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Connecting food and the community in the mountains

Locals work to combat food insecurity by offering affordable healthy options
Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 13, 2024

PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, Calif. (KERO) — Pine Mountain Community gathers to combat food insecurity by offering affordable healthy meal options.

  • Video shows Laborers of the Harvest offering affordable healthy meals weekly.
  • Laborers of the Harvest meets at 16281 Askin Dr. every Tuesday at 1 p.m.


“We joke around and say, if the bag is too light to carry, you don’t have enough food in the bag,” said Mel Weinstein with Laborers of the Harvest. He says the food forward organization started four years ago.

Originally, Weinstein was donating items to the Mountain Community Family Resource Center, when Shari Rightmer reached out about inheriting a food bank.

Now, four years later, that food bank turned into Laborers of the Harvest.

Weinstein said, “It was very important to us that they be treated equally and now that they’re getting decent food for the first time in a long time is really what labor of the harvest is all about.”

But it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

“The problem is that the food bank every month is literally hanging on by the fingernails,” said Weinstein. “And how we’re surviving some months is beyond my understanding.”

But with the new program, Laborers of the Harvest are able to keep things up and running.

Weinstein said, “We had to start a program where we needed to get some kind of steady income. And we then started charging $30 a month.”

And since then, Weinstein says one of the biggest priorities is making each person that walks through the door feel loved, comfortable, and welcome.

“We have a philosophy from the laborers of the harvest where we call about loving people up with food or basically the idea about if everybody counts and nobody counts.”

Whether that’s a greeting at the door…

“I go down the line of all the people every week and I thank them for coming and I tell them, without you, we couldn’t do this. You are our partners. So we’re so happy.”
Mel Weinstein, Laborers of the Harvest

“I go down the line of all the people every week and I thank them for coming and I tell them, without you, we couldn’t do this. You are our partners. So we’re so happy.”

Or cracking a few jokes.

“[If] we have a lot of food that we know we’re gonna have extra, I joke around with people saying, you know, you can’t just take one yogurt because they’re twins! You have to take both of them. Or if you have a lot of yogurt, you know, this is a whole family, you can’t separate them. So I try to make people comfortable,” said Weinstein.

And the community felt just that.

"We love it and we love the people here."
Alan Warren, Pine Mountain Club resident
“My roommate, Alan and Fred, they told me about this. They say they come here every week and I had never heard of anything like that.”
Buddy Morsello, new Pine Mountain Club resident
“I was going on a long way without some food because I had some issues. And somebody said there’s food giveaways over here, so I kind of just walked my way over here and found it.”
Sabor Clark, Pine Mountain Club resident

Now, the community that receives support also lifts up others.

“One of the homeless people who was working in Taft asked me if he could put up the $30 for me,” said Weinstein. “And I just, I didn’t even know what to say. I got so choked up and I said, ‘No, thank you so much.'”

And since then, some people would donate an extra $30 as a sponsorship for anyone who can’t afford it.

“The generosity that other people have shown; we’re still getting people who donate money every month that is geared towards sponsorship,” said Weinstein.

Connecting people through food and each other.

For more information on Laborers of the Harvest and how to get involved, visit their website.

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