Nevada County food pantries move to drive-thru model |

Nevada County food pantries move to drive-thru model

Interfaith Food Ministry held its first drive-thru food distribution on Wednesday.
Courtesy Interfaith Food Ministry

Know & Go

Interfaith Food Ministry: Open to distribute food 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 440 Henderson St. in Grass Valley (to the left of the Prosperity Lanes Bowling Alley and the Beam Easy Living Center). For information, go to or call 530-273-8132

The Food Bank of Nevada County: Drive-thru food distribution at Grass Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church, 12889 Osborne Hill Road, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Thursday. For more information, call 530-272-3796 or go to

Bad weather and fears over the coronavirus couldn’t stop Wednesday’s food distribution at Interfaith Food Ministry.

The inaugural outdoor drive-thru for the food pantry went very well, said Executive Director Phil Alonso.

“It was a little bit chaotic at first, setting it up, but it quickly got into a smooth rhythm,” Alonso said. “Our clients were patient and appreciative.”

Clients stay in their cars, get checked in the order they arrive and then are given food directly into their cars. Walk-ins will be accommodated, but will be asked to wait outside.

Alonso said the ministry was down about half of its volunteers, most of whom are seniors.

“Some understandably decided to stay home, to decrease their risk,” he said. “A family did come in with some teenagers who are out of school. They all came in to help out. But we definitely need to put a call out for additional volunteers if possible.”

Interfaith Food Ministry plans to continue its regular distribution days from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“You don’t need to call ahead, you can just show up Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 8 and 2,” Alonso said of volunteers. “You don’t need to stay the whole time. If you can only help out for an hour or two, that’s fine.”

Potential volunteers who want less interaction with the public can help pack and sort food on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7 to 11 a.m., Alonso added.

“We have an official application process, but we are in emergency mode right now,” he said, “We’re just slapping name tags and gloves on them and putting them to work.”

According to Alonso, the next highest need is for donations.

“We appreciate donated food, but monetary donations are preferred,” he said, explaining that a fund-matching campaign is ongoing through March so that all contributions will be doubled.

The weather and concerns over exposure risks had lowered the number of clients recently — but Alonso said the food pantry saw a number of brand new clients Wednesday, some of whom had recently been laid off or were families struggling after the closure of the county’s schools.

The amount of food provided depends on family size, he said. Each family can come to one distribution every two weeks. New clients are asked to bring a photo ID and a proof of address. Clients who are making the decision to stay home due to high risk reasons can send a pick-up person to get their groceries for them, with a signed note.

The Food Bank of Nevada County, which typically hosts distributions throughout Nevada County each month, is holding a drive-thru distribution at Grass Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church, 12889 Osborne Hill Road, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Thursday.

“We will be distributing pre-bagged shelf stable foods,” the food bank wrote on its website. “As we continue to monitor the situation, food distribution may be modified week to week.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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