When Heather Pierini goes home after a hard day of work, she will often look at one of the walls in her house. On that wall she has posted many pieces of paper with compliments to her, whether it be emails or personal letters to her.
There is a good chance that wall is about to get a little bit bigger.
Pierini, the founder of Food is Free Solano, was one of about a dozen people with the organization giving out 35 pound boxes of food containing milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, vegetables and fruit. Lettuce, onions and other items for making a salad were also distributed.
Along with the stomachs of many in need, Pierini’s wall of compliments should grow in size after the two-hour drive-through event at the Solano County drew hundreds of cars of appreciative families. Prior to the gates opening for the event, cars could be seen down most of Fairgrounds Avenue waiting to get in.
There was 40,000 pounds of food to distribute and she expected it to be all gone by the time the event ended, according to Pierini. Each family got up to two boxes that was put in its vehicle’s trunk.
“It’s sad to see so many people in need today,” Pierini said. “But it makes me feel happy to help out so many people today. It’s the only thing keeping me going during this time. Otherwise it’s depressing, it’s sad and terrifying. Thinking about these people, I mean the Food Bank is tapped out. There is an unprecedented need on par with the Great Depression right now. If we weren’t able to do this and if I wasn’t able to arrange for these trucks to come in, a lot of people would be hurting.
“I’m happy that we’re able to do this right before Christmas and really happy and offer this to our communities,” Pierini continued. “I just wish we could do even more.”
The food for the event comes from the United States Department of Agriculture.
“It’s challenging, but they have provided us with a huge amount of food,” Pierini said. “We’ve delivered 1.2 million pounds of food through the program since June 29.
Despite the rainy weather and temperatures falling into the high 40’s, the event was still able to draw about a dozen volunteers to help out, including Lory Quevedo.
“It feels amazing. There is so much need right now and we’re just doing our part to help out as many families as we can,” Quevedo said. “I joined this group back in June after seeing Heather post something on Facebook back then. I have my own Food is Free Solano stand on Griffin Drive. So I am here every time we have an event.”
People driving through the event and receiving food were encouraged to keep their windows rolled up to stay safe with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but every once in a while a vehicle’s window would come down and offer a compliment. Other drivers may wait until later to send an email.
“That’s wonderful and that makes me feel good,” Pierini said about the compliments. “I actually have a wall in my house by my desk and I tape all these thank you notes we get. So when I get any kind of note I put it up on that wall. It’s very cute and it’s very fun because when things are hard and when it’s hard to figure out the logistics and even wonder if you’re able to fund raise enough to pay for the rent here for this event then that keeps me going.”