SAN BENITO — Lines waited as usual outside the San Benito Food Pantry. Those in masks were not aware of the treat for the day.
The pantry, in partnership with Molina Healthcare and Farmlink Projects, distributed two gallons of milk per household starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
The partnership between these organizations will continue for the remainder of the year.
Forest Walker, president of the San Benito Food Pantry, has been working at the pantry for 12 years, although the organization has helped the community for 35 years.
“This just started, but we are going to do it all the way through December so far maybe longer,” she said.
Every Wednesday, the pantry is open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and according to Walker, it serves 5,000 to 6,000 people a month.
Those wanting to receive food are required to bring an ID and proof of residence.
Walker said on Wednesday 500 people were expected to attend.
“We survive on donations only, and people willing to give a monetary donation — it is very important to keep these pantries running,” Walker said.
A few changes have been made due to COVID-19, such as different sign-in sheets and face masks being worn, but nothing too drastic.
“If people need food, I want them to come to us,” Walker said.
Juan Rivera, Community Engagement Coordinator for Molina Healthcare, said the purpose of the partnership is to provide milk to pantries that needed it and chose San Benito.
Over the next six months, 50,000 gallons of milk are expected to be distributed.
“We are very grateful to partner up together and create a meaningful event for the community so it stays nourished,” Rivera said.
Moises Ramirez, 58, a San Benito resident, has been attending the pantry for two years.
He said he was grateful for the pantry and visits once a month.
His household is of two and he has seen the repercussions of unemployment due to coronavirus.
“This really helps, and I am really glad it is here open and there are a lot of people in need,” he said.
“Anything we get is a blessing right now,” Ramirez said.