March 17, 2021 marks exactly one year since the initial Shelter-In-Place order for Santa Clara County was enacted. Since then, CSA has been on the frontlines helping the community cope with the wide range of challenges, from health and safety to economic, wrought by this pandemic.
To mark this milestone, our team shares some highlights, challenges and successes from an extraordinary year.
“CSA, the County and the cities of Mountain View and Los Altos — along with incredible volunteers and supporters — engaged in an heroic effort keeping people housed and fed during the pandemic,” says CSA Executive Director Tom Myers. “It’s pretty remarkable what this community has been able to do, and the collective generosity has been incredible.”
“Life didn’t just pause last March,” says Community and Public Relations Coordinator Eonis Cibrian Pelayo. “Many of our clients continue to have real every day fears on top of the pandemic — whether due to their economic or migratory status or other concerns. To keep clients and other constituents apprised of up-to-the-minute news impacting programs and services at CSA and beyond, we introduced a weekly videolog that comes out every Monday and is posted on our Facebook page. This ongoing communication has helped a lot.”
Other milestones since a year ago today include the following:
- The agency gained 1,300 new client households, up from an average of 200 in a typical year.
- Our Food & Nutrition Center and Senior Nutrition Program pivoted to outdoor/drive through services to keep the community safely fed. On average, nearly 200 seniors now pick up lunch each weekday, up from around 130 pre-pandemic. Additionally, CSA is delivering groceries to approximately 70 senior households each week.
- The Rental Assistance Program ramped up quickly, serving over 1,000 households, many with up to three months’ rent. Over $4 million has already been spent, in partnership with the City of Mountain View and other supporters.
- The newly-launched COVID Positive Relief Team, which delivers groceries and supplies to those diagnosed with COVID so they can safely quarantine at home, has already served 96 households.
“When the pandemic began, it quickly became evident that food service programs like ours were needed more than ever,” says Food & Nutrition Center Director Christine Flego. “Almost overnight, our services went from an indoor market to a pre-bagged food distribution outdoors, pitching tents and tables in our parking lot. Even with kinks in supply chains resulting in limited quantities from time to time, the FNC pushed out over 600,000 pounds of food over the year – almost 50% of that in fresh produce.”
“Over the past year, we have seen the faces behind the masks coming through our gates change as well,” continues Christine. “We saw the decline in the number of seniors coming onsite for groceries so we joined forces with our Senior Services case managers to increase food delivery to these homebound clients, seeing the number of deliveries almost double weekly. We also saw a number of people standing in line for food for the first time, people that before this pandemic would not have been counted among the food insecure.”
“This has been a year like no other for CSA,” says Tom Myers. “While we take comfort in knowing that we have done everything possible to keep our clients, volunteers and staff safe, we grieve for those who have lost a friend or loved one to COVID, including some who work, volunteer and receive services from CSA.”
“Although we are still a ways out from seeing the end of the pandemic, there are some glimmers of hope,” he continues. “There is still much to do in the future, and we are grateful to our community for partnering with us to provide a safety net for those in need.”