National Guard Lends Helping Hand At San Jose Food Bank

On March 17, when much of the Bay Area sheltered in place for the first day due to the coronavirus pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he would be putting the state’s National Guard on alert to aid in humanitarian efforts and food supply distribution.

Dozens of National Guard members arrived at the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose on Tuesday.

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley helps feed hundreds of thousands in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, but since the outbreak began, they’ve been desperately short on volunteers.

Troops are being assigned to check the produce, package the food and help the food bank with logistics support.

Lt. Connor McGarry is with the 115th Regional Support Group, and like many of the others helping out, he’s also a Bay Area resident, so this region’s crisis hits close to home.

He said that for the troops ability to help put food on people’s tables is why they joined, calling it “very impactful work.”

California National Guard Lend a Hand at Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose During Coronavirus Shelter in Place
Keith Menconi/ KCBS Radio

“This is obviously why I joined the army and the California National Guard, is to help my local community,” McGarry told KCBS Radio.

McGarry and his fellow guards members will be helping out at the Second Harvest warehouse eight hours a day, five days per week for the foreseeable future. 

“They’re currently at 50% of their volunteer work force,” Lt. McGarry said. “So we’re hoping to make sure that while their work force is down, their productivity and their output is still up.”

Second Harvest CEO Leslie Bacho said she is grateful for the extra help. 

“Our own staff are quite exhausted, as we’ve been working so hard the past couple of weeks to help meet the demand,” Bacho said.