ORANGE COVE, CALIF. — At least 6,000 people lined up this weekend when local businesses and a church gave food to residents who lost jobs after freezing temperatures earlier this month destroyed an estimated $1 billion in California produce.
The event Saturday, organized by Fresno's Cornerstone Church, Orange Cove Mayor Victor Lopez, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino and other businesses, sent more than 200 tons of food home with local families.
Each box contained a 5-pound bag of potatoes, a case of fruit juice, frozen vegetables, chicken, bread, beans, rice and milk.
"We don't want it to be viewed as a handout," said Jim Franklin, senior pastor at Cornerstone Church.
"They feed us during the year. Now that they have hit hard times, we want to feed them."
Orange Cove, a Central Valley town of about 10,000 near Fresno, was particularly hard-hit by more than a week of freezing temperatures beginning Jan. 12.
Lorenzo Vasquez, who joined the line at 6 a.m., is picking the last of the oranges that survived the freeze, but he's worried about how he will support his family. His hours were cut earlier this month and his boss told him his work could end anytime.
"You don't have enough money to buy the things you need," he said.