By Shrida Pandey, Online News Editor
// As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic progresses into April, the unemployment rate in the United States continues to skyrocket. With five percent of people now unemployed in California, food banks need supplies more than ever.
Acalanes High School joined the other Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) schools on April 20 in a program to help combat the food shortages at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano by donating more canned food.
Originally inspired by the Campolindo Parent Club (CPC), parent clubs across the district worked together to create the program in order to help the food bank.
“The food bank effort came to Acalanes Parents Club via CPC. They envisioned a joint drive between all four AUHSD schools. We have collectively already raised over 5 thousand dollars and donated thousands of pounds of canned goods in the first four days of the campaign,” Acalanes Parents Club Co-President Sarah Cusumano said.
To show their support, AUHSD schools placed food bins on their campuses for families to donate cans and other necessities for people in need while still following social distancing guidelines.
“With the chaos right now and shortages in stores, it just feels important to help any way we can. We donated a couple of cans of green beans, carton almond milk, and some chili,” junior Madison Payne said.
Some Acalanes students found the food drive to be a way for the schools in the district to join together to help those in need.
“I think that it’s a great way for the communities of the four schools to unite over the shared cause of helping those who are less fortunate in our area to get a meal,” Associated Student Body Secretary and senior Anna McCarthy said.
In addition to collecting canned food and nonperishable items, Acalanes urged families to make monetary donations to the Food Bank’s virtual drive via the AUHSD Food Drive team page. With over 70 donors and $10,500 raised as of April 27, AUHSD is part of the top three teams donating to the virtual food drive, along with Diablo Cares and Marathon Martinez Refinery Team.
According to the Food Bank’s Food Drive Administer Neil Zarchin, however, the Food Bank continues to struggle with the 30 to 50 percent increase of clients at distributions for food.
“We are still looking at a shortfall. Nonperishable food donations are down by a large percentage. Many businesses that collect food for the Food Bank are closed. The annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive has been postponed indefinitely. This is a food drive each May that brings in over 200 thousand pounds of food in one day. That will be a hard loss for us to recover,” Zarchin said.
To help the Food Bank as it continues to support the community during the pandemic, Zarchin encourages the community to make donations online and at local drives.
“People who wish to support the Food Bank can contribute food donations at local food drives such as the current one at all four AUHSD campuses. They can also contribute to the AUHSD Food Drive under Virtual Food Drives at foodbankccs.org,” Zarchin said.