SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Dozens of California National Guard soldiers were at the Sacramento Food Bank boxing up food and making sure it gets out to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s not your usual military uniform. Aside from the camouflage, some have masks and gloves. But the mission is the same.
“We’re here to really support our public, trying to get these canned goods out to those who need it most,” Jonathan Shiroma, of the National Guard, said.
While many have been deployed all over the world 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,” Shiroma said.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced the activation last night to help distribute food at food banks with this first operation kicking off in Sacramento. Of course, these are soldiers who’ve been deployed around the world and yet they’ve never seen anything like this.
The stay at home orders hit food banks hard with a shortage of volunteers, but also since 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,” Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services CEO Blake Young said. “People are scared. So we want to give them comfort that we’re working hard.”
This initial activation is about four to five hundred soldiers.
“It gives you a really good sense of serving your country because our country and the world is in need right now,” Shiroma said. “And all of us really need to take a step back right now to know that hey, we’re in this together.”
The National Guard has also been offering medical support to passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship and there’s no end date – they tell us they’re in this for as long as it takes.