Tsunami relief diverted to Valley needy

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The tsunami that devastated parts of Japan in 2011 prompted Glenn Tanaka, a farmer in Orange County, to organize a relief effort on his farm. Working with the Orange Coast Optimist Club, the money raised went to 14 needy Japanese farmers.

"This is our third year with Walk the Farm and we had 2,500 walkers from throughout Southern California come out; we had 600 volunteers and over 40 organizations volunteering their time and effort, so we raised over $100,000," said Tanaka.

But this year, Tanaka says $30,000 was set aside for drought relief in California. "It was about time we start keeping some of the money local and helping out, and of course everybody knows about the drought happening and we reached out and found the Nisei Farmers League to make a good donation to," he said.

Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League coordinated with Andy Souza of the Fresno Community Food Bank to use the money to help those communities most in need -- Cutler, Orosi, Farmersville, Huron, Avenal and Terra Bella.

"We are going to be able to provide over 200,000 meals. Those areas have a population of over 40 percent under the poverty level; unfortunately that includes about 7,200 kids and about 3,000 seniors," said Cunha.

Souza says the $30,000 donation comes at the right time. "January and February tend to be pretty low months at the food bank, so this really helps make a difference," he said.

And with another year of drought, and many farmworkers off the job, Cunha hopes this generosity from Southern California prompts more local donations to the food bank.

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.