Member of Congress Attended Food Giveaway in Mendota

August 25, 2009 8:34:46 PM PDT
Emergency food distributions have become commonplace in the Central Valley's new era of long term water shortage. And Tuesday a powerful member of congress chose to come to the West Fresno County town of Mendota to see for himself why there is such a need for food and the unemployment figures that continue to rise here.His visit was met by a long line, hundreds of people waiting up to four hours for two weeks worth of food for their families. They had come long before the food distribution itself was to begin.

They are families without income. The drought and a lack Delta water has left the fields they worked in fallow and people like Maria Esparza and her family. She spoke without hesitation in Spanish as she told us what it means to have these gifts of food, "There is no work but this food is very good and they (hew family of 7) like it and appreciate it."

There is another commodity in short supply - too few volunteers to match the amount of food that could be handed out if there were more volunteers. Dana Wilkie, the CEO of the Community Food Bank explained why, "And we could get more food here from the Food Bank. It's sitting in the refrigerators at the Food Bank waiting to be distributed and all we need is more volunteers to do it."

Dene Vincent of Fresno was among those volunteering this day, "The people who are picking up the food you can tell they appreciate it. So it's nice, but its, the work is worth it."

And another first timer arrived just after noon. The Majority House Leader of thet House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Steny Hoyer has served in the House for 3 decades and came to Mendota at the request of Fresno Congressman Jim Costa to see the crisis firsthand, " It's a crisis not just for this town but it's a crisis for our country."

Jim Costa couldn't agree more, "We've got some of the hardest working people you've ever seen in your life would be working today putting food on America's table and they are in food lines."

That's why Sam Marquze is a volunteer despite the drive, the heat and the work, "You see the need and the people who are in dire straights of the drought and then you think about their needs."

Majority leader Hoyer was impressed by that volunteer commitment. And while stopping short of promising a solution he emphatically committed to finding one, "I can't believe that the most innovative and entrepreneurial country on the face of the earth can't figure out how to get water to these fields and protect fish and fowl at the same time. I think we can do that."

For now, those who toil at the bottom of America's food chain need the help of volunteers as those in power focus on finding a way to get water flowing on the Valley's Westside. There's plenty of work for everyone to do on that front.

The next food distribution takes place this Thursday at the Valley Life Community Church in Selma. It is located at 3200 McCall Avenue. Food will be distributed starting at 8 o'clock in the morning until it runs out.

http://www.handsoncentralcal.org/

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