Attempt to Feed the Poor Nearly Shut Down

July 28, 2009 8:54:03 PM PDT
Nearly twenty five hundred people were almost turned away from a food giveaway in Mendota because they didn't bring proof that they really need the help. And the changes are putting future food giveaways in jeopardy.Hundreds of people in Mendota watched the Community Food Bank unload seven truck loads of food Tuesday morning. Most came with boxes but not the id, electric bill and proof they're unemployed because of the drought ... the new state requirements to qualify for this free food.

Dana Wilkie said, "The representatives of the state felt that because there were so many people who were not following the guidelines that it might be best to stop the line and send people home."

In order to qualify for the food giveaway, everyone was supposed to show proof of residency, plus, an unemployment slip, termination notice, or letter from an employer stating they were laid off because of the drought.

Food Bank President Dana Wilkie says she had to convince state authorities to continue the food giveaway just this once without all the documents because almost half the town is out of work. She says creating such a narrow criteria for migrant workers just isn't practical.

"My job at the food bank is to feed people, it isn't to turn them away because they don't have the right piece of paper," said Wilkie.

Leslie Cahdd said, "This food is really nice to have because I get to eat for a while."

Leslie can't remember the last time he paid an electric bill. He said, "Don't have one. I'm living in a car at a friend's house."

Chadd works odd jobs for money and says a full meal is a rare luxury for him. He said, "Yesterday I had a cantaloupe. Day before that I had two cantaloupes."

He's grateful for the two weeks worth of food but fears he won't be so lucky next time.

"We advertised, we tried to do everything to get message out but they're here, they're hungry and waiting in line for hours for this food," said Wilkie.

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