Home / Travel / On Catalina Island, Unemployment Is 90%. A Local Food Pantry Is Making Sure No One Goes Hungry
On Catalina Island, Unemployment Is 90%. A Local Food Pantry Is Making Sure No One Goes Hungry

On Catalina Island, Unemployment Is 90%. A Local Food Pantry Is Making Sure No One Goes Hungry

Dany Silva Rios is a high school senior who volunteers at the pantry. “We all need help right now,” he said. “Since the whole island pretty much shut down and no tourists are allowed to come in right now.”

Silva Rios didn’t know the food pantry existed a month ago. Before the coronavirus, it fed five to seven families a week. Now, 150 families come by every week for groceries, according to Niah Gerard, a pantry organizer.

Dany Silva Rios wears rubber gloves when volunteering, as is required.

On Wednesdays, Silva Rios helps put together bags of groceries for elderly and disabled residents. He has been doing community service for a long time and he’s president of Avalon High’s volunteer club. “I joined mainly because I had a bunch of free time on me. But as soon as I kept going with it, I pretty much just fell in love with helping out people,” he said.

Now, with the sudden need for volunteers at the food pantry, Silva Rios and his fellow students are delivering groceries to people they have known their entire lives.

Almost Everyone in Avalon Is Affected

Everyone I know on the island is impacted by the coronavirus. Even my mom, who works as a tour guide at the zip line, a popular activity for tourists, was furloughed. My sister usually works next door at the aerial adventure park, which is also closed. Both just filed for unemployment.

Dany Silva Rios usually works in the food service industry. Now, he is feeding people in a different way. (Ariella Markowitz)

In Avalon, folks struggle to make it on a good day. Many high school students like Silva Rios work to help support their families. “The general goal is to work during most of the summer, the two jobs I have, and save up so I could get ready to go to college,” he said.