Local community members waited patiently in line outside Adkison Elementary School Friday morning in Ceres. It's a scene that repeats itself often when the Second Harvest program brings its Mobile Fresh Food Truck to Ceres Unified School District campuses.
“Your heart bleeds when you see people hungry,” said second-year volunteer Barbara Alexander. “The goal is to make sure everybody is fed. Whole families are going to eat tonight.”
More than 20 volunteers handed out free groceries to 200 people between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Ana Escobedo distributed bottles of milk and blocks of cheese while Alma Cabrera doled out bananas, lettuce and lemons. Apples, strawberries, cucumbers, watermelon, potatoes, eggs, boxed spaghetti noodles and frozen pot pies were also provided to families, along with an assortment of other items.
“It’s not junk,” commented Alexander. “It’s good food.”
“We receive a lot of rescued food from grocery stores,” Mobile Fresh Coordinator Dan Vanderveen said.
“I love the program,” volunteer Chuck Kennedy said. “It’s incredible. It’s much-needed. I enjoy interacting with the clients. That’s just as important as giving them food.”
CUSD expanded the Second Harvest Food Bank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties distribution program to all Ceres Schools after Walter White Elementary Principal Edith Narayan brought the Mobile Fresh food truck to her site in 2018-19.
“It’s an awesome program that helps a lot of people,” volunteer Nola Gallardo said. “We see every race in the U.S. here.”
In the summer of 2019, Starbucks Coffee Company donated $150,000 to Second Harvest to support food distributions in Ceres.
More than 80 percent of CUSD’s students qualify for the federal free and reduced meals program according to District Communications Specialist Beth Jimenez said.
The Second Harvest Food Bank Mobile Truck will continue to make its rounds at Ceres schools. Free groceries will be dispersed from 9-10 a.m. at the following sites over the next three months.
• October 9 – Sinclear Elementary; 14 – Caswell Elementary; 17 – Don Pedro Elementary; 23 – Walter White Elementary.
• November 1 – Adkison Elementary; 6 – Carroll Fowler Elementary; 11 – Caswell; 20 – Don Pedro; and 21 –Water White Elementary.
• December 3 – Sinclear; 11 – Walter White; 13 – Adkison; 16 – Caswell; and 18 – Don Pedro.