On a sunny, chilly Thursday morning, Ronnie is preparing for the day’s food distribution at a school pantry in Oakland.

She hurries around the playground – carting groceries and hot meals from World Central Kitchen. She checks in with volunteers who are making emergency food bags for children. And, she sets up the distribution tables on the sidewalk.

“Today is super busy,” she says.

Ronnie brings boxes filled with hot meals and groceries from the cafeteria to the distribution.

Cars begin to pull up and Ronnie chats with every person that stops by the distribution.

“It really makes me feel good inside to be able to say, ‘I helped somebody today,’” she says as she waves to a woman pulling up.

Volunteers load cars with groceries and some people walk up with handcarts – like Yvonne.

Yvonne and her children pick up groceries from from the school pantry.

Yvonne greets Ronnie as her children run to play on the playground. Yvonne loads her cart with meals from World Central Kitchen and a box of groceries. “I love the fresh fruits and veggies we get from here,” she says. Elliott and Jordan like the snacks – craisins and sunflower seeds. The food has become a stress-reliever.

Yvonne owns a daycare. Like so many of us, she was forced out of work due to the pandemic. Her husband still works at an insurance company, but the recent transition to a one-income household has been tough.

“The food pantry has been a blessing,” she says. “Things are a lot tighter. For the first time, we’re using programs like the Food Bank to save money.”

A volunteer makes emergency food bags for children – filled with healthy snacks.

Despite challenges caused by the pandemic, Yvonne says she’s thankful she’s able to spend more time with her children, and setting up a daily schedule has helped them stay on track with school. Elliot doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, but his favorite subjects are math, science, and P.E. Jordan wants to be a singer/songwriter and loves art and music.

“I miss going to school and being with my friends, but Zoom is actually kind of fun,” Jordan says.

In the wake of COVID-19, hundreds of business closures and lost jobs have left many of us working harder than ever before. The holidays can be tough – especially on tight budgets. And with need doubling due to the pandemic, this is going to be the Food Bank’s busiest holiday season yet.

Feeling inspired to continue supporting our emergency response? Here’s how you can help:

With every action, we can ensure all of us have access to healthy food this holiday season – and beyond.