Line at free food program started as early as 2 am

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Less than an hour before the 6 am opening of the Emergency Food Assistance Program at the Tiyan Upper Baseball Field, the line had reached its limit, and no other cars could line up.

Since the start of the public health emergency, there has been an increased demand for food assistance.

The line for an emergency food distribution program was maxed out this morning even before the supplies were given away.

Less than an hour before the 6 a.m. opening of the Emergency Food Assistance Program at the Tiyan Upper Baseball Field, the line had reached its limit, and no other cars could line up.

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In a statement, Krystal Paco, the governor’s press secretary, said that by 5 a.m., a thousand cars were in line to get a bag and a box filled with items such as beans, rice, and meat.

Jon Fernandez, the superintendent of the Guam Department of Education which oversees the program, says the line had started as early as 2 a.m. and that the agency has never seen such a high demand for food assistance.

“That line showed you that there is a real need for food support because I can’t imagine any household making that decision lightly to line up up that early in advance for a box of food commodities. It is a sign or a symptom of a much deeper problem that I hope we can handle,” Fernandez said.

Last week, there were so many cars that waited at the now-closed Piti distribution site that the line backed up traffic along Marine Corps Drive.

With regard to keeping up with demand, Fernandez says that it is not an issue of a lack of supplies but a need for more personnel to process and package the commodities as well as control traffic.

Today, Vice Speaker Telena Nelson sent out a request for the Guam National Guard to assist with the program’s logistics.

Guam National Guard Adjutant General Esther Aguigui told K57’s Patti Arroyo that the issue has been brought up by the lieutenant governor and that the Guard is ready and willing to support if needed.

During her online news conference, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero commended the program and said that her administration will help if other sites are identified.

“I think we’ve gotten a good system going and we will continue that. And we will continue to work with the Department of Education to identify other sites that they will be using to distribute the food to our people out there,” the governor said.

As part of the program, food bags and boxes will be distributed on Friday at the Tiyan Upper Baseball Field and the Dededo’s Farmer’s Market from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Only 2,000 bags will be given out at each site on a first-come, first-serve basis.