OAKLAND (CBS SF/KOVR/AP) — On day two of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unprecedented stay-at-home order to help curb the coronavirus spread, many in Northern California were focusing on the basics and food was a huge priority.
A farmer’s market near Oakland’s Lake Merritt was bustling on a Saturday morning with shoppers waiting in line at a produce stand to buy beets, strawberries and kale. Most stood several feet apart, but the spacing didn’t appear to be enough for one woman who walked by and yelled “6 feet!” to remind everyone the rule for keeping a safe distance.
Some vendors required shoppers to order produce instead of picking them out themselves. One farmer posted a sign that said: “Don’t touch what you won’t buy please.”
“If you’re not wearing rubber gloves and a mask, you shouldn’t be here,” said Jeff Hyde, who had both on while selling smoked fish. He said sales were up at his stand.
“Food is king right now,” he said. “People can’t splurge on going to the movies or dining out, so they’re buying food.”
Across town, Miss Ollie’s Caribbean Restaurant was still offering patrons a sliding scale menu. Chef Sarah Kirnon enacted the ‘pay-as-you-can’ policy, last Wednesday. On Day 2 of the official shelter-in-place she said “folks are coming back for the bush tea and the oxtails.”
Up to 500 National Guard soldiers have been deployed to help with humanitarian aid and food distribution during the crisis. On Saturday, dozens of them were helping the Sacramento Food Bank. The soldiers have been filling in for the volunteers who have been ordered to stay home, boxing up food and making sure it gets out to those in need.
While many have been deployed all over the world – Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Shiroma admits, this is uncharted territory.
“In all my deployments, I’ve done humanitarian efforts in Kosovo, in the former Yugoslavia. I’ve been deployed to Iraq, but what we’re doing here is a first,” said Lt. Shiroma.
The stay at home orders hit food banks hard with a shortage of volunteers – but also considering many of those volunteers are elderly – and it’s critical they stay home.
“We did not expect this many people to be in this situation this quickly,” said Blake Young, CEO of Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. “People are scared, so we want to give them comfort that we’re working hard.”
“It gives you a really good sense of serving your country because our country and the world is in need right now,” adds Shiroma. “And all of us really need to take a step back right now to know that hey, we’re in this together.”