Valley food banks are calling it a "drought disaster"

As we head into the summer months, the number of people needing assistance is rising as the water shortage continues to affect jobs in the region.
Friday, June 20, 2014
As we head into the summer months, the number of people needing assistance is rising as the water shortage continues to affect jobs in the region.

Some Fresno County communities are getting some relief, though, at least for now.

Families in Orange Cove have been hit hard by the drought. Some have lost their jobs, while others have had their work hours drastically reduced, making it difficult for hundreds of people to provide food for their families.

Many rely on food distributions at places like the Iglesias El Bueno Pastor Church to survive.

"There are a lot of us out here that really need this," said Virginia Risenhoover.

Just as she and nearly 300 others lined up outside the church on what was supposed to be the last day of the month-long drought relief program, the Community Food Bank announced it's extending the effort another few months through October.

"These are families that are seeing a very direct effect of the drought, there's not enough work for everybody especially in a small town that's predominately farm working," said Community Food Bank Coordinator Maria Ayala.

That means close to 2,000 families in communities like Firebaugh, Mendota, San Joaquin, Huron and Orange Cove can pick up boxes of shelf-stable foods.

"That's your rice, beans, peanut butter, pasta, things like that," explained Ayala.

They can also receive bags full of fresh produce.

"We have onions, bell peppers and oranges out here today," she added.

Foods, many said are increasing in price as farmers are forced to fallow their fields because of the lack of water.

"Oh my gosh, it's been horrible. The heat is just unbelievable, the prices of food have gone up," said Maria Sayer as she carted off a few boxes. "This food giveaway is a blessing."

Others said, without it, their families would starve.

"Oh, it's helped a lot," said Risenhoover. "Especially when you don't really have any place to go and you need food just to be able to survive."

Because of the growing need in several Fresno County communities, the food bank is working to extend the program again through the end of the year.

"The whole process started back in January when there was a drought declaration and the governor allocated some funding to get food into communities that have been affected by the drought because of that we're able to get some drought relief food coming out of Sacramento," said Ayala.



Related Topics:
news Orange Cove Firebaugh Mendota Huron San Joaquin
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