The City of Palmdale’s South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES) received a much-needed donation of a heavy-duty tent to aid its food distribution process from Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI), a Zurich, Switzerland based environmental services and engineering firm.
With COVID-19 protocols forcing a change in food distribution from walk-in pick up to drive through, and the increased demand due to the economic downturn, SAVES staff set up three small “EZ Up” style tents outside to shelter the staff and volunteers loading food in and out of the facility and into waiting cars. But the huge increase in demand at the drive-through has also made it more difficult for SAVES predominantly volunteer staff to safely and effectively receive a constant flow of deliveries from local partners such as Target, Walmart, Trader Joe's, Food4Less as well as distributing to individuals. Simultaneously, the need for additional protection from the elements has been growing as the operation expands outdoors.
"Before COVID-19, we would have 70 to 150 food orders a day in a seven-hour workday,” said SAVES Coordinator Patricia Morales. “Today that number has swelled to 187 to 280 food orders in a 3-hour drive-through distribution—serving over 3,000 families a week. The line can stretch three to five blocks long."
Earlier this year, Morales and HZI made a connection. Representatives from HZI were very impressed with SAVES’ ability to re-purpose food that could easily have gone to waste. So, when the need for adequate covering was revealed, HZI stepped up to the plate and donated the covering immediately.
"We are proud to partner with SAVES, a truly exceptional organization providing much-needed relief to local citizens – especially during these difficult times," said HZI CEO Bruno Baudouin. "We look forward to supporting SAVES further and to receiving and re-purposing any new food at the new AD facility. It is great to see the world working together like this and, at the same time, create new opportunities to put waste to its most productive use."
HZI is building an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in the AV, which will convert food and yard waste into green energy and nutrient-rich compost. State law (CA SB1383) requires municipalities to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill by 75% by 2024 or face stiff penalties. The AD plant is supported by a grant from CalRecycle, devoted to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
SAVES provides a practical and caring approach to serving people in need. The SAVES program was started by the City of Palmdale in 1983 to assist individuals and families who are experiencing a temporary emergency situation. The day-to-day operations of SAVES and staffing are funded by the City of Palmdale through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). Food is provided through a collaboration with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, federal programs, and the daily contributions of local markets, stores and restaurants.