Volunteer Jenna Yamada hands a box of shelf-stable groceries to a senior during a food distribution at Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute on Wednesday. (Photos by MARIO GERSHOM REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

GARDENA — Cars lined up early to receive free food boxes for senior citizens on Wednesday morning at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute.

The food distribution was held in conjunction with L.A. Food Bank in the GVJCI parking lot.

Due to social distancing protocols, seniors remained in their cars as volunteers wearing masks and gloves handed out boxes of shelf-stable food items. Volunteers also delivered boxes to seniors residing in the JCI Gardens who are sheltering in place.

Two hundred boxes were given to seniors and well before 10 a.m., the boxes were all distributed. People continued to stop by to ask if there was more available.

Volunteers distributed 200 boxes of food.

Stephanie Mayeda, GVJCI program manager, said the distribution went well. She had a team of nine volunteers helping the effort. The Food Bank distribution will continue on the first Wednesday of every month through June.

“It’s a hard time for everyone, if we can help in any way,” Mayeda said.

She said GVJCI is always looking for volunteers to help with the senior check-in program and that it is offering many ways to engage through social media.

Jenna Yamada, a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was among the volunteers. She is currently sheltering in place with her family as the campus has shut down. She said many of the seniors were appreciative for the food donations.

“It’s scary times. Nice to see them smiling,” Yamada said.


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