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Sonoma County elected officials roll up their sleeves to help Redwood Empire Food Bank

Critical demand for food for people challenged or devastated by economic fallout of COVID-19 crisis spurred more than 30 elected officials from throughout Sonoma County and one from Mendocino County to give up their Saturday morning.

City council members from every municipality in the county teamed up to sort and package food beneath a tent outside the Redwood Empire Food Bank, north of Santa Rosa. Thirty-four members of city councils and school boards were joined by family members and several former elected officials.

They answered a call for help by the regional food bank, which wrestles with shortages of volunteers as it strives to assure that free food keeps flowing to great numbers families and individuals that struggle to pay bills and keep food on the table amid layoffs and other disruptions brought on by the pandemic.

Rallying the elected officials to the cause was Tony Geraldi, a regular Redwood Empire Food Bank volunteer who works as operations manager for Sonoma County Airport Express, serves on the board of the county fair and is a longtime official and advocate of the Miss Sonoma County scholarship competition.

Aware that the food bank needs more volunteers to sort and package food, he asked elected officials from throughout the county to put in a shift on Saturday morning for the cause.

The 40 work slots were quickly filled. “I had to turn people away,” Geraldi said.

The eagerness by the corps of current and former elected officials and by so many others to step up at a time of crisis touched the heart of David Goodman, chief of the REFB.

“To see our community come together, supporting this dire need, is a wonder to behold,” Goodman said. Among the beneficiaries, he added, are many people who are experiencing food insecurity for the first time.

“Until today, people didn’t need to know us,” Goodman said. “So many people needing assistance right now have never had to ask for help before.”

For information on volunteer opportunities at the Redwood Empire Food Bank, go to refb.org/volunteer-opportunities.

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