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COUCH'S CORNER: The efforts to keep Kern County fed

One of the blessings of living in Kern County is how plentiful food is here. We are the bread basket of the world, something for which we should be proud.

So it pains me to see that even while the food is bountiful here, some go hungry, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. However, with all the hunger that is evident here, we continue to throw food away.

So it’s heartening to see how some organizations and communities have risen to the challenge to get this food distributed to those who have a need. Our District 4 Office is excited to be a partner in these enterprises and with these communities and extend the challenge to all of you.

We can agree or disagree on a lot of things, but we should all agree on this: No one in Kern County should go hungry.

If we work together, we can build the infrastructure so that we can get the food to the right place to feed those that are hungry. Oftentimes the metropolitan area is better equipped to get food to the hungry, but in the rural communities, the infrastructure is often lacking.

Volunteers, like Claribel Guierrez in Delano and Blankey Centeno in Arvin, strive to fill in the gaps, but the challenge is great.

One organization has worked particularly hard to fill this gap, and we have partnered with them to put together a plan to feed the hungry in the rural communities.

Laborers of the Harvest (LOTH), whose main building is in Taft, has it all when it comes to food distribution. Bulk food distribution from Community Action Partnership of Kern happens three times a month, but between those events fresh produce from grocery stores is handed out twice a week, and every night food is prepared to feed the homeless and hungry in Taft.

Shari Rightmer, Executive Director of LOTH, proudly claims that there is no food insecurity in Taft for the hungry.

They know where to go to get a meal, a grocery basket full of fresh produce, or some bulk dry goods. To top it all off, many of her volunteers in this worthy effort are the homeless of Taft.

People that we may put a negative label on are the ones helping to feed the hungry. If they can rise up out of their difficult circumstances to take part in this noble effort, the question must come back to the rest of us: How can we help?

For me and my staff, we stand by their side. Working closely with CAPK, our own Public Health Department, and other District 4 communities, in particular Arvin, we are striving to build these networks to make sure no food gets wasted and no person goes hungry.

We have the will to make this work, but until we can get funding through grants and other institutional sources, help is needed from the private sector to make sure trucks have fuel, refrigeration bills are paid, and the lights stay on.

The Executive Director works for free, and the homeless volunteer staff don’t even have a place to lay their head, but they hare trying to continue on, hoping that help is on the way. You can be that help.

A GoFundMe page has been set up that can provide some of the immediate help needed to bridge the gap. Feel free to participate in this effort.

All you have to do is go to https://gofund.me/af80f0b6.

I promise you that on my end, we are developing the relationships and working on the program details that can ensure future funding is guaranteed, with the hope that all of the District 4 communities can have the infrastructure in place to recover food that would have gone to waste and to deliver food to the hungry in our communities.

And I’m thankful to all of you who may want to partner in this effort.

If you have any questions about this or any District 4 matter, contact us at 661-868-3680 or email us at district4@kerncounty.com. Have a safe week.

David Couch represents Kern County’s 4th District.