The St. John’s Food Pantry has recently experienced a surge in activity, serving an unparalleled number of groceries to community members in need.
The Food Pantry is a part of St. John’s Hospitals’ Health Ministries program, and serves bags of groceries to community members who may otherwise go without. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food Pantry saw a relatively unfluctuating and consistent consumer base.
Recently, the St. John’s Food Pantry has encountered a high demand for its services. In April, new enrollment increased by 73% compared to this time last year. The Food Pantry served 2,366 discrete individuals in March, an increase of 32% from 2019. In April, when the Food Pantry was open for only three weeks, 2,621 individuals were served throughout the month, many of them returning for more. Despite its brief closure and reduced hours, the Food Pantry still saw an increase in demand in April, serving 8% more people than in April 2019.
“With the current stay-at-home order and the rise in unemployment rates, it has proven challenging for many of our families to provide additional nourishment for their children,” says Lydia Kreil, Manager of Community Health at St. John’s Regional Medical Center. “We are seeing more people than ever needing our services, and we want to continue providing nutritious food to our community during this critical time.”
As many as 30 food banks in the county are currently closed. St. John’s Food Pantry staff has overcome challenges like restrictions on food purchases, evolving health and safety guidelines, and a large increase in consumers in order to keep the Food Pantry open. They have been able to remain a stable source for the community by maintaining their relationships with food vendors, implementing new social distancing protocols, and notably through the generous support of many local businesses that have donated food and resources.
“Our ministry reaches far beyond health care—we are here to serve and advocate for our community,” says Darren Lee, President and CEO of St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital. “We strive to provide essential support that our community needs, and we are proud to be of assistance during these unprecedented times.”
The St. John’s Food Pantry is located at 535 Cooper Road in Oxnard adjacent to Christ the King Church. It currently operates Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. The pantry was founded by Sister of Mercy, Sr. Carmen Rodriguez in 1985 and since then, has become an essential part of St. John’s Hospitals’ community outreach.
For more information on how to support the St. John’s Food Pantry, please call (805) 988-2868.
About Dignity Health St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital and St. John’s Regional Medical Center
St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo and St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard are members of Dignity Health Central Coast, an integrated network of top quality hospitals, with physicians from the most prestigious medical schools, and comprehensive outpatient services – all recognized for quality, safety and service. Both hospitals are supported by an active philanthropic Foundation to help meet the growing health care needs of our communities. Hospitals in the Dignity Health Central Coast region also include Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria. Learn more at DignityHealth.org/StJohnsRegional and DignityHealth.org/PleasantValley.