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These groups are helping feed 500 'struggling' Richmond-area families: 'It’s very personal'

'We’ve only seen our numbers increasing'
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Posted at 4:55 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 17:42:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The threat of storms on Thursday couldn’t stop a half-dozen non-profits from teaming up to hand out food and basic necessities to Richmond families in need.

The Sacred Heart Center on Perry Street on the city’s Southside transformed into a makeshift Henry Ford assembly line Thursday morning.

Diversity Richmond’s community outreach coordinator Raul Cantu choreographed the operation organizing volunteers to unload boxes of food, stuff bags and fill car trunks.

“It’s very personal to me because at one time I was on the other side,” Cantu recalled. “I grew up with grandparents that were migrant workers and sometimes between jobs and they weren’t able to afford food, so I relate to what these people are going through.”

Raul Cantu
Raul Cantu

The LGBTQ+ non-profit partnered with Feed More, Kroger, Diaz Foods, Latinos En Virginia, The Laughing Gull Foundation, Maggie Walker Governor’s School and Sylvia’s Sisters to distribute fresh vegetables, produce, milk, meats, and personal care products.

The volunteers aimed to serve more than 500 families while distributing 15 tons of food and supplies over two days.

“We’ve only seen our numbers increasing in the last few weeks and couple months,” said Tanya Gonzales, Sacred Heart Center's executive director. “There are still a lot of families that are struggling."

Some of the families who sought help do not speak English. Others are undocumented and do not have access to a bank account. Those families don’t receive a stimulus yet still are required to pay utility bills and rents during the pandemic.

Tanya Gonzales
Tanya Gonzales

According to Feeding America, one in 12 white people is food insecure. But minorities are hit hardest.

Fifteen-percent of Latinos struggle to feed themselves in America. That number grows to nearly 20 percent of black families who often go hungry.

Feed More sought to reach deeper in communities that need the food the most, said Cantu. He recounted one young mother who rode the bus from Hull Street with her baby to get food and supplies.

“One of our volunteers volunteered to take her home and we loaded up her car with a lot of food,” Cantu explained.

The organizations also planned to distribute food and supplies to families in the Chester community on Friday.

“Diversity Richmond knows that this pandemic has hurt so many families in our area on so many levels,” said Bill Harrison, Diversity Richmond executive director. “We are thrilled that we can bring so many wonderful partners together to provide food and other necessities to support people and families in our community. And we plan to keep doing this for as long as we need to.”

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