'This is devastating': Families in need line up to receive groceries shocks Monument Crisis Center in Concord amid COVID-19 crisis

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Workers at Monument Crisis center in Concord were stunned Friday morning by the extremely long line of people at the agency's emergency food distribution event.

"My heart breaks for these people. Really. For everybody. Everybody going through this. This is devastating. People who were clients before are now in further need and people who didn't need us before now need us too," said Executive Director Sandra Scherer.

She says the number of people who need help tripled when the first shelter in place order was issued in response to the corona virus pandemic. When that order was extended to May, she braced for even more people. But she couldn't prepare herself for Friday's line. They started handing out bags of food at 9:00am. By 11:00am, they were out of cereal and low on other pantry essentials.

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"We need food. We need donations of non-perishable food. Anytime we are doing a food distribution you can drop it at the gate. It is really safe," she said. The next emergency distribution is Monday at 9:00am.

Stephen Hassett is the rector at St. Stephen's church in Orinda. He dropped off donations Friday morning from his congregation. We asked him what the response has been like from his church.

"Good. But not good enough. We need more," he said as he surveyed the line of people, which he called 'heartbreaking'.

They have barrels inside their church for collecting donations and he says the doors are unlocked.

"Every chance we get, we bring the food and drop it off here at the entry way. We are trying to concentrate on things they need the most like cereal, peanut butter, canned beans, bags of rice and pasta," he said.

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Scherer remembers the recession of 2008 and says this doesn't even come close to comparing.

"The recession feels like a picnic now when I look back," she said with tears in her eyes.

Non-profits are not only trying to help people with their needs, they also have the added challenge of keeping people safe from corona virus.

"Because of the health concerns, it makes it so much more limiting," she said.

Monument has sent home all volunteers out of concern for their health. The agency's staff of 10 is handling the demand.

"With the amount of people who have lost their jobs, people need to be able to rely on places like Monument Crisis Center to get the help they need," she said.

She says food and money donations are desperately needed. You can learn how to help here.

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