Latino Life: The pandemic and Valley poverty

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The pandemic is impacting all families in the Central Valley, but the poorest are suffering more.

Centro La Familia Advocacy Services, an agency that helps the Valley's most vulnerable residents, is fielding 300 calls a day for help. Yet their staffing remains the same.

Executive Director Margarita Rocha shares the impact the pandemic is having on her agency and families in need.

Rocha said, "We've had over 11,000 calls. Our conference room, meeting room, training room, has become a pantry. Due to the pandemic, there's a huge need for rental assistance. PG&E assistance, mortgage assistance. Food is a daily, daily request. Those families now have fallen off because they're unemployed. So now they can't pay the rent they can't buy food they can't pay utilities. Obviously, childcare remains an issue. So, these families have just really fallen off what I call the cliff. We've had to step up to bring food out to the communities, and so therefore, in collaboration with the Mexican consulate and several other partners, Food to Share, Poverello, the food bank, we've done three major drive-throughs in rural communities of Mendota, San Joaquin and Huron."

Rolando Castro is Mendota's Mayor. "Special thank you to all volunteers, it was very hot out here. It was over 100 degrees but we made it," said Castro.

Rocha said," Through those drive-throughs, we have served over 3,200 families. This new service that we've added because we're not normally a food distributor has come in, layered on top of what we already are contracted to do. You know, our normal services that we provide, services and domestic violence services with parenting programs, etc. Immigration work, that all continues, but all of this is on top of it. Clearly the services and their needs has increased more than we can imagine."

Centro La Familia's annual fundraiser was canceled due to the pandemic. If you can assist Centro La Familia, call (559) 237-2961 https://www.centrolafamilia.org/
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