A long line of cars waited at Hunger at Home’s headquarters Wednesday morning to receive a family meal and a bag of groceries, which can mean the difference between feeding their families and going hungry.
Hundreds of cars have come each day to the food bank on Berger Drive in San Jose since the coronavirus pandemic pushed local and state leaders to issue a stay at home order that has shuttered businesses and left many out of work. On Wednesday, the organization was expecting more than 500 cars.
“Anybody who’s waited in this line for four hours is hungry,” said Hunger at Home’s CEO Ewell Sterner. “One day we had more than 1,000 cars and we fed every one of them. One lady with kids in the car said they hadn’t eaten for two days. The kids were crying, but after seeing the food, they were so happy.”
Before coronavirus, Hunger at Home worked as a conduit, distributing food from corporate partners like Levi’s Stadium, Fairmont San Jose and San Jose Convention Center to nonprofits like Loaves & Fishes, Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley and HomeFirst.
Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order, Hunger at Home also started feeding furloughed hospitality and entertainment workers from Unite Here Locals 19 and 134. Most of them earned minimum wage from the same companies that had donated excess food to Hunger at Home.
“There were tens of thousands of new food-insecure people that no one was looking out for…people with empty wallets, empty refrigerators and empty stomachs,” said Dinari Brown, Hunger at Home’s COO and former executive chef for the San Francisco 49ers.