Food Drive Running Out of Gas in Fresno County

October 23, 2009 9:43:39 PM PDT
West Fresno County residents who rely on bi-weekly food drives may lose this service next week unless new funding becomes available.After hours of waiting in line, Judy Breeden is finally moving. She arrived here before the sun came up, waiting for food. "I wouldn't stand in line for 5 hours if I didn't use the food," she said.

This has been her routine every other week since August ... picking up an identification number and claiming her boxes of food. It's also been the routine of hundreds of other residents in Firebaugh who are unemployed and trying to survive through this dought.

Breeden said, "Everyone that wanted to work had jobs before the water shortage."

The $3.9 million funding for this program was only designed to last through October.

"It's hard to see this as a disaster when you're used to earthquakes, floods, fires," said Ken Austin with the Fresno County Emergency Office.

Austin is pressing the state to maintain these food drives with money from the new ag appropriations bill signed Wednesday by the president.

"We hope the state uses their resources and funding they already have in place or this federal allocation will be able to identify funds to carry on the program," said Austin.

Even with funding residents in Firebaugh and West Fresno County are facing winter. It's a season historically plagued with fewer jobs in the field.

Breeden said, "There was some work. Now there's no work."

The office of emergency services hopes to have an answer from state leaders within a week if money will continue to flow. Residents just getting by said they will take whatever they can get.

Resident Betty Medley said, "I appreciate every little bit that they give us ... I'm about to cry."



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