Outside of CityServe on Tuesday, a line of trucks and cars stretched as far as the eye could see.
Every car there represented a different church in Kern County with the mission to pick up food for its respective community.
Churches under CityServe will distribute fresh produce, meat and dairy to families dealing with food insecurity. The churches will be used as distribution points, where thousands of food boxes will be delivered and given to members of their communities. This is possible because of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
On April 17, the USDA announced the program to help farmers, ranchers and consumers impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. On May 8, some $1.2 billion in contracts to supply meat, produce and dairy to food banks, nonprofit and faith-based organizations was approved by the USDA. According to the USDA website, the program will purchase $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in dairy products, $258 million in meat and $175 million in combination boxes with a mixture of the three.
CityServe hands the food boxes to the different churches and they will provide the food to their communities, said Crissy Cochran, public relations director for CityServe.
"We're supplying to empower and equip the churches," Cochran said. "The churches have an understanding of their communities."
“There is so much more than food given away when the local church gets involved. It’s a network of caring people,” CityServe Executive Director Karl Hargestam said in a press release. “We are excited to assist and facilitate the last mile from farmer to family, across the country.”
CityServe has 120 churches for which it serves as a hub, said Robin Robinson, who oversees community development for CityServe. Every denomination is accepted into the networking organization.
"We're nine weeks into COVID-19 and it's amplified that need for community," Robinson said. "This is a miracle to see. We want this kind of community support long after the pandemic ends."
For churches hoping to join CityServe, contact Robinson at 661-632-6478 or visit cityservesocal.com/bakersfield for more information.