By Sharon McElhone
March 20, 2020 –The COVID-19 virus is considered to be rapidly spreading in Silicon Valley. Local governments, ministers, food banks, and foundations are ramping up efforts to ensure that the county’s most vulnerable in the community have access to food and other essentials. Businesses have been mandated to close and physical distancing is heavily advised for the coming months. The financial impact on local economies, workers, families, and the homeless is expected to be significant. Leaders throughout the region are coordinating efforts to keep food distribution going to the most needy and funds going to help small businesses. Together they have launched Silicon Valley Strong. The online website aims to be a primary resource for Bay Area residents needing assistance or wanting to volunteer and/or donate.
San Jose Mayor, Sam Liccardo, addressed the press on Wednesday, March 18th, to announce the launch of Silicon Valley Strong and to talk about the strategies being adopted to ease the financial fallout from the epidemic. “The current strategy is making sure seniors and medically vulnerable residents get access to food and cities are working collaterally with school districts and schools, many who have stepped up in a very significant way to ensure that youth and families get what they need when they are food insecure.” Another goal is to keep existing food banks that are critical in serving the neediest residents accessible. Food banks have started to transition to curb side pick-up in an order to minimize the spread of the virus. In addition, the county is working with their many partners to identify at least one site in every city that will be the common food distribution site for the city. Other strategies include working with faith partners and Bay Area churches, who serve the needy and collaborating with the Silicon Valley Foundation to create a large fund.
President of the Board of Supervisors, Cindy Chavez, was also joined by Supervisor Dave Cortese and the mayors of Mountain View, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Sunnyvale among others. “All our cities working together are trying to do big things,” Cindy Chavez explained. “One of them is we want to make sure we have our hospitals and clinics fully stocked. We are working on that. We are getting a lot of help from the private sector on that. The other is getting food and nutritious meals to people. I want to encourage people to go to SiliconValleyStrong.org and sign up, especially if you are young and healthy. It is going to make a difference.” According to Cindy Chavez, Meals on Wheels has seen a shortage of drivers, leaving new sheriff cadets to try and fill the shortfall when they are needed for other duties. She continued to add that residents should dial 211, the Santa Clara County resource hotline, and that the county is counting on everyone to help saves lives.
Furthermore, Silicon Valley Strong received a significant contribution from Apple. Michael Foulkes, Director of State, & Local Government Affairs and Political Compliances at Apple said “We feel a profound sense of civic responsibility to make sure we are building a strong sense of community. At the heart of the community are small businesses. We all know places with one or two employees, places we go to get our coffee, baked goods, dry cleaning…It’s a challenging moment. Apple is very proud to be supporting Silicon Valley Strong. “
Leaders are asking anyone able to donate time and money to go to SiliconValleyStrong.org
In closing, Nicole Taylor, President and CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, said “the work that is being done with our partners is just incredible.”
For additional information on what the County of Santa Clara and San Jose are doing to prepare the residents during the pandemic, go to www.SiliconValleyStrong.org.