How drought relief funds will be spent in the Valley

Local farmers aren't the only ones who hope to benefit from President Obama's historic Valley visit last Friday.
February 17, 2014 8:26:40 PM PST
Local farmers aren't the only ones who hope to benefit from President Obama's historic Valley visit last Friday. The statewide drought impacts everyone.

When you break down the president's drought plan you can see how the proposal even affects those who don't work in agriculture. Under President Obama's drought response plan $60 million will go to food banks. The president acknowledged less water means reduced plantings and as a result less work for many families.

Fresno Community Food Bank CEO Andy Souza sat in on the president's roundtable discussion on Friday. He expects the food bank to get most of those federal funds.

"It's just great to know that source of food is readily available for these families," Souza said.

Souza said the federal government wasn't engaged in 2009 when we saw long food lines in towns like Mendota and San Joaquin because of a drought. State funds helped provide food for 14,000 people a month. Souza expects the amount of people to jump to 25,000 people this summer.

"It's not just the number. It's the fact we're going from supplemental food assistance to subsidence. We will probably be the main source of food for many of these families," Souza said.

The president's drought response plan also includes $3 million in emergency water assistance grants for rural areas. Communities like Orange Cove, Strathmore and Lindsay hope to tap into those funds to ensure a stable water supply.

Jennifer Christensen of Orange Cove worries about the basic needs of her son Armani and her family.

"I'm pretty concerned because I have kids and they need to eat," Christensen said.

Christensen was glad to hear about the president's emergency water assistance plan. The drought moved Orange Cove to restrict outdoor water use.

"It's gonna be dirty cars and dry lawns and no blossoming flowers," Christensen said.

Towns like Strathmore and Orange Cove are looking at buying supplemental water which has been banked for later use by the Fresno Irrigation District.

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