Sacred Heart's Thanksgiving food distribution faces challenges with increased demand, fewer volunteers

As Sacred Heart Community Services begins distributing Thanksgiving food this year, they're facing a grim reality.

Due to COVID-19, the need has doubled, with many standing in line for the first time. 

"It's very important because I've been laid off my job. And it's hard to get unemployment right now so it takes up to three weeks. This is a good supplement. It's good food to have when you don't have any," said John Finister in San Jose.

Hundreds here have lost jobs and hundreds more have had their hours cut.

"This year we kinda struggled with the pandemic. I'm only working part time. I have two girls ages 11 and 9 and they're at home doing home schooling. And I'm not able to work as much. So coming out here is really helpful," said Rose Segale of San Jose.

Sacred Heart expects to serve 4,200 families, about 10,000 people over five days. But without more help, that will be a challenge.

A volunteer shortage, seems to be another side effect of COVID-19.

"We're very low on volunteers. We would typically do 100 volunteers on a shift. This year we scaled that way back to 45. But we've only got about 10 signed up right now," said Rachel Wright of Sacred Heart Community Services.

Sacred Heart wants to reassure people that they've been social distancing both during the distribution, and in the warehouse.

"We've been really, really safe. Very careful. And we wouldn't invite you to come if we didn't think you'd be safe and healthy," said Wright.

Those receiving help say they're grateful for the food and for the volunteers, offering a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year.

"I probably wouldn't be able to have a good Thanksgiving if it weren't for these people out here doing this for us," said Segale.

This year's pickup schedule is:

  • November 19 & 23 9 am - 4 pm, Nov 24 9 am - 6 pm  (Walk up) 
  • November 20, 25 9 am - 4 pm (Drive-through only) 

Sacred Heart is still in need of more turkey and ham.