¿Qué Pasa?

Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes

"Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.'"
- the Dalai Lama
Long-time PVLF volunteer Ralph Cistaro (left) was honored as Hunger Fighter of the Year by our partner Second Harvest Food Bank on March 8th. He is pictured above at the ceremony with friend and fellow PVLF volunteer Chef Patrick Sigler.
What's Inside
Make a Gift
Upcoming Events

  • JOIN US! Community Reception at Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes - Thursday, May 11th, 5:00-7:30pm RSVP at
  • SAVE THE DATE! Chef Jesse Plasencia's Pop-Up Dinner to Benefit PVLF at El Alteño Restaurant in downtown Watsonville - Thursday, June 1st Tickets are $60 each and are now available at
Wish List

  • Hygiene Kit Items: New Pairs of Socks, Razors, Soap, Toothbrushes, and Toothpaste
  • Needed Foods:
    • Canned Chili, Stews, and Soups 
    • Ready-to-eat and pop-top canned goods
    • Protein bars
Junior high students from the Watsonville Charter School of the Arts volunteer weekly,
accompanied by parent chaperone Rebecca.

Growing a Healthy Community

After the abundant rains this winter, it is wonderful to see some sunshine as the days lengthen. While we welcome spring this month, our local farm worker families continue to struggle to put food on the table. March is one of our busiest months of the year: after months out of work, agricultural workers have depleted their savings and are eagerly awaiting their return to employment. Our food pantry and lunch programs help sustain them until seasonal employment begins. We strive to ensure that the people who feed us have enough nutritious food to feed themselves and their families as well.

We work year-round to ensure that the emergency and daily food needs of our community are met, providing hearty, healthy lunches and nutritionally well-balanced bags of groceries. We offer nourishment in a welcoming environment that nurtures connection and fosters community as well. Program participants connect with friends and neighbors and PVLF staff and volunteers, enjoying fellowship and receiving needed support. 

Every day, we strive to live our shared values of service, compassion, and justice as we provide food assistance to our neighbors in need. We also involve the next generation in our efforts through service learning partnerships, to teach students about how hunger and poverty impact the lives of many in our community and promote an ethic of community service. We have been happy to host several school and college groups this month, including university students dedicating themselves to service during an "alternative spring break." We appreciate their help today, and hope that their experiences here will help inspire a life-long commitment to service.   


Above (from top): Students from Cabrillo College, Notre Dame de Namur University, and CEIBA College Preparatory Academy volunteered in our pantry and lunch programs this month. 
Grow a Healthy Community
Pictured above (clockwise from top left) are CET trainees Cecilia Cervantes, Maria Genis, Eduardo Gallegos, and Gabriel Gonzalez.

PVLF Welcomes
Center for Employment Training
Job Trainees

We are partnering with the Center for Employment Training (CET) of Watsonville to provide temporary jobs to agricultural workers and other local residents facing unemployment. The trainees will be working at PVLF five days a week for up to a year.

We recruited PVLF program participants and volunteers to work with us through this training program. We are proud to welcome four trainees to our team: Gabriel Gonzalez, Maria Genis, Eduardo Gallegos, and Cecilia Cervantes. They are assisting Kitchen Manager Maria Gonzalez five days a week, helping to prepare and serve meals, wash and sanitize dishes, and clean and maintain our dining facility.

The trainees have quickly integrated into our kitchen team and are helping our lunch program run smoothly every day. It is a huge help for us to have some daily volunteers, and, in turn, the trainees have an opportunity to learn new job skills, build their resumes, and explore a career in food service. We thank CET for partnering with us through this program.

Honorary and Memorial Gifts

In Memory
Ann Antos by Bob & Kathy Allison
Maria Luisa Ortega by Rudy Ortega

In Honor
Lin Colavin by Marsha Zeitlin

Chef Jesse Plasencia to Host
El Alteño Benefit Dinner on June 1st

Chef Jesse Plasencia - Executive Chef of The Pacheco Club in Monterey, California - grew up in Watsonville. In 2004, he relocated back to our community after 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he completed his studies and built his career in the culinary field. Wanting to contribute to his community, he began volunteering with Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes as a member of the Board of Directors in 2007.

In 2009, inspired by fun and inventive pop-up benefit dinners he had attended in the Mission District of San Francisco, Chef Jesse solicited donated space at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Watsonville. He organized the first “El Alteño Benefit Dinner” to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes. That year Chef Jonathan Miller came on board to help; other local chefs have contributed to subsequent dinners.  Chef Jesse would love to have even more chefs volunteer, to help raise the bar on culinary creativity and continue raising awareness and support for Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes.

The benefit dinner is made possible by the generous support of our local community. Food donations from local farmers and businesses reduce costs, and local wines are featured. Chefs and volunteers begin preparing the food for the dinner two days prior to the benefit and the use of a mobile walk-in refrigerator is donated by the City of Watsonville, for storage of prepped food.  On the day of the event, the front- and back-of-the-house volunteer staff is primarily composed of committed PVLF supporters and City of Watsonville employees.

