For five consecutive Saturdays, Ayudando Latinos A Soñar has hosted a drive-thru food pantry in front of the Half Moon Bay Library. It’s available to anyone who needs food assistance, and those who wait in a queue that may be shocking receive a prepackaged supply of not only canned nonperishables but dairy goods such as milk, bread and eggs.
“Pasta, beans, sugar, salt — just the basic stuff that a household needs,” said Joaquin Jimenez, an outreach employee for ALAS.
The pantry was kickstarted several weeks ago when Peninsula Food Runners reached out to Jimenez to deliver food from Trader Joe’s. After giving the food to several local families, ALAS recognized the impact a food pantry could have in light of the problems related to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We saw how grateful they were to get this relatively small bag of food,” said Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, ALAS’s founder and director. “So, we thought we had to keep doing this.”
By the following Saturday, ALAS had met with city of Half Moon Bay officials to set up shop in front of the library. Now, as more people visit, local suppliers are keeping the food flowing. La Mexicana Placita has donated, and the Coastside Farmers Market is offering produce, but the giving doesn’t stop at the library. Hernandez-Arriaga said ALAS wanted to provide an opportunity for those in need to get products they wouldn’t be able to receive from a local food pantry. Mariners Church approached ALAS to offer a helping hand. The church gave ALAS funds to buy gift certificates for local stores, and the nonprofit has given out hundreds of gift cards in recent weeks.
The pop-up pantry has become very popular in recent weeks, with well over 100 cars making their way to the library. Now, the line of cars commonly stretches several blocks from the library’s location on Correas Street to the Cabrillo Unified School District Event Center on Kelly Avenue.
The large demand for goods has been met with ALAS’s eager volunteer force, which is also donating homemade facemasks from an in-house program, the Mamas of ALAS.
“It’s really heartwarming,” Jimenez said of the volunteer effort. “A lot of community members came out. We have high school students, local organizations and parents coming by to volunteer setting up the bags and handing out masks to families in the cars.”