South Valley students are joining the fight against hunger

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Bins and boxes are now full of fresh, sweet corn at the Food Link in Visalia and ready for hungry residents. More than 20-thousand ears of corn have been collected all thanks to the efforts of local students.

"Coming from Pixley, which is a community that is fairly poor. You see the poverty and the people that go hungry. So being able to help my community in any way possible is great for me," said Christopher Reynoso , Harvesting Hope Volunteer.

Mission Oak High School students from Tulare were one of the many who volunteered this past Saturday at the Tulare High School farm, picking corn from tall stalks and organizing the 500 volunteers that showed up at Harvesting Hope. Schools from Visalia to Pixley arrived to help.

"I got to talk to a lot of people as they came in and just to see the little kids say 'lets go pick corn.' It was so exciting. It made my day," said Jessica Ferreira, Harvesting Hope Volunteer.

Coordinator Michaelpaul Mendoza says this is the third harvest they've hosted and it all started with planting a seed. "Students wanted to do something good in the community and what started out as a class project, turned into a movement here in the region."

In the past students have picked donated acres of land, and this year, the FFA students were given seeds to grow corn from the ground up. The fresh produce will now be given out to residents through a food link nutrition program.

Because of the drought, officials say they're seeing more hungry people and families. "We've seen an increase in about 58 percent and that's a huge number of individuals who are now visiting and using our pantries and other distribution sites as well," said Sarah Ramirez, Food Link Executive Director.

The students say they are looking forward to harvesting more farmland in the future, but they're proud of the seeds of hope they've already planted in their own community.

Over the next month, Food Link will distribute the corn to South Valley residents. null
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