On Wednesday morning, Grocery Outlet kicked off their annual ‘Independence from Hunger’ food drive for St. Anne’s Food Pantry. This is Grocery Outlet’s 10th annual drive, but it is only the second year that the Porterville Grocery Outlet has participated.

Last year, Grocery Outlet raised $5,000 through food and cash donations for St. Anne’s food pantry. This year, their goal is to raise $6,000. The Grocery Outlet corporate office has made a promise that they will match up to $1 million in donations at the end of July.

“Today is a special day,” said local Grocery Outlet owner Darwin Lara. “We are very, very grateful to have our community partners here. Today is our kick-off for Independence from Hunger. This is our 10th year, and we are very, very grateful and super excited. We can’t wait to meet our goal. And our goal this year is $6,000. To the community, we need your support to meet that goal. It will be open towards the last day of July. I know we can do it and thank you so much in advance.”

Lara’s wife, Lizbeth Lara, was in attendance for the kick-off in the Grocery Outlet store on Wednesday and shared how the community can donate to the drive.

“We have different types of donations,” said Lizbeth. “We have the food drive and we have cash donations. Hopefully we can double what we did last year. People have the opportunity to donate the bag of food. We fill watermelon bins and as it fills, St. Anne’s comes and picks it up. They take it to the food pantry and the pass it out to the people who need it. With the cash donations, at the end of July, we have the closing and we take pictures with the check for the cash that is going to St. Anne’s. Last year we had a nurse who donated $500. St. Anne’s is a well know non-profit organization so people know for sure St. Anne’s is getting what they donate.” 

George Martinez, from the Knights of Columbus and part of the staff at St. Anne’s food pantry, explained some of what the food pantry does, and how many members of the community it serves. With the pandemic the amount of use the food pantry has from the community has increased by nearly 50 percent.

“The Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Daughters have been running [St. Anne’s Food Pantry] for over ten years,” said Martinez. “We’re open two days a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays. We’re feeding about 800 families a month, 100 a day almost. We have been very fortunate because we have seen a lot of donations of food coming in from different parts of the county and even the state. Grocery Outlet is terrific for us because this is a great campaign. During the summer we don’t get as many donations so this really helps us fill that void at the food pantry. We really appreciate what Grocery Outlet does for us.” 

Porterville Mayor Martha Flores was at the kick-off with a smile that was evident, even under her mask. 

“Having been born and raised here in the City of Porterville, this is our community,” said Mayor Flores. “It belongs to each and every one of us and we have an investment. When I came over this morning, there were two words that came to my heart, and that was humility and gratitude. First and foremost, it is a beautiful momentum when there is selfless giving and there is a recipient who pays it forward unconditionally. Yes, we were restricted by many things as we move forward towards the resiliency of Porterville. We had a halt with COVID. But that never stopped the free giving of this community. It is truly an honor to be here amongst you because I know the organizations that are here have been long standing in this community. You’re selfless and we’re grateful.”

Grocery Outlet’s ‘Independence from Hunger’ food drive will be open through the end of July. For those wishing to contribute, visit the Grocery Outlet store and purchase a $5 bag of food to donate. Monetary donations are also accepted and can be made at the store, located at 50 W Olive Avenue.

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