Pleasant Hill – Since November 14, White Pony Express (WPE), began sending a refrigerated truck with perishable ready-to-eat food and envelopes of donated cash daily to aid the fire victims in the Paradise area. WPE hopes to deploy its new two-room shower/toilet mobile unit to the area.
WPE intends to continue making frequent runs until there is no longer an acute need for area fire victims.
WPE volunteers Jim May and Eric Cox drove a refrigerated van with food and donations to a little-known town called Brownsville where the manager, Kathleen, has been putting up about 50 evacuees in her small motel.
“She fixes food for them in the morning and the townspeople do it in the evening. The ready-to-eat sandwiches and salads that White Pony Express brought were enough to provide them with lunches for several days. In Brownsville, we handed out envelopes of money, which is desperately needed for necessities,” May recounted.
The ready-to-eat meals come from the regular donations made daily to WPE’s Food Rescue program. These donations have been providing a substantial amount of food that is distributed by WPE to the hungry in Contra Costa County.
“Going on to Oroville, we found people camped out in parking lots. Fortunately, we were able to provide food to all of those who needed it. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of this,” May added.
These food and cash donation trips to the impacted areas are being carried out by WPE’s Food Rescue program staff and volunteers. The Food Rescue Program picks up quality surplus food each day from supermarkets, restaurants, and farmers markets and then sorts and delivers that food to shelters, churches and other facilities that feed the hungry in our communities. All of this is done free of charge. In 5 years, WPE has rescued more than 7,500,000 pounds (equivalent to about 6,300,000 meals) of fresh, nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste.
“Although we principally serve Contra Costa County, White Pony Express is most grateful to be able to send needed food to the families in the Paradise area, who are now coping with survival in the aftermath of the fires. It is important that we remember and help serve our brothers and sisters in Paradise, many of whom have lost everything,” WPE Executive Director Gary Conner said. . In the near future, WPE intends to send its Mobile Showers unit to the Paradise area.
WPE is a mostly-volunteer powered organization headquartered in Pleasant Hill but serving all of Contra Costa County and has done extraordinary service to our communities.
Most recently, WPE was chosen by California Senator Steven Glazer to be the 2018 Nonprofit of the Year within his district. WPE has also been the recipient of a number of certificates of appreciation given by elected officials for its work and achievements. In addition, WPE earned the 2018 Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. WPE has also been awarded the East Bay Leadership Council’s Outstanding Collaborative Project Award, the Sustainable Contra Costa’s Innovation in Food Systems Award and the Silver Spoon Award, by Diablo Valley Dietetic Association in honor of its work in supporting the health of those in need by providing them healthy, nutritious food. In 2015, WPE received the prestigious The San Francisco Foundation’s John R. May Innovation Award.
Carol Weyland Conner, PhD, spiritual director of Sufism Reoriented, founded WPE in September 2013 when she was troubled that in a county of such abundance, thousands were going hungry, while at the same time food retailers were throwing out huge quantities of healthy, fresh food. Her idea was to create a Food Rescue Program, where this good surplus food could be picked up directly from food retailers and delivered to local service organizations which serve those in need. Dr. Conner continues to serve as WPE’s Advisor.
Conner has been recognized as a “Local Hero” by the Contra Costa Times, named a “Visionary” in the Diablo Magazine “Threads of Hope” issue, and received the “Jefferson Award” from KPIX