NEW TRUCK TO BRING FOOD TO AREA'S POOR.
Needy people in eastern Ventura County will soon have a more direct link to the county's food bank.
Within a month, Oxnard-based Food Share expects to receive a new, refrigerated, bobtail truck from International that will allow the organization to deliver more frequently to food distribution agencies in the east county.
``Even if it's just once a month . . . oh, we'll be so grateful,'' said Pauline Saterbo, administrator of Manna, a food distribution agency that provides groceries to more than 3,500 needy people in the Conejo Valley each month.
East-county service agencies sometimes have not benefited from Food Share's goods because the organization could not always get out to them, said Jim Mangis, executive director of Food Share. The agencies themselves often had to wait to find volunteers willing to make the trek to Oxnard to make a pickup.
``It's very difficult to get volunteers to go out there,'' said Karen Ingram, vice president of Thousand Oaks' Lutheran Social Services, which serves about 350 people a month.
The new truck will be able to haul 12,000 pounds of food at a time and was purchased at a cost of about $63,000, Mangis said.
``That's the result of a whole lot of fund raising,'' he said.
East-county agencies that help feed the needy are eager for the truck to arrive at their doorsteps.
``We're looking forward to it,'' Saterbo said. ``We have only one vehicle, and it's tied up. This is going to be a real bonus for us.''
The Food Share deliveries will help restock empty shelves, said Dianne Hooley, executive director of Simi Valley's Samaritan Center, a morning drop-in shelter for the homeless.
``There'll be more of a variety of food available,'' Hooley said. ``I just think it will enhance what we've already been doing.''
The new truck will also help improve communication between the agencies by letting Food Share know what the needs of the smaller pantries are, Ingram said.
``When we don't have it, they don't always know about it,'' she said.
Lutheran Social Services has not had a delivery from Food Share for a few months, Ingram said.
``We're looking forward to regular delivery times,'' she said. ``There was some talk initially of a couple of times a month, maybe more.''
Even with more deliveries headed to the east county, agencies do not believe they will be too much of a drain on Food Share's resources.