Joey’s Food Locker Feeds Natomas Amid COVID-19

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Members of The Crossing Church and Natomas Youth Soccer League delivered, unpacked and sorted more than 100 boxes of food and bottled water Thursday to help restock Joey’s Food Locker in Natomas.

The two community organizations teamed up to hold a drive-thru food drive last weekend. The goal: to ensure those in need in Natomas have access to safe, nutritious food in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past two months, the number of people going to the free food locker located at Natomas High School has more than doubled. During the pandemic, Joey’s Food Locker has been open 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every Friday to serve families and senior citizens who need assistance. (It’s typically only open twice monthly.)

Since March 13, the locker has served more than 2,000 people, according to Natomas High teacher Joel Schwieger, who also coordinates food locker operations at the school. The food locker will remain open weekly until further notice, he said.

“It’s been a good thing. A lot of food lockers have closed because they are at churches and churches have been told by the CDC to close,” Schwieger said. “We are more than happy to help.”

Fred Hammer, an executive pastor at The Crossing Church, said the congregation had been collecting food leading up to Love Natomas, an annual community serve day which had been set for May 2 but was postponed because of the statewide stay-at-home order. The soccer league, for which Hammer also volunteers, also wanted to give back to the community. In addition to non-perishable food, nearly $500 was donated during the food drive and will be used to buy paper bags — the food locker uses about 600 a week.

In addition to food and monetary donations, Joey’s Food Locker also receives food from the Sacramento Food Bank to distribute, said Schwieger.

Each week, Joey’s Food Locker provides families and seniors with enough groceries to prepare three meals a day for three days, said Natomas High teacher Kim Taxara.

“It is not always the same, but we try to make it as close as we can,” said Taxara.

Joey’s Food Locker is typically staffed by students in the Natomas Unified School Districts’ Adult Transition Program. Young adults ages 18 to 22, who have developmental disabilities, learn skills for independent living and getting a job in the program.

During school closures, Schwieger said, the food locker has been staffed by himself, Taxara, other teachers and school administrators who volunteer.

For more information about Joey’s Food Locker, call (530) 312-9799.

Joey’s Food Locker needs:

Easy-to-make non-perishable foods such as macaroni and cheese, canned fruit, cereals and canned tuna.

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