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Citrus Heights food ministry hosting donation drive to boost low supplies

Sunrise Christian Food Ministry is located behind Advent Lutheran Church in Citrus Heights, at 5901 San Juan Ave. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report–
The Sunrise Christian Food Ministry is putting out an urgent call for food donations, as the nonprofit struggles to keep up with a significant increase in families requesting emergency food assistance.

The ministry is hosting a two-hour drive-thru food drive in the parking lot of Advent Lutheran Church at 5901 San Juan Ave., this Saturday, March 28, from 10 a.m. to noon.

“Please help your neighbors who are struggling and out of work and give what you can,” the ministry posted on their Facebook page on Tuesday. “Even a little bit will help.”

Items requested include canned meats like tuna and chicken, as well as peanut butter, fresh produce, toiletries and canned fruits, vegetables, and soups.

Rocky Peterson, director of the local food closet, told The Sentinel he’s seen a “significant increase in demand for food for hurting families” recently, with nearly twice the number of families coming each day for supplies. He said an average day used to see 75-80 families served, while that has now increased to 120-130 families.

Dustin DeVriend, an associate pastor at Christ Community Church who partners with the food closet to help with volunteers and supplies, said he expects demand to continue to increase, as more people are laid off or have their hours cut during shelter-in-place orders.

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DeVriend said the local food closet is low on supplies due not only to increased demand from those in need, but also from store shelves being empty — which has resulted in less left-over foods being donated by grocery stores to the food closet. He also said the ministry has had its orders for pallets of canned and dry goods not be fulfilled, due to suppliers being out of stock.

Volunteers are also being sought, as many of those who regularly volunteer are over age 65 and not able to assist due to heightened health risks associated with the coronavirus. A list of volunteer opportunities is posted on the ministry’s website, including pickup of surplus items from various grocery stores and staffing opportunities for distribution.

The food closet’s posted hours are 11:30 a.m to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, but Peterson said the closet has now been opening around 10 a.m. to keep up with demand.

Peterson said Sunrise Christian Food Ministry is open to those in need anywhere in Sacramento County. He said recipients are asked for a picture ID and a current piece of mail for demographic purposes.

According to the ministry’s website, Sunrise Christian Food Ministry was founded in 1983 and is an ecumenical effort supported by several dozen churches, organizations and individuals. The organization’s mission is “to provide five days of nutritionally balanced food supplies to each person every 30 days when an emergency occurs.”

The food closet is located behind Advent Lutheran Church, at 5901 San Juan Ave. Additional information is posted at sunrisechristianfoodministry.org.

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