COA Food Connection serves as a vehicle to share food

with individuals and families in our community who are struggling.

COA Food Connection ~ Who we are, What do we do and How do we do it…..   

The COA “Food Pantry” consists of volunteers who strive to feed people locally, people we may know or see every day.  They are a team that is committed to assisting those in need and generally doing positive acts to help our community. 

Where do we get the food? 

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning (8:00 am), we have volunteers who “pick up” donated groceries from Gelson’s, Ralph’s, Target and Walmart and transport them to the pantry to be sorted, stored or distributed that day.  We receive a lot of fresh deli items that need to be distributed asap.  Volunteers routinely take car loads of food to areas we know are in need, all local.  This usually takes a couple of hours in the morning and we always need volunteers to keep things running smoothly.

Currently, food distribution is done in two ways: 

Every other Monday afternoon/evening, COA sets up a food distribution at their current pantry location, The Baha’I Center, 3316 del Presidente, San Clemente, CA 92674.  This event is directed by Sylvia Hassard-Johnson, one of our lead volunteers.  We always need help setting up and working at this event, and everyone is welcome to “drop in” and lend a hand!  Set up begins at 2:00 pm, distribution is 4:00-6:00 pm and cleanup afterward is less than an hour.  Volunteers are not expected to work the entire time as we rotate volunteers.  We appreciate any time you can spare to make these food distributions successful! 

On the 1st and 3rd Thursday every month, Food Connection provides shopping in a pantry setting at Cotton’s Point Senior Apartments located at 2358 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672.  We literally “pack up the pantry”, do our pick ups and set up an outdoor marketplace where the seniors peruse the items and pick up what they want.  This is where our volunteering entails more than just feeding seniors.  Many of the seniors do not get out of their apartments much, so they get a chance to socialize together, something they never did prior to our participation!  We have been doing this for almost 5 years and many of the seniors have become family to us.  Prior to Covid, twice a month we provided a homemade lunch/BBQ in their rec room, followed by bingo, games, music, prizes, etc.! 

 If you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer, we certainly hope you will give us a try.  We have a solid core of volunteers that we know we can count on and hope you will consider joining COA Food Connection.  In addition to serving our community, we sure manage to have a lot of fun while doing it and great relationships have been formed at “The Pantry”!

VERY IMPORTANT: Please complete the COA Volunteer Waiver or online here

Molly Flores, Food Connection Co-Leader

MollyFlores

Edgar and Molly Flores live in San Clemente, CA with their two sons Steven and Daniel Flores. They are actively involved in running a successful local family business and pride themselves on quality. These two are high school sweethearts and have been happily married for over 20 years.

They have been mentoring youth for many years taking on roles such as Youth Director, Assistant Youth Director, Football coach, Choir Director, Church President and now Youth Alliance Board members. Edgar and Molly believe that guiding and supporting our youth is key in securing a healthy future for everyone.

They believe that by keeping our youth active, happy, healthy and communicating, that we can stop many of our young people from making the wrong choices about drugs and alcohol

Sylvia Hassard-Johnson – Food Connection Co-Leader

Sylvia is from Donegal on the West Coast of Ireland. She was 18 when moved to the South of England where she studied Hotel and Catering Management, progressing onto flight catering and then eventually became a flight service manager with Virgin Atlantic Airways. After meeting her husband Jerome, who is a pilot for FedEx, she moved to California in 2002, subsequently getting married and having Xavier (17) and Ava (15), who are currently attending San Clemente High School.

Sylvia became aware of COA in 2017 and volunteered with Food Connection. Her role here is coordinating the donations from the local grocery stores through our volunteers and on to supplying our seniors and families in need.

She believes that it is essential to give back in life by helping others and promotes this in all aspects of her life.

Karen Grata, Food Connection Lead Volunteer

Karen Grata is from New Castle, PA (last of 9 children!) and made San Clemente her home in 1986. She joined the Food Connection in 2017 for a new experience…volunteering! She has been a self-employed insurance broker for the past 40 years and occupies her time with martial arts, cooking, her spouse, Dave and Yorkie Terriers (4th. one pictured, Squeek). My goal is to waste no food!  Our challenge is to get it to the “end-user" and feed San Clemente! The relationships we’ve built together are irreplaceable and FUN happens at the pantry! Bring your positive energy and sense of humor!

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