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Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes

"Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in."
- Unknown
Bob Montague concluded his long career of volunteer service at PVLF on his 85th birthday this April.
What's Inside
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Upcoming Events

  • 15th ANNUAL EMPTY BOWLS DINNER AND AUCTION - Saturday, Sept. 15th, 5-9pm at the Lagoon House, Pajaro Dunes
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

A Legacy of Service -
Honoring Bob Montague

The PVLF community celebrated the 85th birthday and retirement of long-time PVLF volunteer Bob Montague on April 10th. He gave 18 years of service to the organization.

On April 10, 2018, over 100 lunch guests, volunteers, friends, and Board members past and present gathered at Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes to celebrate the 85th birthday and retirement of longtime volunteer Bob Montague. Kitchen Manager Maria Gonzalez and volunteers prepared pork chile verde – one of Bob’s favorite dishes – along with rice, beans, and salad. Everyone enjoyed birthday cake too!

Bob, an Aptos resident, came to PVLF in 2000 after a varied career as a farmer, banker, and appraiser, when a fellow congregant at Resurrection Catholic Church enlisted his help. Bob was familiar with Watsonville from his time working for the County of Santa Cruz, assessing damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. He understood the need for food assistance in the community and began transporting and stocking food for the pantry and kitchen weekly. Soon, Bob took on additional responsibilities, sharing his many talents and eventually volunteering full-time, five days a week.

Bob has been a key leader of the organization for the past 18 years, serving in many roles including Board President, Treasurer, interim Director, bookkeeper, tax preparer, and project manager. Throughout his tenure as a volunteer, he coordinated food acquisitions from Second Harvest Food Bank and managed our food inventory, bringing millions of pounds of food to those in need over the years. He was also our greatest ambassador, inspiring others to donate, volunteer, and serve on the Board by sharing his experiences and by his own generous example.

Bob has been a mentor, friend, and inspiration to many members of the PVLF community over the years. Kitchen Manager Maria Gonzalez calls him “Papa Bob,” as he has been encouraging and supportive of her over the years. Brooke Sampson, PVLF Executive Director 2006-08 and 2016-17, considers Bob one of her role models for how to live one’s values. “Bob is an example to us all of how to serve whole-heartedly and without judgment,” she says. “He fostered an accepting atmosphere at PVLF where everyone felt welcome and respected. One of the important lessons I learned from Bob early in my career at PVLF was that, regardless of all the things to be done, sometimes the most important thing we can do is to stop and listen to someone who just needs someone to talk to.”

Bob always made time to connect with our program participants. They know him by name and appreciate his hard work and caring heart. Many of them consider Bob a good friend, for the kindness and support he gave them during challenging times. At his birthday celebration, he received heartfelt wishes and surprise visits from people whose lives he touched over the years. One client even serenaded Bob with a soulful, solo rendition of “Happy birthday to you.”

For his leadership, his thousands of hours of volunteer work, and his outstanding example of service, Bob has been honored as a Community Hero by the United Way and a Hunger Fighter by Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County. He was also recognized by the Smart Solutions to Homelessness initiative, for his tremendous service to the homeless residents of South County. Our organization’s annual volunteer award, recognizing dedication and significant contributions to our mission and the community we serve, is named in honor of Bob.

On behalf of all those he has served and served alongside over the years, we extend our deepest gratitude to Bob. Please join us in celebrating Bob at Empty Bowls 2018 on September 15th from 5-9pm at the Lagoon House at Pajaro Dunes. He will be our guest of honor and will present the 2018 Bob Montague Volunteer Award.

Thank you, Bob!

Bob, stocking the pantry, 2008.
Bob and staff, 2008, left to right: Maria Gonzalez, Brooke (Johnson) Sampson, and Vicky Caballero.
Bob (in his famous hat!) and Kristal Caballero, 2014.
Bob and his wife and fellow PVLF volunteer, Beverly, 2015.
Bob and Consuelo unload a bread donation, 2015.
Bob and Pantry Coordinator Vicky Caballero, 2016.
A birthday hug from long-time friend Rosemary, 2018.

Save the Date!
Empty Bowls 2018
Saturday, September 15th 5-9pm

Join us for our 15th Annual Empty Bowls dinner and auction!  Since 1989, our Kitchen and Pantry Programs have provided nutritious food to the hungry people in our community. We will celebrate the generosity of our donors, volunteers, and supporters that makes our work possible.

