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Society Local & Events News

Food Now Feeds 550 Families Each Week Summertime Brings More Children in Need of Food DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – The nation’s painful economic hardship has stuck a deep blow to many residents throughout the desert. Families are struggling just to put food on the table, let alone pay their overdue mortgages. One group is working hard to ease some of that financial burden by providing food to families in need. Food Now, a community food pantry, is on the front lines in the war against hunger feeding more than 550 families every week who live in the western Coachella Valley cities of Desert Hot Springs, North Palm Springs, Thousand Palms, Sky Valley and Whitewater. In 2011, Food Now fed approximately 400 families each week, but that number has increased to more than 550 families due to a number of economic factors. “Most of our new clients are not chronic. They are the newly unemployed or the underemployed people feeling the effects of the economy,” said David Johnson, program director at Food Now. “And summers really hit us hard. Our support dramatically drops when the Snow Birds leave, but our demand goes up because students receiving free or assisted lunches at school are out for the summer, but still need to be fed every day,” Johnson said. Another problem is that federal, state, county and city funding has dried up. “It’s no one’s fault,” said Dana Johnson, David’s twin brother and volunteer grant writer for Food Now. “The city use to fund the program director’s salary of $30,000 a year but that stopped in 2010,” he said, noting that most government support was slashed over the past two years. “DHS has a huge need. In 2011, we supplied assistance to 21 percent of the population,” Johnson said. That staggering number reflects the city’s 18.9 percent unemployment rate which is double the national average. DHS

“DHS has a huge need. In 2011, we supplied assistance to 21 percent of population.” “We offer more than a hand out – we offer a hand up.”

Fund. The Community Foundation is such a great partner,” said Johnson. “We are truly humbled and elated they deem us worthy of their support. This is a big deal for us. We help over 500 families every week and see firsthand the devastation hunger can have on a family. We are so blessed to be in a position to have a direct impact on our community. Without support from partners like The Community Foundation, our work would be impossible,” he said. Additionally, Food Now has partnered with Family Services of the Desert (FSD) sharing their offices and food storage space. “The additional space worked out,” said John Brown, executive director of FSD. “There are challenges to finding financial support. The county cut back, there are less resources but we have more need. We’re both strapped.” Hunger comes with a whole set of problems. Many chronic clients have mental health issues and alcohol and drug problems. FSD offers mental health and medical treatments from volunteer physicians through their Urban Community Action Program. “We’re not just a food pantry anymore. We have wrap-around services with Family Services of the Desert, such as primary medical care, counseling, nutrition programs, parenting classes and pharmacy discount cards,” Johnson said. “We offer more than a hand out – we offer

Lisa and Cheryl, volunteers at Food Now a hand up.” Food Now operates on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m., and are located at 14080 Palm Drive behind the UPS store in the Von’s shopping center. For more information on how to receive food assistance or on how you can help, call 760-329-4100. Visit their website at www.foodnowinc.org or email them at foodnowinc@verizon.net

Dana and David Johnson of Food Now

Safety never felt so good

LIFETIME LIMITED WARRANTY N THE U.S.A EI

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has approximately 25,000 residents with nearly 3,000 more undocumented alien residents. Food Now gives away (on average) 45,000 pounds of food each month. Twenty volunteers give 10,000 hours a year, equaling more than $225,000 worth of labor to the cause. “We couldn’t do this without our volunteers. We have a very stable group of folks who come from our local churches and private homes.” Many volunteers are seasonal who come from Washington and Oregon, he added. The Johnson twins have found some very creative ways to shore up their leaking finances with fund-raising events like a chili cook-off at the Dillon Roadhouse last February and a golf tournament at the Mission Lakes Country Club last June - each event raised more than $12,000. Currently, the twins are busy planning a half marathon and 10K walk/run fundraiser for Dec. 8 hosted by the Skybourne residential community. Additionally, all donors of $500 or more will receive tickets to a Donor Appreciation Cocktail Party on Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa. That event will honor DHS City Manager Rick Daniels and his wife Joyce for their hard work and dedication in helping Food Now over these tough times. Luckily, on June 26, Food Now received some much-needed financial reinforcement with a $10,000 grant from The Community Foundation through their Community Impact

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Volunteers pack food July 26 - AUGUST 2, 2012

Desert Star Weekly

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Desert Star July 26 issue  

Desert Star weekly July 26 issue, Diane Morgan, Master Artist, Bhakti Fest 2012

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