The cars started lining up two hours early. Each one had a driver or a family in need of a break.
“It’s very tough,” said Joe Valdivia.
The retired Chula Vista machinist was sixth in line outside the Loma Verde Recreation Center. There were at least a hundred more vehicles behind his minivan.
Valdivia said his retirement checks are stretched between more mouths because of the pandemic. His daughter lost her job and she and his two grandchildren moved in.
That’s why he waited almost two full hours to get free food through South Bay Community Services.
“The world ought to have more people like them to help us,” said Valdivia gesturing towards volunteers passing out boxes of food.
“We’ve always been busy,” said Andrea Landis, the Director of Communications for SBCS.
Landis said the non-profit has spent decades helping people with jobs, children, money, and food. However, the number of those needing help has grown too fast during the pandemic. Landis said the lines during food distribution are 10-times longer than they were before the pandemic.
“We haven’t had a choice but to activate all together, our partners, ourselves,” she said.
Those partners include the City of Chula Vista. Tuesday night, the City Council approved sending $200,000 in CARES Act money to South Bay Community Services to assist with its food distribution. That allows the non-profit to continue focusing on rental assistance and other programs.
“The list [of programs] just goes on and on and they are a great partner,” said Councilman Mike Diaz, who added that many of his constituents often have to choose between paying a bill or buying groceries.
Landis said the CARES funding helps answer that question for hundreds of people.
“It’s been all hands-on deck,” she said.
It’s a relief for Valdivia who has more mouths to feed during the pandemic.
“For the people to do this for us, is very nice,” he said.
Tuesday night, the Chula Vista City Council also approved $200,000 to assist the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, where Olympic hopefuls train, and $75,000 for the Living Coast Discovery Center, which has remained closed for most of the pandemic.