We offer two seating times and sell 200 tickets, for dine-in or take-out.  The dinner includes a choice of two salads and three entrées – this year, pan-seared salmon, local vegetable lasagna, and roasted bone-in rack of pork.  In addition, we sell delicious hand crafted appetizers and desserts!  We encourage generous tipping, as all food and gratuity proceeds benefit our food pantry and lunch programs, serving local families and individuals struggling with hunger.
We thank the owners of El Alteño for generously donating the beautiful restaurant space again this year. We hope you will join us Thursday, June 1st for this year’s benefit dinner!

Tickets (including salad and entrée) are $60 and are available online at
Buy Tickets

Join Us May 11th!
Volunteer and Donor Appreciation Reception

A Celebration of the Donors and Volunteers
that Make Our Work Possible
Thursday, May 11, 2017
5:00 - 7:30pm
Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes
150 Second Street
We are proud to be a community-supported organization. It is the generous support and service of hundreds of donors and volunteers that makes our work possible. In appreciation for your dedication to our mission, we invite you to a celebration of our vibrant and diverse Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes community.

Please join us for an evening of delicious appetizers, wine, and fellowship.

Please RSVP online by April 28th. 

We hope to see you!

Check Out Who Supports Us @pvloavesandfishes

Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes is grateful for our many supporters who share their time and talents with us in numerous, creative ways. Follow us on Instagram @pvloavesandfishes to get better acquainted with our PVLF community!

Here are a few highlights from the past month:

"Thank you to Audie and all the volunteers of St. John's Helpful Shop for your hard work throughout the year to make these generous grants possible!"

"Ceramic artist and Santa Cruz Adult School teacher George Dymesich and his students are crafting beautiful "empty bowls" for our annual event this September. They are wedging, throwing, drying, trimming, and decorating 86 handcrafted pieces. We thank George, our Board member Lin, and the 30 participating artists. We truly appreciate your support!"

"Our Pantry volunteer Dee Takemoto (pictured right) and and her friend Judy Atwel made felt hand puppets for some of the children we serve. Dee and Executive Director Brooke Sampson display three puppets here."

"Jim Tucker (pictured) and his team at Seascape Village Fitness and Physical Therapy challenged their members to lose a total of 275 pounds over 3 months to raise money for PVLF through their annual Food for Fat Exchange. They exceeded their collective weight loss goal and raised $600 to support our food assistance programs. Congratulations to all the participants, and thank you for your support!"

Volunteer Spotlight
Max Simecek

Pantry Volunteer Max Simecek, pictured with Maura Leonor,
his Employment and Independent Living Specialist.

Local resident Max Simecek volunteers weekly at PVLF, stocking the pantry shelves and packing bags and boxes full of non-perishable food for distribution to the households we serve. He is accompanied by his Employment and Independent Living Specialist, Maura Leonor, from Community Life Services, a local non-profit organization that advances community support and opportunities for people with disabilities. The vision of Community Life Services is to support people and relationships, build strong communities where people are respected and valued as contributing citizens, and to break down barriers that stand in the way of full community participation and inclusion.

Maura works with Max to help him develop employment and life skills tailored to his goals. Max's shifts at PVLF are an opportunity for him to develop job and communications skills and to socialize with diverse members of our community. Volunteering here gives him a chance "to gain experience in dealing with different situations," Maura explains. She uses Max's interactions with different personalities as teaching moments.

Max's work in the pantry also gives him an opportunity to further develop his strengths, including organization and precision. Maura's presence helps Max to feel comfortable and communicate with staff and fellow volunteers. She also gives him space to work independently and gain skills on his own. He is very self-motivated and always stocks all the shelves by the end of his shift (see photo below). "Max is a great volunteer and really nice guy. He always leaves the pantry full!" says Jeanette Arias, Pantry Coordinator.

Max and Maura like coming to PVLF because it is "a place to give back to the community and help people in need," Maura says. "We encounter community members here and see a part of our community that many people don't acknowledge." Volunteering here gives Max a chance to feel comfortable around community members who are struggling with hunger, homelessness, and mental illness and "see how he can give back, not turn away."

We thank Max for his excellent work in service to our community and extend our gratitude to Maura and the team at Community Life Services for working to make our community a more inclusive and caring place for all.
Max always leaves the pantry well-stocked and beautifully organized.

Volunteer Opportunities

Turn your compassion into action.
Take a look at our opportunities and find where you can help!

Pantry Assistants
Mon-Fri  9:00am-11:30am


Kitchen Assistants
Mon-Fri 9:00am - 11:00am
1:00pm -  4:00pm

We especially need help during afternoon shifts.

Lunch Service
Mon-Fri 11:30am -1:30pm

Operations & Facilities
Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:00pm
Pick-Up and Delivery of Food Donations
Tues / Thurs 8:00am-9:00am: Select produce from Second Harvest warehouse and unload at Loaves and Fishes
Tues 1:00pm-2:00pm: Receive and store Second Harvest delivery at Loaves and Fishes
We also need a volunteer to pick up weekly donations at Whole Foods in Santa Cruz and deliver them to PVLF (Monday mornings).

Contact us for more info or to sign up to volunteer!
Copyright © 2017 Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp