About 30 volunteers — average age of 70 — distribute paper bags filled with nutritious groceries every Tuesday at the Mountain View Senior Center through the Second Harvest Food Bank Brown Bag program.
Amid a jumble of potato sacks, boxes of bread, fresh bell peppers and piles of papayas, senior volunteers of diverse backgrounds clamor in Russian, Chinese, Spanish, English and Korean, as they work together to ensure that the roughly 400 people who line up outside the building get served. Many have been doing it for decades, but as they age, site chair Jin Kaku says she fears the volunteer force will wane.
Recent cuts to government food assistance program CalFresh — also known as the food stamp program — puts about four million Californians who depend on the program in a bind. At a time when nearly 100,000 Santa Clara County residents don’t know how they’ll get their next meal, services such as the nonprofit brown bag program are even more essential.
In the video above, meet 77-year-old Al Cardona of Mountain View, who has made volunteering a weekly habit.