Massive Turnout for Food Giveaway in Mendota

March 27, 2009 7:52:06 PM PDT
The Valley's drought and economic downturn brought nearly one-thousand people to the Mendota Day Care Center Friday.The line outside the Mendota Day Care Center stretched for blocks Friday with farm laborers, mothers and their children all waiting for hours to collect one free box of food.

One woman said, "What's it like to wait in line to get food? It's horrible. "Well, its sad cause there's no work so there's no work, there's no money."

Some of these people have been waiting in line since five this morning, and a lot of them will go home empty handed. The Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission provided the food, but only for 500 people. One-thousand showed up.

At 41-percent, Mendota's unemployment rate is the highest in California. The town's mayor attributes that to the state-wide drought, which has put thousands out of work. "The situation is very desperate, very desperate because these people don't want to be here but because the need of food is there, they're doing it," said Mayor Robert Silva.

Congressman Jim Costa joined Don Glaser from the Bureau of Reclamation and other Mendota leaders to see the problem first-hand. Glaser said, "It breaks my heart. It's hard for me to believe that this is California in the 21st century."

Glaser says the federal government is well-aware of California's water crisis. He says they are looking for short-term solutions, with long-term affects, announcing Friday, the allocation of what so many of these people desperately need.

"We will be raising the allocation for the exchange contractors on the San Joaquin to 100-percent, from 75 percent and that puts that much more water available in the valley," said Glaser.

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