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Citrus Heights food closet expects new spike in demand amid economic uncertainty

By Mike Hazlip–
Sunrise Christian Food Ministry, a local food closet in Citrus Heights, has seen a sharp increase in demand since the beginning of the coronavirus stay-at-home orders in March.

Rocky Peterson, director of food ministry, told The Sentinel in an email this week that demand spiked to a record high in April and then tapered off somewhat in the following months, but he anticipates another spike.

“We are expecting August and September to be jumping greatly,” said Peterson. “Impact to people from the reduction of extra unemployment benefits, changes in food stamp qualifications, further business closing, and school unknowns are going to be driving food insecurity throughout the area.”

In April, the food closet reported serving 6,116 people, compared with just under 4,000 during the same month last year. Demand is now hovering above the 5,000 mark.

“Very interesting to see all the new people coming in for assistance,” the director said. “Both young and old people who have never needed help before.”

A number of churches and community organizations have come alongside Sunrise Christian Food Ministry to help with the increase in demand by holding food drives. Peterson said Fair Oaks Presbyterian, Stock Ranch Community Garden, Fair Oaks Community Garden, and Bayside Citrus Heights have all contributed to the food bank in the recent months. There have been a number of individuals who have also contributed, according to Peterson.

As the need to distribute food increased, the food bank saw a decrease in volunteers as at-risk seniors, the backbone of the volunteer effort, have had to stay home. Peterson said churches and a volunteer agency have provided workers to fill in during the increased demand.

“We are very thankful for all the food and finances that are being donated,” Peterson said. “People really have a big heart and want to help.”

An upcoming food drive for nonperishable items will be held at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church this Saturday, Aug. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon. Items donated will be given to the Sunrise Christian Food Ministry.

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