FILE — California National Guard members load food supplies into vehicles as part 
of a recent no-contact distribution hosted by the Monterey County Food Bank in King City. (Sean Roney/Staff)

KING CITY — Loaves and Fishes recently donated $10,000 to the Food Bank for Monterey County, passing along donations made to them for local assistance efforts.

“We figured $10,000 was a good donation that will go quite a ways with helping with the food,” said Sharon Hornlein, who directs Loaves and Fishes in King City.

Hornlein said Loaves and Fishes typically spends $5,000 to $6,000 in food per year. When combined with other such expenses as insurance and mailings, the amount adds up to at least $10,000 in a total yearly budget for the King City operation, which normally runs from November to April.

Loaves and Fishes would have begun the Friday before Thanksgiving, taking over right after the end of the April to November operations of the Community Food Pantry of King City.

Both local groups, however, did not begin their usual 2020 season starts due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That has caused the Food Bank for Monterey County to operate countywide, with weekly food distributions in many of South Monterey County’s towns.

Loaves and Fishes also cut its 2019-20 season short by a couple weeks due to the pandemic, Hornlein explained. Since that early season end to make way for the Food Bank to distribute food with the assistance of the National Guard, Loaves and Fishes as well as its volunteers have watched the situation unfold.

“When they stop, we want to start and we don’t know when that might be,” Hornlein said, noting there is a possibility, though unlikely, that local charities would resume food distribution in 2021.

With the county’s Food Bank operating in King City, Hornlein said the choice was clear to pass on some of the generous donations provided to them. Though Loaves and Fishes saw totals of at most 250 families come through for their distributions, the Food Bank has seen upwards of 500 families.

“The numbers are higher now,” Hornlein said.

She added that not only is the pandemic hurting families, but there could also be easier access with the drive-thru format used by the Food Bank, resulting in more families utilizing the service.

If Loaves and Fishes resumes this year, Hornlein said it would operate differently, adopting much of the drive-thru and contactless approach used by the Food Bank.

Food would be pre-bagged, which was a practice they already did, but they would no longer allow people to walk through their facility and the area to look through donated clothing and housewares would no longer be an option.

In addition, Hornlein said such an effort would take volunteers who accepted the risk of working with the public during a pandemic, something she or her volunteers aren’t comfortable with at the moment.

“If they do continue and we aren’t able to, we’ll continue to make donations,” Hornlein said about passing on future funding. “Maybe not as large as this one, but we’ll continue making donations.”

Hornlein said operating Loaves and Fishes has been rewarding and that she missed many aspects of it, from helping people find warm blankets and clothing to giving candy to children who showed up with their parents.

She said people can still donate to Loaves and Fishes as they normally would, as the money will only be used to help the community. That would take the form of either preparing to resume operations or to pass along to the Food Bank for local use.

“It’s going to help these people,” Hornlein said.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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