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Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?'"
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In the above photograph, taken by longtime PVLF volunteer Bob Fitch in 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leads a march to integrate Mississippi schools.
Photo used with permission from the Bob Fitch Photography Archive at Stanford University
What's Inside
Make a Gift
Upcoming Events

  • SAVE THE DATE! Chef Jesse Plasencia's Pop-Up Dinner to Benefit PVLF at El Alteño Restaurant in downtown Watsonville - Thursday, June 1st
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
Local high school students Vanessa (left) and Joycelyn (right) volunteered at PVLF on the National Day of Service and over their winter break.

Volunteers Honor MLK with Day of Service

On Monday, January 16th, seventeen volunteers, including eleven teens from local schools, honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy by participating in the National Day of Service at Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes. They stocked the food pantry, prepared bags of staple foods and fresh produce and bread for distribution during 28 pantry client visits, and helped prepare and serve over 130 lunches.

For several of the students, the day concluded a few weeks of service during their winter break. We appreciate our local youth sharing their time and energy with us.

This month, we posted the above quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on our volunteer board, as a reminder that service is an integral part of life, not just a holiday pastime. We extend our gratitude to all the volunteers that support our work every weekday throughout the year.
Eleven local youth assisted us on the MLK National Day of Service, including Kyanna and Jocelin (left and center) from Watsonville High School and Krista (right) from Moreland Notre Dame.

Meeting the Need:
Pantry Visits and Lunches Served, 2007-16

Since 1989, Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes has served local community members struggling with hunger, providing bags of groceries and hot meals every Monday through Friday. In the past ten years, we saw pantry visits more than double at the peak of the recession, while the number of lunches served annually increased by an additional almost 12,000 meals. We are just beginning to see the impact of increased employment in the Pajaro Valley - a leveling off in the need for food assistance. 

While we have always kept the doors open and served all those seeking aid, there were times when we did not have the resources to provide as much food as we would have liked. At the height of the recession, due to skyrocketing food costs, pantry program clients residing outside our designated Pajaro Valley service area were limited to one pantry visit per month. (Note: There has never been a limit on participation in the lunch program.) Effective January 1st, we reinstated our policy of two pantry visits per month for all pantry client households. This past year, we also partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County to source USDA commodity foods free of charge for distribution through our pantry, allowing us to provide food for 12 additional meals during each pantry visit for a family of four.

We are focusing on quality as well as quantity. We are purchasing protein foods such as eggs and meat to increase the nutritional quality of our lunches, thanks to generous donations received during our annual Empty Bowls event auction. We are also able to pick up an additional 200 - 300 pounds of organic produce every week from long-time donor Live Earth Farm, now that we have a new agency pick-up truck.

Thank you all for your support of our work. Your gifts of food and funds help us to meet the continued need for our services.
Feed Our Community

Honorary and Memorial Gifts

In Memory
Stella Scurich by Jane & Michael Scurich 

PVLF Welcomes New Board Members from Driscoll's

Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes is proud to welcome three new Board members, all employees of Driscoll's.

Arnulfo Figueroa was born and raised in Watsonville, where he still lives with his wife Jennifer and one-year-old son, Enzo. He has a degree in Horticulture from Cabrillo College and works as a Greenhouse Grower Supervisor in Research & Development for Driscoll's. At home, he enjoys raising goats, turkeys, and chickens and caring for his succulent and cactus garden.

Casey Wu is also a Watsonville native and resident. He received his Bachelor's degree in Business Economics from UC Santa Cruz with honors. Casey is a Certified Public Accountant with past work experience as an auditor. He works for Driscoll's as Senior Manager, Accounting Policy and Compliance.

Louise Buckingham is the Senior Legal Manager, Intellectual Property at Driscoll's. She is also a lecturer at San Jose State University, where she teaches about human rights in the Department of Justice Studies. In addition, she occasionally serves as a mediator for the San Francisco Office of Citizens Complaints. Louise holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Laws, and a Masters of Law from the University of Sydney, Australia, and a Masters of Sciences in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales. She has worked in the law in the not-for-profit, charitable, corporate, and government sectors. She and her husband and children moved to California from Sydney three years ago. They live in Scotts Valley.

We thank Arnulfo, Casey, and Louise for sharing their time and expertise with our organization!

We are #notyourordinarysoupkitchen

Follow PVLF on Instagram @pvloavesandfishes

Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes is a small organization with a big mission! Open five days a week to serve those in need, we are the largest emergency food provider in Santa Cruz County, receiving 80% of referrals from Second Harvest Food Bank's Community Food Hotline. 

There is a lot going on at 150 2nd Street every weekday to ensure the food needs of low income Pajaro Valley residents are met. Follow us on Instagram to see what's happening, who's volunteering, and what we are serving for lunch!

You can find us @pvloavesandfishes on Instagram, often proudly tagging our food photos with the hashtag #notyourordinarysoupkitchen.
Some recent posts on our Instagram account, clockwise from top left: Maria preparing pozole from scratch, chicken enchiladas, volunteer Angeli in her festive holiday outfit (including a hat she made), the Kohl's Cares team from the Capitola store serving lunch, and two nopal cacti recently planted in our garden by client volunteers Don Santiago and Don Arturo.

Volunteer Spotlight
Jorge Torres

Jorge Torres washes dishes and trays during lunch service.
Jorge Torres joined the Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes team at the beginning of last September. He assists in our kitchen program three days a week, as a participant in the Peninsula Family Services employment training program for low-income seniors. Jorge sets up and cleans up out outdoor dining area, helps with meal preparation, and washes the many dishes and trays it takes to feed over 120 people daily.

Kitchen Manager Maria Gonzalez really appreciates Jorge's work ethic and positive attitude. "He's very responsible and hardworking," she says. Fellow volunteer Ralph Cistaro adds, "Jorge is not only a steady hard worker, but he brings a sense of humor to the job, which is really refreshing. He's a good man."

In his months at PVLF, Jorge has become a key volunteer. He is efficient at completing his tasks when working independently and is also a great lead volunteer. He has helped to train new volunteers, including many of the youth volunteers that participate in our programs through on-going service projects and during school breaks. He is patient, encouraging, and appreciative of his fellow volunteers.

When we first met Jorge, he shared that he has been eight years sober and is an active participant in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Watsonville. He said he wanted an opportunity to "give to people in need, show them we care, and help them have a good day and a good start back in life."

Jorge has certainly lived up to his intentions. He greets our clients kindly and chats with them when they bring their place settings to the dish washing station. Many of them now know him by name and smile when they see him. Jorge feels good about being a part of the PVLF community. "I really enjoy helping the homeless people and the people in AA that we serve here," he says.

We thank Jorge for his hard work and dedication to those we serve. It is truly a joy to have him on our team.

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


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

Operations & Facilities
Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:00pm
Second Harvest Pick-Up and Delivery
Tues / Thurs 8:00am-9:00am: Select produce from warehouse and unload
Tues 1:00pm-2:00pm: Receive delivery at Loaves and Fishes

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

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