Wendy Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Sal Valdivia, front, Jeff Fagan, center, and Antonio Samora load the trunk of a car with a Christmas dinner at the Madera County Food Bank on Saturday.
Local needs remain high after holidays
Madera County Food Bank gave 400 boxes filled with food for Christmas and beyond, plus gifts as well, to families in need this past Saturday.
“The boxes were about 60 pounds,” explained Ryan McWherter, executive director of the food bank. “We had bread, tortillas, a five-pound bag of masa, instant potatoes, boxes of Capri Sun, and two chickens each. The boxes themselves were filled with staples like rice, beans, veggies, juices — just all typical staples. The produce we had were yams, potatoes, bell peppers, and two bags of salad. … There were also pies and stuffing.”
Boxes were limited to one per household and often had to feed a large family. “You can imagine in Madera the typical families are an average of four” members, McWherter said. “I think the ones we serve are five (members) or even six sometimes.”
About 35 volunteers took part in the morning giveaway, including Sunrise Rotary’s Interact Club, Madera Rotary Club, Victory Outreach, Old Castle, manager Gina Wyrick of Bank of America, Bryan Mata of Georgia Pacific, and Madera Mayor Andy Medellin and his son Adam.
“Madera noontime Rotary gave us the grant to purchase the chickens … The ladies from the Madera Community Action Partnership of Madera County ... helped us purchase the stuffing,” McWherter said. “Donations came from Kraft, and Food Link of Sacramento. Grocery Outlet. La Tapatia from Fresno provided the tortillas and the masa. Pretty much everything else was ours after that.”
McWherter is grateful the community pitches in during the end-of-year holidays.
“We saw a huge spike for November and December, not only with the food but with donations,” McWherter said. “Schools (and businesses) doing food drives. … Everything really starts to activate from September through the end of December. Then we see it slow down a bit.”
The surge in giving during the holidays tends to subside after Christmas.
“After the times of the holidays, we do spend a lot of money on different stuff and it’s not always donated ... In the next few months it gets rough financially,” McWherter said. “People have given during the holidays, but it still is needed especially from January through February. Continue to support us. Even though the holidays are over, the people who need food are still coming. So we really do need that support.”
The need in Madera County typically remains strong in the months ahead.
“We always see a huge hike in numbers at this particular time,” McWherter said. “Since I’ve been here in 2011, we continue to see it spike, not just right now but starting in September through February … Work is just slower at that time. … We just want the community to know what we’re doing and to continue to put the word out that we’re still here.”