The dinner and auction will be held Saturday, September 15th from 5 to 9pm. Pajaro Dunes Company and Pajaro Dunes North Association, our generous facilities sponsors, provide the beautiful location for this event at the Lagoon House at Pajaro Dunes Shorebirds. Each guest will select a beautiful, one-of-a-kind bowl created by a local artist especially for our event.
Attendees will enjoy live music, local beer and wine, and appetizers and dessert presented by Monterey Bay Caterers. A trio of soups and fresh salad will be prepared by Loaves and Fishes chef Maria Gonzalez and volunteer chef Patrick Sigler, with ingredients generously donated by local farms and businesses.
Enjoy a delightful evening of fine food and drink in great company, and help nourish our neighbors in need. Contact Executive Director Joann Godoy for information about sponsorship opportunities at or 831-319-4570. To purchase tickets or make a donation, visit us on the web at
Volunteers Arianna Tipton and Karen Shaffer serve appetizers at Empty Bowls, 2017.

Pantry Program Refresh

Our team has been busy over the past few months reorganizing our pantry program to improve our food storage, elevate the level of client services, and improve the volume and variety of food distributed. Our redesigned pantry office now offers more privacy for intake interviews, allowing us to serve our participants in a more dignified manner that protects client confidentiality. We have also upgraded our storage infrastructure and shelving, to help us store food safely and rotate our inventory appropriately.

Here is an overview of our pantry program, open from 9 to 11:30am and 1 to 3pm Monday through Friday year-round (including holidays) and staffed by Pantry Coordinator Jeanette Arias and community volunteers. Ours is the only pantry program distributing groceries five days a week to people in need in South County.
  • We receive over 80% of referrals for emergency food assistance from Second Harvest Food Bank’s Community Food Hotline.
  • Pantry program participants may receive food – including non-perishable staple foods, fresh produce, and bread – twice a month. Participation in our pantry program varies seasonally, increasing during the agricultural off-season (November – April) and toward the end of each month as household food budgets dwindle. On our busiest days, we provide more than 60 pantry visits.
  • Over 40% of those served through the pantry program are farm worker households.
  • We now provide 10,000 to 12,000 calories per household member per pantry visit – or about five days’ worth of nutritious meals. The nutritional content of the standard pantry bag we offer is 13% protein, 67% carbohydrate, and 20% fat.
  • We customize our pantry bags to client preferences and needs, allowing clients to select several items in addition to the standard non-perishable staples we offer, giving clients their choice of available produce and bread, and offering “ready to eat” options for clients who lack access to cooking facilities, including residents of single-room occupancy hotels and clients living in their cars or on the street.
  • We acquire food for distribution through our pantry through our partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank and donations from Food Maxx, Whole Foods, and High Ground Organics.
  • This program is a critical support for thousands of local residents, 56% of whom are children and seniors.
If you would like to volunteer in our pantry program – receiving and stocking food deliveries, packing bags, or assisting with client intake and services – please contact our Operations Manager Cecilia Cervantes at or 831-319-4571.
Special thanks to our volunteers from Community Life Services, who help keep the pantry shelves fully stocked and organized.
Feed Our Community

Honorary and Memorial Gifts

 Honor a friend or loved one with a gift to Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes.
Your donation will provide nutritious food to local community members in need, and your honoree will receive an acknowledgment by mail.

Donations can be mailed to us at 150 Second Street, Watsonville CA, 95076, or made through our website.

Volunteer Spotlight
Carmen Gagne

Carmen chops peppers in the PVLF kitchen, April, 2018.
We are recognizing Watsonville resident Carmen Gagne in this edition of the volunteer spotlight. Carmen, a recently retired PVUSD elementary school teacher, began volunteering last spring. Since last March, she has given over 350 hours of service to the organization and become a versatile member of our team. She volunteers two days a week, one day in the kitchen with Maria and the other day in the pantry with Jeanette.

In the past year, she has learned all aspects of our food assistance programs, from food prep and lunch service to pantry intake and grocery distribution. As Executive Director Joann Godoy observes, "Carmen is great at all the volunteer tasks - she can do anything! And she is willing to do whatever needs to be done."

Pantry Coordinator Jeanette Arias also praises Carmen as diligent and helpful. Jeanette says, "Carmen is a great volunteer! I enjoy working with her. She is a fast learner, and she works hard in the pantry. She is always finding things to do. She also enjoys practicing her Spanish with our clients." 

While working efficiently, Carmen makes time to chat with our program participants, both in the pantry and on the serving line. Kitchen Manager Maria Gonzalez notes that Carmen is welcoming and kind to everyone during lunch service: "she is a lovely lady with a big heart."

Carmen has become an integral member of the PVLF team in the past year. The staff greatly appreciates her dedication to our mission and her flexibility. She is the ultimate utility player, doing whatever is required to feed our neighbors in need. Thank you Carmen, for your service to our community! 

Volunteer Opportunities

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

**At this time, we especially need volunteers for early morning set-up and afternoon (1-4pm) shifts.**

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
Tues 1:00-2:30pm Receive and store weekly food delivery

Contact us for more info or to sign up to volunteer!
Contact Cecilia at 831-319-4571 or
Copyright © 2018 Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, All rights reserved.

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