HANFORD — It’s becoming increasingly common for seniors to face food insecurity – not knowing where their next meal will come form – in America, but thanks to the a partnership between the Kings County Commission on Aging and Hanford Parks and Recreation, local seniors can always mark at least one trip to the “grocery” on their calendar.
On the first Wednesday of every month, the KCCOA hosts a free food bank from 9 a.m. to noon at the Longfield Center, 560 S. Douty St.
“It’s a really big help to me and my grandchildren love it,” 60-year-old Edna Harmon said. “They love when I bring home oranges and plums and avocados. They love it. Their mother said to me, ‘That’s old people stuff you’re going out to do’ and I said, ‘sure, it’s old people stuff but when I come back, you’re the first to go through it.’”
Harmon visits the food bank every month, she said, to pick up food for herself and her daughter, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Since retiring, Harmon’s income has been reduced to less than half of what it was, but thanks to the KCCOA’s food bank as well as others hosted by organizations like the Salvation Army, Koinonia Church and the Kings Community Action Organization among others, she said she rarely, if ever, has to spend money on groceries.
According to Feeding America, which serves Kings, Fresno, Kern, Madera and Tulare counties through the Central California Food Bank, 63 percent of the senior households they serve are forced to choose between food and medical care. Since 2001, the number of food-insecure seniors nearly doubled. Annually, the organization distributes nearly 30 million meals.
The Central California Food Bank provides the KCCOA with the meals they distribute at the Longfield Center each month and the food provided usually consists of produce, juice, citrus fruits, vegetables, lettuce, carrots and potatoes and bread among other rotating items.
Each month, the KCCOA’s food bank serves about 500 people a month, about 80 percent of whom are seniors. The number of customers served by the free food bank jumped by about 100 over the holiday season, according to executive director Bobbie Wartson.
Each month, KCCOA distributes about 12,000 pounds of food on a first-come-first-served basis. Customers do not need to bring proof of age or income, though first-timers must fill out a brief questionnaire.
“We have a wonderful partnership with Parks and Recreation,” Wartson said.
As of shortly after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, over 200 people had already signed in to receive groceries and such a large number of people necessitates a large number of volunteers to unlock trucks, bag and distribute food and carry that food to customers’ vehicles.
Many of the seniors struggle getting the food back to their cars, especially if they are in poor health or if they’re picking up food for more than one household, as many do.
The event currently has 25-30 regular volunteers but organizers are seeking more to help facilitate the growing turnout.
“You’ll hear people telling their friends about it weeks in advance and reminding them when it is. It’s cool to hear that buzz,” KCAO employee Eden Brock said.
For more information, call 559-852-2828 or visit www.kccoa.org.
HANFORD – Baby Davina wasn’t ready to arrive on her scheduled due date of Dec. 24, 2018, instead, she waited to make her debut on New Year’s Day!
The 7 pound, 7 ounce bundle of joy arrived at 2:13 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2019, at the Adventist Health Hanford Birth Center.
Since Samantha and Miguel Sr. of Armona were expecting their baby at any moment, they decided to stay home and watch movies with their four other children, ages 8, 7, 5 and 2. Their 5-year-old son, Miguel Jr., is the only boy, and according to mom, he wasn’t too pleased with the news of another baby sister.
“He cried when he found out early on that the baby was a girl,” Samantha said. “He didn’t want another baby sister.”
The children also weren’t too thrilled about having to go to the hospital on New Year’s Eve, but were happy to see baby sister arrive.
“I’m just blessed that she came out healthy,” Samantha said.
Davina’s name has special meaning. Miguel Sr.’s cousin, David, recently passed away and he wanted to pay tribute by giving his daughter a similar name.
WASHINGTON — No one budged at President Donald Trump's closed-door meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, so the partial government shutdown persisted through Day 12 over his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. They'll all try again Friday.
In public, Trump renewed his dire warnings of rapists and others at the border. But when pressed in private by Democrats asking why he wouldn't end the shutdown, he responded at one point, "I would look foolish if I did that." A White House official, one of two people who described that exchange only on condition of anonymity, said the president had been trying to explain that it would be foolish not to pay for border security.
In one big shift, the new Congress will convene today with Democrats taking majority control of the House, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said they'd quickly pass legislation to re-open the government — without funds for the border wall.
"Nothing for the wall," Pelosi said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show set to air today. "We can go through the back and forth. No. How many more times can we say no?"
But the White House has rejected the Democratic package, and Republicans who control the Senate are hesitant to take it up without Trump on board. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a "total nonstarter." Trump said ahead of his White House session with the congressional leaders that the partial shutdown will last "as long as it takes" to get the funding he wants.
"Could be a long time or could be quickly," Trump said during lengthy public comments at a Cabinet meeting, his first public appearance of the new year. Meanwhile, the shutdown dragged through a second week, closing some parks and leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay.
Democrats said they asked Trump directly during Wednesday's private meeting why he wouldn't consider their package of bills. One measure would open most of the shuttered government departments at funding levels already agreed to by all sides. The other would provide temporary funding for Homeland Security, through Feb. 8, allowing talks to continue over border security.
"I said, Mr. President, Give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said afterward. "He could not give a good answer."
Trump's response about looking foolish was confirmed by a White House official and another person familiar with the exchange, neither of whom was authorized to describe the exchange by name. Trump campaigned saying Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico refused.
At another point Wednesday, Trump told Pelosi that, as a "good Catholic" she should support the wall because Vatican City has a wall, according to a congressional aide. Trump has mentioned the Vatican's centuries-old fortifications before, including at the earlier Cabinet meeting. But Democrats said they don't want medieval barriers, and Pelosi has called Trump's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border immoral.
"I remain ready and willing to work with Democrats," Trump tweeted after the meeting. "Let's get it done!"
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said that there's no need to prolong the shutdown and that he was disappointed the talks did not produce a resolution. He complained that Democrats interrupted Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen as she was trying to describe a dreadful situation at the border.
Nielsen, participating in the meeting by teleconference, had data about unaccompanied minors crossing the border and a spike in illegal crossings, and she tried to make the case to the group that current funding levels won't suffice, according to the White House.
"We were hopeful that we could get more of a negotiation," said McCarthy.
He said the leaders plan to return to the White House Friday to continue negotiations. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox that Pelosi will be "more able to negotiate" once she is elected speaker, as expected today.
The two sides traded offers, but their talks broke down ahead of the holidays. On Wednesday, Trump also rejected his own administration's offer to accept $2.5 billion for the wall. That proposal was made when Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials met at the start of the shutdown with Schumer, who left saying they remained far apart. On Wednesday Trump repeatedly pushed for the $5.6 billion he has demanded.
The partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22. Funding for the wall has been the sticking point in passing essential spending bills for several government departments.