This story was contributed by our Communications Manager here at Second Harvest, Vicki Lowell:
Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP) serves men, women and children who are HIV positive living in Santa Cruz County. Their mission is to promote and participate in a comprehensive and compassionate response to HIV and AIDS through education, advocacy, and supportive services.
“There are still people living with HIV and AIDS and there is no cure,” says Jessica Donahue, a Case Manager at SCAP. “We use outreach and events to educate people that this is still a current issue and to reduce the stigma.”
With offices in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, SCAP currently has approximately 250 clients. In addition to counseling and advocacy, they provide a small on-site food pantry that clients may access once a week.
“Many of the clients we serve fall under federal poverty levels and rely on our food pantry to either supplement the cost of groceries, or as their primary source of food,” Jessica explains. “Nutrient rich food is important to people with HIV/AIDS because it helps keep one’s immune system strong to better fight disease.”
Clients may access the pantry once a week, filling a bag with one of each item for themselves and their families. The majority of the food comes from Second Harvest; they also receive produce from the Homeless Garden Project.
Jessica says in addition to the produce, clients appreciate staples such as rice, beans, cereal and milk. “The spices, condiments, salad dressings and oils we receive from Second Harvest’s food drives are also popular because these items are expensive to purchase at the grocery store.”
“I have been so happy being able to use local produce to stay fed and healthy,” says one SCAP client. “Thanks for the great produce.”
SCAP relies heavily on volunteers and support from the community. One of their largest fund raising events is the Surf City AIDS Ride that takes place on September 21st. All proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Aids Project. Registration for the event is now open.