TURLOCK, Calif. (KTXL) — Brook Baltazar is one of dozens of kids getting hands-on agricultural training as part of the Westside Ministries Food Literacy Program in Turlock.
“This week, we’ve been out here every day at 8 a.m. just harvesting and picking the weeds,” Brook said.
Founder Dr. JoLynn DiGrazia started the food literacy program at her church with her husband 22 years ago.
“Starting kids as small children so they have an appreciation of growing plants and understanding a little bit more where their food comes from,” said Joseph DiGrazia.
The church group entered to win $100,000 through the National Kubota Tractor Corporations’ Hometown Proud grant program.
Out of 400 applicants, they were one of the top five and the only finalists on the West Coast.
The DiGrazias say winning the competition would allow them to improve their kitchen operation and buy a new tractor to grow more food.
“We’ve needed a tractor for years, and it’s always been outside of our reach. This would totally be a game-changer,” JoLynn DiGrazia said.
The fresh produce the children grow in the garden and at their farm does not go to waste. In fact, it’s served right back to their community.
“So, before COVID, we had 100 people, approximately, coming in, eating every night a free meal. During COVID, we boxed those things up, people drove through and got those meals. So, folks can come and eat a farm-fresh meal,” JoLynn DiGrazia said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
“It feels really good to, like, give back to our community because like a lot of people don’t eat around here,” Brook said.
The church group is asking the community to help them so they can feed more families.
“We’re just calling on the people to vote. Keep that vote going until June 25,” Joseph DiGrazia said.
At last check, Westside Ministries is leading the competition by just 32 votes, with 13,732 entries, but voting does not end until June 25.