Hope Food-Providing People With Hope, Food and Love

Written by Trevor Montgomery

Riverside County News Source

 

Walking into Hope Food is like walking into a business filled with so much more than just inexpensive food and resources for those in need. Walking into Hope Food is like walking into a business that gives away huge amounts of love at wholesale prices.

Bambi Garcia and Roxann Cruz are the heart and soul of Hope Food. The mother and daughter created the non-profit organization in 2006, when they saw a need within their community that was not being met. Ever since, Hope Food has been a true labor of love for Garcia and Cruz.

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Bambi Garcia and Roxann Cruz, the heart and soul of Hope Food

As far as the service Hope Food provides to the community, Garcia and Cruz’ efforts have been recognized both locally as well as at the state level for all the two do to help the community through Hope Food. In 2008, Maria Shriver, First Lady of California at the time, wrote about Hope Food, “I am always continuously amazed at the remarkable strength, courage and resilience of Californians across the state. I truly appreciate your genuine concerns because I’m a big believer that everyone’s voice should be heard.”

But Hope Food doesn’t just help those who rely on it’s services. Hope Food also takes in volunteers from around the community, as well as juveniles and adults who are assigned to perform community service to help make amends for their poor life choices. Hope Food also provides light duty work options for those around the community who have become injured at their regular jobs, but are required to continue working.

Many of those who start out working at Hope Food as part of a court or job requirement end up continuing to volunteer with Hope Food long after their mandated community service ends.

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About Hope Foods, Chris Williams recently said, “I was injured two years ago at work. My company set up a light duty job for me and I was assigned to work at Hope Food.”

Talking about his experience working with Hope Food, Williams said, “By the first week I realized that Hope Food was a place run by angels. I had no idea of the poverty that is invisible to the average person. When I thought of people in need, I thought of ‘bums’ and ‘pan-handlers’. I never thought of the person (who) worked 40 hours a week with three kids that just lost (their) job and Top Ramen was what was for dinner again.”

Continuing, Williams said, “My view on the typical ‘Food Bank’ has been forever changed thanks to my experience serving the community at Hope Food and I am blessed to have gotten the chance to meet (the entire staff) at Hope Food”

Regardless how people are initially led to Hope Food, Garcia and Cruz always manage to turn others into true believers in the Hope Food way of helping the community. Ask anyone who uses or volunteers for Hope Food and you will hear the same stories over and over again. One recurring theme is how nobody ever gets turned away hungry from Hope Food.

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Even those who can not afford the $35.00 donation that Hope Food requests for a typical $100.00 basket of food, never walk away without food. A typical $35 basket from Hope Food includes everything from eggs, breads, dairy products, snacks, fruits, vegetables and so much more, Garcia has even been known to have those without cash do a bit of work around the business, such as sweeping, stocking, tidying up, anything at all to justify sending those who come into Hope Food out the door with enough food to at least feed them for a few days.

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Mary Jo Bumstead recently spoke about Hope Food, saying, “Most importantly they take care of their customers. Customers leave knowing that someone cares about them.” Bumstead continued, “Roxann and Bambi treat every one of their customers like they are important. They don’t just pass out the food, they ask about the families other needs and pass on hope and love to all who come to rely on the food distribution program. They provide a quality cart of foods that most people need such as eggs, cheese, breads and pastries, juice, milk, meat, canned goods and much, much more.”

For those with special dietary restrictions, Hope Food even provides specialty baskets for vegetarians and Kosher foods.

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In trying to find people willing to speak about Hope Food I was absolutely flooded by Private Messages and E-Mails from people, both customers and supporters wanting to sing their praises for Hope Food, as well as Garcia and Cruz.

One particular letter to Hope Food from Ann Kachaturoff said everything,

Kachaturoff wrote, “I am writing you to thank you so much for your help. You have done more than you have any idea for me. I have been struggling financially for over two years now. I do bookkeeping and it was mostly for contractors. With the economy changing I lost almost everything I had.”

Kachaturoff continued, “I have struggled with the loss of jobs, the loss of my house, a change of residence, new jobs, abandonment by friends and family and now just the struggle to have enough for basics to survive. The help you have given me with food made it possible for me to do so much more with what little money I did have.”

“The first time I visited Hope Food Inc. I had only $13.00 to give you. I was practically in tears because you gave me so much. We have not had enough to eat in over a year and a half until I heard about Hope Food. At the time, I could not afford more than $20.00 of food a week and there were many weeks in a row I could not buy food at all. Hope Food changed all that for my family.”

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About her organization and all the help Hope Food provides, Garcia said, “At hope food we believe in giving people a hand up, and not a hand out. We do not work with the government. If we did we would have to ask people where they live and how much money they make. And we could end up having to turn people away because they make $5 too much. Because we don’t work with the government we don’t get any help from them. We can not buy our food from food banks. And we do not get any free food from any established government sources.”

Continuing Garcia said, “We believe at Hope Food that if you’re hungry you’re hungry. That’s why you come to Hope Food. No one gets turned away. We have a share of cost because we have to buy most of the food we provide.”

Unlike many non-profit organizations, not one single person at Hope Food takes a paycheck of any kind. Absolutely 100% of all money donated to Hope Food goes right back into Hope Food and the services they provide.

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Asked about all the help and assistance Hope Food provides those who need the help the most in the community, Garcia simply said, “It is a calling. Creating Hope Food is something I know I have been led to do. This is such a valuable resource in our valley and I can’t imagine what would happen to all those we help if we had to close our doors.”

Asked why Hope Food could potentially have to shutter it’s doors, Garcia got misty eyed and emotional and could only say that without ongoing and continued assistance from the community Hope Food would not likely be able to keep their doors open beyond the end of the year. “If we don’t get more help from the community soon…..I just don’t even want to think about what that would mean to all the families that count on the service Hope Food provides.”

If you want to visit Hope Food, they are located at 610 S State St, San Jacinto, CA 92583
(951) 654-3850. You can also visit them online at: http://www.hopefoodinc.com/

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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