At approximately 8:50 p.m. Friday, March 20, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez took to Facebook to let citizens know that Governor Gavin Newsom announced the deployment of National Guard troops to three counties for the purposes of safeguarding food banks and their supplies.
“According to the information I’ve received, there are currently between 500-600 guard members ready to deploy to Monterey, Riverside and Sacramento Counties, said Melendez in her social media post. “They will be deployed to these locations because these counties specifically asked for humanitarian relief assistance. Many of the local food banks rely on volunteers that are 65 years and older. With a dramatic reduction in the volunteer population, these Unarmed guards will be deployed to help ensure food security. There is no current plan in place to deploy the guard statewide. I do not have information yet as to where exactly in Riverside they will be located.”
Local reports from KSEQ have confirmed that the California National Guard will be on hand to provide short-term security at food banks that help isolated and vulnerable Californians.
“It’s in these times of crisis that Californians are at their best, coming to the aid of those in their community who are most in need,” Newsom said. “Food banks provide a critical lifeline for families, and are needed now more than ever. Families across our state are suddenly losing work, and millions of Californians most vulnerable to COVID-19 are staying home to protect their health and the health of others. I ask all Californians who are able to join our Neighbor-to-Neighbor campaign to safely assist those in need in your community.”
Gov. Newsom called for more food bank volunteers and launched a “Neighbor-to-Neighbor” campaign with Nextdoor.com and California volunteers that will safely deploy volunteers. The goal of the campaign is to call on neighbors to be first line of support for those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus by helping them get food and supplies. Nextdoor will also allow residents to safely check on their neighbors, family, and friends during this pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant decline in the number of volunteers and impacted logistical and local infrastructure for food distribution. The California Guard will start to deploy personnel and logistical equipment at a food bank distribution warehouse in Sacramento County beginning today. Officials will continue to conduct immediate site assessments statewide for counties that request short-term support and stabilization.
Short-term assistance from the California National Guard will allow time to mobilize AmeriCorps, California Conservation Corps and Local Conservation Corps members, and other volunteers where counties have identified serious gaps.
A resource list will be posted to serve.ca.gov on ways Californians can support vulnerable members of our community that may have limited food resources, in ways that are in line with CDPH guidelines.