Food banks and pantries across the Bay Area are bracing for what could be one of the worst winters yet due to inflation and the end of pandemic-era benefits.
Nowhere is that more evident than The Father's House Church pantry in Vacaville, where Flor Avando arrived early to wait in line.
"What we're hoping to get here is the basics," she said. "Milk, eggs, bread and maybe some vegetables. "
Avando has been going every Friday, after escaping violence in her native country of Nicaragua.
"The situation there was difficult," she said. "It was hard to get a job. So, we came here to find a better life for the children."
Even though she's working full time, it's been difficult to make ends meet. Whatever money she makes goes to paying rent and bills. Pantries like the TCH help her put food on the table.
"At first, yes, it was a little painful accepting this new reality," she said. "But I'm very grateful to have this."
Pastor Raymond Beaty, who has been running the pantry for 12 years, said every day the lines get longer as more and more people fall through the cracks.
"There's a high percentage of the population that come now who have never come before. They're people who weren't aware of social services because they never needed them before," he said.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano, which stock the pantry, said it's now serving a staggering 465,000 people a month or one in four residents in the area.
"We've seen the need increase month over month and we're expecting that to increase during the holidays as well," Jeremy Crittenden a spokesman for the food bank said.
As they went through the line, Avando and her family were allowed two bags of food per person, which they filled with everything on their list.
"It's a huge blessing," Avando said. "I never imagined I'd be able to find almost everything we needed in one place."
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