BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Research by PepsiCo found rural communities are the most vulnerable to hunger and many of the communities are right here in the Central Valley. According to data from the California Association of Food Banks, about 8 million Californians face food insecurity. As of October 2020, here in Kern County, roughly 25% of residents are food insecure. So PepsiCo's Food for Good Program partnered with the Dolores Huerta Foundation committed to advancing food security by providing meals to those in need in Kern County. The organizations are making that difference by hosting food banks.
“Because of the pandemic, a lot of individuals lost their jobs and they are finding themselves in difficult times so it is very important for us to help them and step up and bring something and help them because we know that at least our farm workers are here, they are the backbone and they are who work, and bring food to our table. So it is our time to step up and do the same for them," Ruth Sanchez said.
Dolores Huerta Foundation Resource Manager Ruth Sanchez says the partnership with PepsiCo's Food for Good Program is all about meeting the needs of the community, providing nutritional meals and other resources to under served communities.
"The Central Valley spans 450 miles and supplies about half of all of the vegetable produce consumed in the United States yet despite all of that incredible work and amazing outputs farm working families in this area still face deep barriers to food insecurity," Lucie Dufour said.
Lucie Dufour with Food for Good says the program gifted the foundation with a $25,000 grant allowing the Dolores Huerta Foundation to partner with county food banks in Kern, Fresno, Tuare, and Antelope Valley.
Cecilia Castro/Deputy Director of Dolores Huerta Foundation: (2:40) “Since our partnership with PepsiCo we’ve actually hosted 51 food banks just this year in 2021 alone. This year we have been able to feed almost 13 thousand families through our volunteer led food banks," Cecilia Castro said.
Dolores Huerta Foundation's Deputy Director Cecilia Castro says the partnership has greatly impacted the community.
“Community members are extremely thankful for the foods that they’re receiving because many of the foods that we’re providing are also culturally appropriate foods, right. We don’t want to provide food that families are not going to use," Castro said.
“Thank you to everyone whose helping out the people especially giving out food to those who need it during these hard times," Resident Guillermo Rodriguez said.
Sanchez says the foundation will continue meal distribution.
“Every month at least twice a month we do have food banks we also do the hot meals for the unhoused every week," Sanchez said.
Both organizations plan to make an even greater impact in the future.
"Moving forward we are trying to increase nutritional food access for 50 million people by 2030. We’re particularly focused on increasing nutritious food access as well as sustainable agriculture so this partnership with the Dolores Huerta foundation to help support farm workers in the Central Valley is a great example of that," Dufour said.
If you are interested in getting involved with the Dolores Huerta Foundation's partnership with Food for Good, more information can be found on the Doloreshuerta.org.