The Fresno State campus is surrounded by a diverse community that is currently experiencing high rates of poverty. Organizations on campus have devoted time to helping area families.
“Fresno State is doing a good thing,” said Ronnie Louis, 56, a resident of the community near El Dorado Park, located on the corner of Barstow Avenue and N. Fourth Street.
Fresno State’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the Associated Students, Inc., partnered with Wesley United Methodist Church to hold food distributions at El Dorado Park.
The food pantry manager at Wesley United, Paula Belden, said the church has been partnering with Pi Kappa Alpha for many years.
“They paid for all the groceries and provided the volunteers to bag the produce, sort cans, put all kinds of different items in a paper bag so that each family gets cereal, pasta, canned goods, crackers and a whole variety of things,” Belden said.
Kinesiology-sport administration student and president of Pi Kappa Alpha, Bronson Booth, said the fraternity started packaging the food at 9 a.m. Friday and was at the church from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. handing out food.
Pi Kappa Alpha has been doing these food distributions almost every month for the past five or six years, along with revitalization of the community, Booth said.
“We started a revitalization program of Fresno State and this community, so like around Sierra Madre and around Wesley church and Barstow,” Booth said.
Belden said that this distribution was different because fresh chicken was given away along with fresh produce, and she said having fresh and healthy food to give was very important for the families.
“We give away 200 bags a month—basically 50 bags a week—and this is in addition to what we do,” Belden said. “Today we prepared for 96 families.”
A list of 96 families in the community surrounding El Dorado Park and the church was made to receive the food, but not all 96 bags were given away, Booth said.
Booth said the food distributions along with the revitalization efforts were important to the families that live in the community.
“Since I’ve come to Fresno State, there’s been a lot of renovations that I’ve seen,” Booth said. “There’s been a lot of life projects that have gotten built up over there by Bulldog Lane.”
Some families went up to Booth and thanked and blessed him for the food and were very grateful for the things that the fraternity and the church had done, Booth said.
“A lot of people know us, and a lot of people really appreciate it and that’s exactly why we do community service,” Booth said. “The people really need it and actually appreciate the value of it.”
Louis said he has gone to the food distributions many times since he’s moved into the area.
“I love it,” Louis said. “I love to eat, and I need the extra food. I got children, so when they come over to my house, I make sure that I have plenty of everything.”
Louis said he was very grateful to the church and the fraternity for the food distributions.
“This is very good for the community,” Louis said. “There should be more [distributions] like this.”
Belden said that another food distribution had been scheduled for April 8.