Local organization aimed at fighting food insecurity ready to help

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Many students across the Central Valley are back in the classroom this school year. Organizations like Harvesting Hope Tulare County are ready to welcome students or growers who would like to support their mission to fight food insecurity.

"This is a scenario where everybody wins," says Harvesting Hope Teacher Coordinator Michaelpaul Mendoza. "We are calling on growers maybe to consider donating a row of fruit."

They've made their way to large fields and smaller backyards of homeowners looking to donate produce.

The organization stemmed from a class project at Mission Oak in 2013.

"We've had over 1,000 volunteers come out, resulting in harvesting over 400,000 pounds of fresh produce, all which has been donated," Mendoza said.

Mendoza says it's been a wonderful experience to see students and community members connect for a greater cause even through the pandemic.

"Even in smaller groups outdoors, we still managed to pick 15,000 pounds of fruit," he said. "We had students who wanted to come out and we had masks and gloves."

Students like Mission Oak Senior Summer Briseno.

She has volunteered for over two years and says it's worth it every time.

"I love it so much, just the feeling to be able to give back to my community really got me, so I attended every harvest from then," he said.

About four years ago, they partnered with United Way to manage large harvesting opportunities and donations.

Rosemary Caso says partnering was a no-brainer and as a mother of a student who also volunteers, she feels hopeful to see younger generations care so much.

"Now, I am seeing my own kids out there gleaming to be able to provide the gift," she said. "It's a wonderful thing to see young adults taking that initiative for the greater good of their fellow neighbor. "

A small act that can go a long way.
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