January 8, 2023

IVFB holds first pop-up fresh produce distribution of the year

This article was originally published by the Imperial Valley Press on January 8, 2023 and can be read here.


EL CENTRO — Around 560 Imperial Valley residents lined up during the first fresh produce pop-up distribution by Imperial Valley Food Bank (IVFB).

IVFB volunteers set up produce stations where they handed a variety of lettuces and kale, cabbage, broccoli, sweet potatoes, peanut oil, cilantro, and hydration-flavored drinks to community members on Friday, January 6, at the former Sears's parking lot of the Imperial Valley Mall. The pop-up event was intended for the general Imperial Valley community.

According to Celeste Alvarez, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist at IVFB, this pop-up event differs from the agency's regular distributions and was made possible by a donation from local growers.

"Normally our distributions are monthly, our clients know when those are happening, this is just an additional nice surprise of fresh produce to share with the community," Alvarez said.

Azucena Wendz, a Calexico resident who works as a caregiver and crossing guard for the Calexico Unified School District, attended the distribution to gather food for her family and neighbors.

"This is a great support the food bank offers to families in the Imperial Valley," Wendz said. "Each month, we receive their blessings and support."

Wendz intends to use fresh produce items for cooking healthy recipes for her family.

Alvarez stated that a positive incentive for California growers is that they can get a 10% tax credit by donating state-grown fresh fruit and vegetables to in-state food banks.

"We're quick with helping move any produce or product that they might have," Alvarez said.

Alvarez said that residents are encouraged to register for monthly distributions, and they learn more about requirements by visiting the IVFB building, located at 486 West Aten Road in Imperial, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays.

"If you would like food assistance, come on in and we (IVFB staff) will work with you to figure out what's best for you if you qualify," Alvarez said. "You can get registered for a monthly distribution and also learn how to apply for CalFresh (food stamps)."

Alvarez stated that growers and packers, can contact Steve Sharp, a local food solicitor from the California Association of Food Banks, at (760) 497-4720 if they are interested in donating a surplus of product to the community.

For direct donations to IVFB, interested community members can contact Warehouse and Facility Manager James Taylor at (760) 370-0966.