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Lt. Gina Noble, Corps Officer at The Salvation Army, is hands-on in providing food assistance for local families. / Laura Austin File Photo

Salvation Army adds new program for food distribution

The Salvation Army Ridgecrest Lt. Gina Noble– The Salvation Army Ridgecrest has received and distributed 457,783 pounds of donated food in the past twelve months.  We have over 1,600 households registered for food assistance.  13,756 households of 35,075 people have been given a box of perishable proteins, dairy, eggs, fruits, vegetables, bread, desserts, and snacks during our three times per week drive-thru food distributions. We began a new distribution for seniors over 70 six months ago. We serve the general community on Tuesdays & Fridays at 12:30 p.m.  This food has been rescued from local food retailers such as Albertsons, Walmart & Grocery Outlet.  There is also a collaboration with the Commissary of NAWSCL, Sierra Sands School District & Starbucks.

Many organizations donate food to help those experiencing food insecurity in Ridgecrest and neighboring communities.  We are grateful for the support of quarterly food drives by the National Association of Letter Carriers, Immanuel Baptist Church & Christian School, Boy Scouts of America, Feds Feed Families, and Grocery Outlet. We also receive donations from organizations such as the United Methodist Church and the Fraternal Order of Eagles, who host local food drives.  We can distribute even more food and welcome your family or organization to host a food drive.

We are partnered with Community Action Partners of Kern (CAPK) to receive Commodities USDA non-perishable food distributed to 1,800 households representing 4,669 people this past year.  Our newest program with CAPK is Farmers Market.  In three months of trial, this fresh-from-the-grower bulk fruits and vegetables program has served 1,309 households of 3,556 people.  The truckload of produce first goes into weekly food boxes, and the remaining monthly selections will be offered on the second Wednesday of each month in a Free Farmers Market outside of the thrift store beginning at 8 a.m.  The public and other community organizations with fresh food pantries are invited to bring their recycled bags and take their fill.

The newest program we are adding to best serve those experiencing food insecurity in Ridgecrest and neighboring communities is “Triple P = People’s Pick Pantry.”  This program aims to provide Food for Families in addition to weekly fresh food box distributions.  The new pantry will serve pre-registered households of 4 or more who have two or more school-aged children.  It is stocked with convenience food from community food drives and offers families a choice of food from each category.  Teens and youth helped select the product mix, and many of the foods can be prepared by kids.  There is also a section for household paper products, cleaning, and hygiene items.  Families can register with us, come by appointment once a month on Thursdays, and leave the pantry with a cart full of groceries.