Orange Cove Food Distributions feed families and foster community among residents

Posted on May 31, 2019

Every month Fresno EOC Community Services staff, with the help of volunteers in Orange Cove, begin their morning bagging food delivered by Central Valley Community Food Bank to feed local families. Volunteers are community members receiving food themselves and in similar need as the rest of the families attending the food distributions.

“I come to help every month, but I try to do it for my six kids and so we can spread out the food,” Maria Blanco, volunteer said. “The people are nice here, they pay attention to us and not a lot of people do.”

Volunteers begin arriving as early as 6am; they wait for food to be delivered and help throughout the morning until about noon, when it’s time to clean up.  As a group, the volunteers bag food commodities by categories which are later placed in stations to handout to families.  They continue to make food distributions a successful and welcoming experience for all.

Juanita Bitino said she’s enjoyed volunteering in her community for over 60 years and has seen the impact food distributions make for farmworkers in rural areas, like Orange Cove. “Most of the jobs are temporary in the area,” Bitino said. “If people are picking cherries and they get damaged, then they can’t go to work. When they aren’t going to work or getting paid they don’t have food and that’s why they come.”

With cities like Orange Cove, surrounded by agriculture, residents usually have to travel far from home to get affordable and fresh groceries. By conducting the Fresno EOC Food Distributions at a centrally located park, residents can walk or drive a short distance to get a balanced offering of nutritious staples.

“People can get things here and they don’t have to go 20 miles to get to a store, especially if they can’t,” Adora Lomby, volunteer said. “I live in Squaw Valley; all I have is goats and the dog to keep me company, but here the people here make you feel happy and healthy.”

Residents usually receive a variety of foods such as, meat, beans, rice, milk, fruits, vegetables, juice and bread. This food gives families the opportunity to make full meals from the food commodities they receive.

“Being able to provide food to families in small rural communities has been a wonderful and humbling experience,” Gabby Romero, Fresno EOC Community Services Program Manager. “Having dedicated community members who have been volunteering for years make this experience rewarding.”

Fresno EOC Food Distributions have proudly served families in Fresno County through freezes, droughts and other natural disasters for over 10 years. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering or would like to attend a food distribution click here learn more.