Grant provides nourishment to ‘food deserts’ in Eastern Coachella Valley

catholic-charitiesPeople living in some of the most impoverished parts of the Coachella Valley will feel additional relief now that a $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight was awarded to Catholic Charities San Bernardino & Riverside Counties. The grant, presented by the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, will increase the amount of fresh, healthy food available to people with immediate needs living in Mecca, North Shore, and in isolated, difficult to reach trailer park communities in the Coachella Valley.

“We are grateful to the Berger Foundation and to the CBS Local 2 Advisory Board for recognizing this very real need in the Eastern Coachella Valley,” said Ken F. Sawa CEO and Executive Vice President of Catholic Charities San Bernardino & Riverside Counties. “The grant will be used to maintain and expand this highly cost-effective and much needed program for the hardworking, poor, isolated families in this part of our service area.”

Catholic Charities’ Eastern Coachella Valley food distribution program provides healthy food including fresh produce, eggs, packaged meals, and other perishable and nonperishable items to some of the poorest communities in the valley. These communities are considered food deserts because there are very few grocery stores selling fresh foods in these areas. And while Catholic Charities’ food distribution program aids people with the immediate need of nourishment, the family and community services programs help members of eastern valley communities move toward new opportunities and futures.

“This program provides families and individuals in desperate situations with healthy foods, which allows them to spend part of their limited budgets on other necessities such as rent and utilities,” said Christopher McGuire, Vice President of Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “Catholic Charities’ mission aligns with our Foundation’s mission – to help people help themselves. We are happy to support this hand up to help people escape poverty.”

Catholic Charities’ Eastern Coachella Valley food distribution program has been operating for more than 10 years and serves about 600 families each week. Annually, this program helps more than 3,000 unduplicated households and 14,000 unduplicated individuals. The program consists primarily of community volunteers who are mission driven to fight poverty and its consequences. Each week about 40-50 volunteers sort, pack and distribute food to their neighbors in need.

“The volunteers in the Catholic Charities program care about the people they serve, and are dedicated, not only to help people with their immediate needs, but also to help them see beyond their current situations,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, Catholic Charities was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of October. For more information call 760-342-0341 or visit www.ccsbriv.org.