Chesterfield Food Bank in need of Spanish speaking volunteers as demand skyrockets

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Hundreds of Virginia residents in need loaded up their cars Friday with free food at the Chesterfield Food Bank.

The CEO, Kim Hill, told 8News demand there has skyrocketed during the pandemic. There’s a long line of cars on Ironbridge road for hours every Friday when they distribute. Hill added that the food bank is handing out a million meals per month on average during the pandemic. Donations there have tripled. 

Organizers also tell 8News they’re feeding roughly 40 percent more people within the Hispanic community since the pandemic began. Now, they need more Spanish speaking volunteers. On Friday, they called on the group “El Rey de Gloria” to help.

“We are just here to help and support,” Pedro Cruz, a volunteer, said. He invites “all the Hispanic community” to join them on Fridays. “Don’t be afraid if you don’t have documents because we don’t ask for anything,” he said, translating for another colleague. “Every single human being needs the help and that’s what we are here for.”

The increased demand has led to long lines of people waiting for meals. Some people wait more than six hours in a line to get in on Fridays. “I don’t think any of us would be here if we didn’t need to be here,” Inez Yates said. She was second in line after arriving at 11 a.m. on Friday. “The line has been all the way back, almost to Chester sometimes when I leave here,” she said. 

Yates, like many others, has been struggling financially during the pandemic. “I’m making it but there are always some people in worse shape than I’m in,” she said. “I just pray for everybody, you know, regardless of their creed or color.”

Janet Leon has waited in line every other week since her son, the family’s provider, lost his job. “In the beginning, when I came the first time, it was emotional because you see the long lines and you feel sometimes guilty, like should I be in that line too with so many needs in there?” she questioned, “but I’m really grateful.”

Families like those, from near and far, get a little help every Friday. Theresa Twitty says her car load of food helps other families all the way from Petersburg to Amelia. “It’s like 30 people I share the food with,” she said. “They meet me somewhere, I lift up my trunk and they’re like oh my goodness, I’m so excited!”

The food is all stored in the warehouse. On distribution day, much of it is brought outside for better airflow and social distancing. This Friday, more than 38,000 pounds of food was distributed.

To learn more about how you can help, visit: https://www.chesterfieldfoodbank.org/

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