Firebaugh Food Drive Magnifies Importance of Water Solutions

April 13, 2009 10:37:42 PM PDT
Unemployment in West Fresno County is at an all time high hovering around 40% and a water drought has over run the area. People are desperate looking for help and solutions to their problems. That's why earlier Monday hundreds of people lined up in Firebaugh for free food. Families are using this food drive to get ready for a massive water march along the Valley's West side.About 1,000 people showed up to Firebaugh's community center patiently waiting for this weeks meal that will feed their families. One mother we spoke to said unless the state deals with the water shortage she'll have to continue relying on food drives like this one on Monday.

"I've gotta do what I've gotta do," said Alvina Toledo.

Toledo is one of thousands living in Firebaugh unemployed, looking for work and trying to feed her children. "I'm used to having a job. I've gotta supply for my family," she said.

Monday at the community rec center Toledo and hundred of others like her received boxes with a weeks supply of food, fresh vegetables and fruit. This food was possible because of a private donation to the Fresno county Economic Opportunities Commission (E.O.C.) that will cover supplies until May.

"When June comes around what are we going to do? Where are we going to get the money," worried organizer Gabriela Romero.

That's what people in this line wonder too. Agricultural work dried up when water allocations to west Fresno County were reduced to zero.

"We have 3 to 4 generations of farmers who are going to lose their property," said Firebaugh city manger Jose Ramierez.

That's why Ramierez is joining up with farmers on the west side and the Latino Water Coalition Tuesday for a 4 day water march.

Day 1 begins in Mendota and ends in Firebaugh. Wednesday and Thursday protesters will march from Shields to 152 along I-5. Day 4 will start at the 152 and 33 interchange and end at the /*San Luis Reservoir*.

When the march ends at the San Luis Reservoir organizers hope the state and federal government see this is much more than a water drought, it's about putting and keeping food on the table.

"Without water you can't ... you don't have anything," exclaimed Toledo.

"It's like we have the lasso around our neck," said Ramierez.

This city manager worries what will happen to families like Toledo's when there is no more food to hand out. Marchers are asked to wear blue t-shirts Tuesday to represent water. About 3,000 people have announced they will participate. Governor Schwarzenegger has announced he will show up to the reservoir on Friday.

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