NAACP and Sonoma County Black Forum volunteers load 413 cars during Saturday food drive associated with vaccination clinic

Even as masks wear off and the county’s coronavirus count remains low, dozens of volunteers gathered at Santa Rosa High School on Saturday to help low-income Sonoma County residents in their ongoing fight against the virus and its impacts. economic.

Rallyed by the Sonoma County Black Forum, the local branch of the NAACP, and the Sonoma State University Black Student Union, more than 40 black volunteers loaded passing cars with boxes of food including eggs and milk. Clover Sonoma butter, organic chicken and spaghetti as well as other fresh foods, blankets and personal hygiene supplies. The boxes also contained health kits with hand sanitizer, masks and home COVID-19 test kits.

Turnout at the event seems to indicate that the need remains high for such help, even as virus cases remain low and health orders have largely been lifted.

In two hours, the group loaded 413 cars with supplies, according to Nzinga Woods, co-founder of the Sonoma County Black Forum, which sponsored the event with the NAACP.

Although COVID-19 no longer has the stranglehold on economic and social life it once had, high inflation, supply chain issues and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions resulting economic conditions fuel financial headwinds. Gas prices in particular are at record highs.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” Woods said.

For many of those driving through the volunteer line on Saturday, “it’s like ‘am I going to buy gas or buy food? “, She said.

Layla Morgan, 15, volunteered with her brother and mother. “I didn’t think so many people would come,” she said, “but it’s good that they did.”

Necessary food and personal items weren’t the only bonuses offered during the event.

To dig even deeper into the approximately 19% of Sonoma County residents who have not been vaccinated, the Jewish Community Free Clinic, in partnership with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, has also set up an immunization clinic at the school. The volunteers asked the occupants of the departing cars if they had been vaccinated or had received the last booster dose, and suggested free injections of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines if not. Vaccinated received $25 gift cards.

At least a trickle of people accepted the offer throughout the morning. Several families had come to be vaccinated around 11 a.m., clinic director Deborah Roberts said.

While vaccination clinics often want customers these days, given high vaccination rates and diminishing concerns about the virus, each shot is one more resident of better-protected Sonoma County, Roberts said.

“We are working hard for that extra 19%,” she said.

The vaccination clinic has partnered with the food drive to target low-income county residents who have sometimes been hard to reach, Roberts said.

“We’re trying to be a bit more creative and expand our access now that demand (for snaps) has dropped,” she said.

The food drive and vaccination clinic will return to the high school on May 28, again beginning at 10 a.m.

You can reach editor Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or [email protected] On Twitter @AndrewGraham88.

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