Members of the California National Guard will augment a dwindling volunteer workforce at Coachella Valley food banks amid the coronavirus pandemic, county officials said Sunday.

FIND Food Bank, which supports more than 120 feeding sites throughout the desert region, has lost nearly 70% of its volunteers and will be assisted by 25 members of the state National Guard, Riverside University Health System spokesman Jose Arballo said.

Guard members will work alongside FIND employees to pack food bags, load food into trucks and deliver bags of food at mobile food markets, he said.

“California National Guard will not perform any law enforcement activities,” Arballo emphasized.

FIND feeds about 90,000 people each month and the organization expects to ramp up operations due to the economic hardships brought on by the pandemic, according to FIND president and CEO Debbie Espinosa.

“We welcome the National Guard’s assistance with the distribution of food and pitching in for FIND Food Bank, whose senior citizen volunteers are no longer able to come pack food boxes,” Riverside County Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said in a statement. “I want to thank the National Guardswomen and men who do what they have always done, answer the call and report for duty to assist our communities in times of need.”

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