Finding New Approaches to Ending Hunger in Madera, CA

Authors: Yolanda Contreras | Green For All Fellow Candidate My name is Yolanda Contreras and I am a Green For All Fellow Candidate, currently in my term of service. I am 26 years old, was born to Guadalupe Bautista and Nazario and was raised in a small rural town north of Fresno, surrounded by grape vines and almond orchards—Madera, CA. Despite the fact that Madera is an agricultural town, hunger is among us. Many residents suffer from food insecurity, which is why I have chosen to dedicate my term of service to building up the leadership of the Feed Madera Task Force. The population of Madera is about 56,710 and approximately 67.8% of the population is Hispanic or Latino. Unfortunately Madera has a high unemployment rate of 17.5%. I attended elementary, Jr. high, high school and some college in Madera. As I pass the years here, I continue to become more and more attached to my community and feel more driven to end hunger. Having a career as a social worker, I understand how important community partnership is. Therefore, with that in mind I work as a Hunger Campaign Coordinator in Madera Community Food Bank, and currently facilitate a Feed Madera Task Force with community leaders and churches. Feed Madera was created about two years ago, the overall objective was to brainstorm ideas on how to improve existing emergency food distribution processes while also collaborating on multiple community efforts. Several community organizations realized there were program inefficiencies in emergency food distribution for Madera Community Food Bank and we worked to correct those. Today, Feed Madera continues to be a committee, which became, Feed Madera Task Force. Feed Madera is now concentrating on building new leadership from within the community and partnering with churches and organizations to try new approaches to addressing hunger. We want Madera to be food sustainable and hunger-free. Through my work with Green For All, I am learning how important community agriculture is and the role it can play helping Madera residents to grow our own produce and keep it local. I believe that by having community gardens in our community it will make Madera sustainable. I’m the second to the oldest in a family of five siblings. The first time I heard “community garden” was when my sister who is the third to the oldest suggested a garden at home. Unfortunately, her strong willingness and belief lead her where she is now, Mexico, where she became vegan and is growing her own crops, living how her ancestors survived more than one hundred years ago. Meanwhile, I do my part here in Madera. Maybe when she comes to visit one day, she will come back to find Madera with a thriving green economy meeting the needs of ALL residents.

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