The Catholic Charities Rural Outreach Program is vital in fulfilling our mission to serve all those in need throughout the 8-county, 35,239 square miles of the Diocese of Fresno – especially those who cannot come to one of our brick and mortar sites in Fresno, Merced and Bakersfield.
Our Rural Outreach Program here is Merced is focused on serving the most impoverished and food insecure areas in all of rural Merced County. Through parish relationships, Catholic Charities has been able to build trust with migrant farm workers and low-income families living within these rural areas to execute targeted food distribution events. Using census data and a heat map (which highlights areas below 50% of adequate food distribution needs), we’ve identified Catholic parishes, churches and missions whose communities are most vulnerable based upon population size, income and current food distribution available.
The distinction of these events compared to others include both trust and culturally sensitive food items that are being distributed. At the launch of this program, it was important that we weren’t giving food away that these families couldn’t use and we made a dedicated effort to source culturally sensitive food items for that purpose. Meal boxes distributed through our Rural Outreach Program include rice, beans, vegetable oil, salt, tortillas, maseca, chicken and donated fresh fruits and vegetables. It is enough food to sustain a family for approximately one week.
In the last year alone, this program has served over 12,000 individuals throughout Merced County in the communities of Planada, Atwater, Dos Palos, Los Banos and more.