, Teves-Chang says her group is looking for help.

“Our major need right now is that we need business owners, individuals to help us with this demand that has been rising,” Teves-Chang said. “We are looking for people to help provide us with large volumes of food product. We are also looking for volunteers who speak Spanish who are able to communicate with our guests.”

The nonprofit also has an emergency food pantry at its headquarters in Santa Maria off McClelland Street every Friday morning.

With more rain in the forecast, Teves-Chang says this Thursday’s distribution event will likely be canceled, but a number of other local outreach events will still be taking place throughout the week.

You can find a list of those recurring events by clicking here: