TWENTYNINE PALMS — Food For Life Ministries, which provides free meals to those in need in the community, recently benefited from a large donation of perishable foods from Tortoise Rock Casino, forced to close its doors because of the continuing coronavirus crisis.
Casino officials donated what Pastor Don Thursby called a van and a half of perishable food items to Little Church of the Desert, which quickly called Food For Life and a couple of other local groups to pass the donation along.
With some modifications, the Food For Life Ministry is continuing to provide weekly meals from facilities at the Church of the Nazarene, 72603 Juanita Drive, President Debbie Tirozzi said.
“Food is harder to get,” she said, noting that ministry officials provide a wish list to their main supplier who then tries to fill it.
Volunteers are still delivering meals to those who can not make it to the church Saturday afternoons. They are averaging 260 meals a week.
Those who come to the church, however, are no longer allowed inside the fellowship hall where meals had been served.
Instead, volunteers set up a table outside. Meals are bagged and placed on the table where diners can pick them up.
Ministry officials are also limiting the number of volunteers working on meals to five or fewer.
“We are doing the best we can,” Tirozzi said. “It’s getting harder to buy things. Salad stuff is okay, we can get that.”
Side dishes, including large cans of green beans, have been harder to come by.
“We’ve been really blessed with cheese,” she said, noting that was one of the commodities, along with mushrooms, the ministry received from the casino’s donation.
“No bread but that’s okay, mostly produce.”
She said she wanted to thank members of the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians who made the donation.
“They were a blessing to a lot of groups,” she said. “I want everyone to know how amazing they are.”
“We got a call directly from the casino asking if we would be willing to receive a van and a half of food,” Thursby said.
Church officials started by handing out food to Little School of the Desert teachers left without work when the school was forced to close.
After that they began looking for groups in the community.
“We layed it out on tables, started making some phone calls,” he said. “It happened very quickly. It took care of a good sized chunk of people.”
He added that he still owes tribal leaders a thank you note.