HANFORD – More than 260 people lined up at the Longfield Center on Wednesday with the hopes of getting food to feed their families.
The Kings County Commission on Aging organized the event and the Community Food Bank in Fresno delivered about 12,000 pounds of fresh produce to be handed out to people in the community. The food was donated by local farmers.
“We served a lot of people [Wednesday],” said aging commission Director Bobbie Wartson. The food distribution will continue the first Wednesday of every month.
Wartson said she was thrilled when the Community Food Bank reached out, wanting to form a partnership to serve more people in the Hanford area.
The Community Food Bank has many services including the Neighborhood Market and the Mobile Pantry programs that serve people in Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kings, and Kern counties. The Food Bank works with other local groups to distribute food. The partners organize the events and help supply volunteers while the Food Bank collects the food to bring to give away.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Wartson said. “I feel pretty good about it.”
Wartson said Kings County Commission on Aging often receives calls from seniors who are in need of food. Callers are given a list of places where food is distributed nearby and sometimes will buy food and deliver it to people.
While the commission on aging helped organize Wednesday's food give away, it was not limited to seniors. Anyone who needed food could take advantage of the event.
“There’s a need for food here in Kings County,” Wartson said.
Susana Mendoza, direct services coordinator for the Community Food Bank, said one in four people suffer from food insecurity in the Central Valley. One in six people suffer from food insecurity nationwide, she said.
Food insecurity is when people do not have access to a sufficient amount of affordable and healthy food.
“A lot of people suffer from food insecurity,” she said. “It is not just the homeless.”
Mendoza said college students and people struggling financially with a family can have trouble providing food for the table.
Mendoza said the Food Bank is always looking for other organizations to partner with them to help get food to the people who need it.
Hanford resident Albert Romero said the Neighborhood Market is a blessing for people who need it.
“It’s hard to work on a limited income and this helps a lot,” he said.
Romero said he heard about the distribution through friends and wanted to get some food for himself and his wife.
Romero said he goes to food distribution sites when he absolutely needs to, otherwise he would not have gone on Wednesday.
“This is a really good program for the disabled,” he said.
Gabriela Samperio and Felipe Chairez drove from Riverdale Wednesday morning hoping to get some fruits and vegetables, which, like other healthy foods can be expensive.
“There are people out there that need this,” she said.
Lorraine Gonzalez walked out with bags filled with onions, potatoes, fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce on Wednesday.
“This is pretty cool,” she said. “My kids will get fresh food. These are the basic staples that you can make anything with.”
“There are people out there who work really hard that can’t get ahead,” she said. “Every little thing helps.”