Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Westside Family Fellowship Church hosted its monthly Food Giveaway with a record-breaking attendance of 1,400 individuals and over 350 cars participating.
"We distributed fresh fruit and vegetables, canned and dried goods, and meat products," Pastor Sukie Martinez said.
The food banks occur every fourth Thursday of the month from 8 to 10 a.m. This month was special because they had the support of the Grocery Outlet.
"We received a donation from the owner, Amor Regis. She gave us a variety of food staples and presented us with a generous monetary gift. We are very grateful, especially during this month of Thanksgiving."
"Like us, she is here to serve the community. She wanted to connect with us because of what we do."
Regis said, "We wanted to participate because it's a worthy cause, and we know the people need it. We also want to give back to the community that has been so good to us since we opened our doors earlier this year."
Martinez and her husband, Pastor Johnny Martinez, have organized these events for three years. "We recognized the necessity. In particular, after Covid, we wanted to supplement families' income and help them since food prices have skyrocketed."
She added that the goal is to bring the service close to home, "so residents don't have to travel far to places like Bakersfield and make it accessible to the community and readily available."
Martinez said that people appreciate the extra help. "To bless them by nourishing them and bringing joy to their lives. They leave happy. We are feeding both their bodies and their spirit."
She believes the food bank is positively affecting the Wasco community. "We aim to fill the gap when people struggle check to check."
Many volunteers contributed, helping to make the event a success.
"They work very hard. They come very early in the morning. Some cook for us, making breakfast and lunch. They stay until it's over and clean up, so we leave it like we found it."
"They all participate, and it's physical. They give of their time. Some have to work a day before to prepare. Bags of food must be sorted and made up for distribution. We would not be able to conduct this service without the help of our volunteers."
Martinez said the church will continue with their efforts to be a pillar of support for the community.
"Our hope is that the community sees us as a resource and an organization they can turn to."