SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California National Guard surpassed 50 million meals distributed in weight, after approximately 70 days of operation during the COVID-19 humanitarian response.
The Cal Guard has been operating in more than 30 food banks across 20 counties, assisting with the preparation of food packages across the state.
“Reaching 50 million just shows how committed Cal Guard is to serving and assisting citizens and communities of this great state,” said 1st Sgt. Scott Flynn, 132nd Multi-Role Bridge Company non-commissioned officer in charge. Flynn manages more than two dozen troops at the Santa Cruz County Food Bank where several U.S. Army-trained engineers modified their skills to warehouse workers, supporting Cal Guard’s mission.
The food bank support mission has been a combined effort drawing from the California State Guard, the California Conservation Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Cal Guard. As many as 700 Soldiers and Airmen have supported this task.
“Our primary mission is to ramp up our operations to support the entire community and help all those affected by COVID-19,” said Blake Young, president and chief executive officer of the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. “We requested from the National Guard troops to help us break down all the food that we have, package it and be able to get the food out to the distribution sites to feed… families of our county.”
Young added, “Because of COVID-19, we’ve had an increase in need. What we’re trying to do is build the capacity of the network and get them food as quickly as possible. The California National Guard helped us ramp up those operations so people that need food will be able to get it.”
The coronavirus pandemic put many community charities in difficult spots in March. Many adhering to the state’s stay-at-home policy, food bank volunteers stayed home, yet the demand for food assistance didn’t stop. Cal Guard filled the absence of volunteers and have supported food bank missions since March.