Merced County Food Bank struggles to keep food cold

FRESNO, Calif.

A North Valley non-profit is struggling to make ends meat after losing a crucial piece of equipment.

The Merced County Food Bank feeds about 40,000 people a month. They survive on donations but problem is right now, they have no way to keep perishable foods from perishing.

The executive director Bernadette Mello says "it's a huge inconvenience" - and that is putting it lightly. She's talking about a broken compressor. It runs a huge fan, which keeps a huge cooler- cool.

Bernadette Mello said, "The problem is it's not keeping it at a low enough temperature for our normal things that would be in a refrigerator to stay at the correct temp they need."

The staff of just 10 employees rush to move their perishable donations as soon as they come in. A local business is helping them out. Which means they're moving their donations from their broken cooler to a cold storage and then they return those items to the food bank on a daily basis.

Mello said, "The pantries that shop with us are direct hands into the community. Without us getting the food they need into their hands they can't get it out into the community."

And she says, to make matters worse it's proving difficult to store the new food donations that come in.

"It's the fact that we're refusing product right now, we have more produce, other items that can come in but we're not taking them because it's more to transport back and forth at the end of the day," said Mello.

She says if the compressor isn't fixed soon the 40,000 people who depend on them won't get a balanced meal or fresh produce.

Mello explained, "If you think of living without a refrigerator in your own home for a while, you'd be going without eggs, without produce, without those staples that get us from one day to the next."

The fix is going to cost upwards of ten grand and counting. In the meantime, the food bank is doing its best to keep all that food as cold as possible before the temperatures really heat up.

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