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Tea Party Collects Food for West Side Farm Workers

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday afternoon's event was initially organized to collect donated items for those in need on the West Side. But, many took the opportunity to tell lawmakers that what they really need, is water.

A caravan containing food and clothing arrived at the Fresno Fairgrounds Sunday, where more than 200 people were on hand to say, thank you.

"So I want to thank you for being here, for continuing to fight."

Among the crowd was Jim Walls, a West Side farmer who has been forced to lay off more than 20 employees.

"While we're participating not so much politics, but there's an immediate need for the families on the west side that are struggling."

The Central Valley Tea Party organized the event.

For weeks, tea party groups across the country have been collecting money, clothing and food, specifically for farm workers in the Central Valley.

But people at Sunday's event, including Valley Congressman Devin Nunes, were less interested in donations, focusing more on urging Congress to give West Side farmers some immediate relief from a three year drought and pumping regulations.

"It's unacceptable that in America and a democracy, the largest and most successful democracy in the world, that the people who pick the food have to wait in line for food because their government decided to shut off their water and kill their job."

Earlier this month, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a comprehensive water bill, that will in part, launch a major restoration project for the Delta.

But many on the West Side say, that relief won't come soon enough.

The latest numbers show Firebaugh's unemployment rate at more than 26-percent, Huron at more than 36-percent and Mendota at more than 39-percent.

"Given that water is uncertain for next year, I think we're facing another year of hardships, unless we do something right away."

A representative with the Latino Water Coalition told me earlier today that they appreciate the tea party's efforts, as well as others in the community, including other lawmakers who have also shown their support.

The items donated today will be distributed over the next couple of weeks.

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Tags:
west valley, fresno county, fresno, california water, local, shannon handy
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