By Pamela Dozois

Los Alamos is a community that thrives by caring for one another in good times and bad. That much was evident April 4 when the Los Alamos Foundation sponsored the first Emergency Food Pantry at the Los Alamos Valley Senior Center. 

The Emergency Food Pantry is a by-product of that community spirit. While it operates under the banner of The Los Alamos Foundation, it really represents a much broader coalition of service providers and neighbors. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County will be making weekly deliveries for the foreseeable future. These drop-offs are supplemental to the bi-weekly food distribution sponsored by People Helping People. Veggie Rescue, a nonprofit that gleans fresh produce from local farms and vegetable distributors, has been making produce deliveries two to three times a week. To keep everything fresh they have donated the use of their one of a kind solar-cooled trailer.

Volunteers, spearheaded by Debra and Brad Vidro, made sure all the tables were neatly filled with all the available food, and bags ready to be filled quickly so as not to keep the people outside waiting for too long.
Photo by Laura Beas-Diaz

Debra and Brad Vidro are spearheading the food drive and the pantry. Debra Vidro wanted to do something to help and she graciously accepted the role of Pantry Lead. Volunteers who also helped with the Emergency Food Pantry distribution are program assistant Laura Beas-Diaz, Yasmin Alvarado, Janet Olivera, Leida Torres, Manuel Ante, Alex Ante, Gloria Castaneda, Carole Bloom, Peter Diffenderfer and Martin Diaz. They served 67 families in a two-hour period.

“Many families in Los Alamos struggle in the best of times to put meals on the table and to meet the nutritional needs of growing children or aging parents and grandparents,” said Monna Dingman, executive director and trustee of The Los Alamos Foundation. “In fact, U.S. Census Bureau data from 2017 (the most recent available data) shows that 38 percent of Los Alamos children 18 and younger live below the poverty level.”

These are the children of agriculture and service industry workers. In many of these families both parents work and still find it difficult to put meals on the table. The current coronavirus pandemic has left too many without even these low paying jobs. 

In addition to families with children, many Los Alamos seniors live on fixed incomes that are stretched every month to meet essential needs like rent, medications, dietary supplements and nutritious meals. Trips into town for necessary medical appointments, prescriptions and groceries are an added health risk for seniors, not to mention more time-consuming and frustrating than before with longer lines and empty store shelves.

The Los Alamos Foundation expects to continue the Food Pantry for the next couple of months at least. The pantry will be open on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Los Alamos Valley Senior Center unless otherwise announced. The Foundation also accepts cash donations for the purchase of needed items. Seniors in need of food outside of pantry hours should call 211. Those calls will be directed to the Los Alamos Foundation and the Foundation will deliver a bag to your doorstep. Families and non-seniors should call Laura Beas-Diaz at 805-714-2390. 

The Los Alamos Foundation has also partnered with the Buellton Senior Center to bring Meals on Wheels to Los Alamos. Interested seniors should contact Beas-Diaz at 805-714-2390 or