‘People seem a little bit more desperate’: Yolo Food Bank sees longer lines at meal distributions during pandemic

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WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The pandemic has continued to fuel a rise in hunger in the community.

At 5 a.m. Wednesday, people began to line up at Sutter Health Park, knowing the food wouldn’t show up for hours, but in times like these, some can’t risk being left out.

“People seem a little bit more desperate. They’re wanting to get into line earlier. We have some folks last Saturday that were sleeping overnight,” said Claire Johnston, a volunteer lead at Yolo Food Bank.

Richard Riplie, a Yolo Food Bank client, calls the program “a blessing.”

Riplie told FOX40 he lost his job eight months ago. Though the forklift driver wasn’t let go because of COVID-19, he’s still feeling its effects.

Riplie said he believes the pandemic has made it harder to find work.

“It’s been kind of tough. I’ve put a bunch of applications in for work, haven’t heard anything back yet,” he said.

And it’s put his own family at risk.

“I got some family that has the COVID, and some of them aren’t doing so well; some of them are doing okay,” he added.

This food giveaway from the Yolo Food Bank has been critical to keeping his family going.

“I come out here once a week to try to help with the food and whatever I can with the household,” Riplie said.

Amid the hundreds of cars that turned out, there could be triple as many stories like Riplie’s.

Johnston said many cars are picking up for multiple households.

At this weekly Wednesday drive-thru, volunteers pack people’s trunks with items donated from grocery stores and other food distributors in hopes of making things a bit easier.

The food bank helps people like Riplie still set aside something special for a loved one, even if he does it a little differently this year.

“They’re sick right now, so I’m not going to be able to see my grandson for Christmas stuff. So, we’ll drop the presents off to them Christmas morning and knock on the door and leave,” he said.

Yolo Food Bank has food distributions multiple times a week throughout the county.

For more details, visit their website yolofoodbank.org.

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