Farmworker families left out in the cold

By Mo Moore

Approximately 500 people showed up around noon last Saturday at St. Anthony's Church in Farmersville to receive food boxes as part of relief efforts from the local communities and United Farmworkers Foundation (UFW) volunteers.

The 500 people that came were merely a glimpse of the almost 1,000 people who registered for food boxes throughout the day.

&#8220Those who came are not just from Farmersville, but also Exeter, Woodlake, Orange Cove and Visalia,” said organizer Marna Vasquez, also a citrus worker displaced by the freeze. Vasquez organized the food distribution on her own to help her fellow workers find some relief with the help of other UFW volunteers.

Pre-packed boxes with items such as dry milk, tortillas, pineapple, rice, cereal, chips, tuna, cooking oil and canned vegetables were given out to representatives from each of the families. FoodLink of Tulare County and other local organizations provided the food. St. Anthony's Church in Farmersville gave UFW permission to use the parking lot for the event.

The local UFW branches are trying to have two food distributions per week, if possible. They are also trying to set up committees in the towns hit hardest by the freeze in hopes to educate and inform people about the assistance that is available.

For those waiting in line, the wait is still not over even after they receive their box. For Guadeloupe Aguilera and his family of 10 the wait has only begun. Aguilera believes it may be two or more months before he will have a job again. Until then, his family struggles every day to find a new way to keep going.

&#8220The freeze affected everything. And the job just stopped, so now we just have to start all over,” said Aguilera. &#8220For those who can help, I would ask for God to help them to help us.”

For Porterville High School junior Alberto Vasquez, helping those affected by the freeze is a natural response. &#8220My family has been with the UFW for awhile and I knew I should help out.” The 16 year old helped pack over 1,000 food boxes Wednesday along with other volunteers. UFW will continue to help the thousands out of work by the freeze as the months go on.

Farm Worker Aid

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