Catholic Charities Steps Up in Unprecedented Crisis
On March 12, 2020, the pandemic was beginning to pick up steam in the San Diego region and beyond. Health authorities had begun to shut down one sector after another.
“What can we do?” Bishop Robert McElroy asked the executive director of Catholic Charities, “Vino” Pajanor.
The agency mobilized, building on contacts its staff had already developed at parishes.
It launched the Emergency Food Distribution Network on April 6, just 18 days after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all but essential workers to stay at home to slow the virus.
The network was initially composed of 21 parishes in San Diego and Imperial counties that distributed food to low-income families and homebound individuals from parishes.
Volunteers handed out packages of non-perishable food items to people in their cars who drove-through. They also delivered them to the doorstep of those unable to leave their homes.
In the first week of the distribution, the parishes served a total of 2,500 households. The next week, they served about 5,000, with that number surging to 10,000 by the fourth week.