Volunteers and board members of the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry rejoiced Friday afternoon as they received recognition from Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, for their efforts to fight food insecurity during the pandemic.
Valladares announced earlier this month that she had selected the organization as her Assembly district’s Nonprofit of the Year.
Following a presentation of the U.S. and California flags by members of the Golden Valley High School Air Force Junior ROTC at the SCV Food Pantry in Newhall, the assemblywoman, Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda and representatives from the offices of other local elected officials shared certificates and warm words about the local nonprofit and its director, James Espinoza.
In considering which nonprofit to honor, Valladares said her office asked “who are those that had the biggest impact to the most amount of community members at one of the most critical times and really difficult and challenging times in the lives of so many families.”
“Our Santa Clarita (Valley) Food Pantry stepped up for families and for children and I could not be more proud and more honored to recognize you as the 38th District Nonprofit of the Year,” she said.
Miranda told the SCV Food Pantry that its mission is important to the community.
“Gratefulness from the heart is how we feel,” he said on behalf of the city of Santa Clarita.
Espinoza, with his 2-year-old nephew by his side, thanked the pantry’s volunteers for their hard work.
“This isn’t much my hard work honestly as the work of volunteers,” he said. “They put their blood, sweat, tears into this place. They’ve been doing it for 35 years in this community, and we’re still going strong even with the pandemic.”
Espinoza said the pantry lost many volunteers, including regular volunteers, because of the pandemic, which also affected donations.
“We do need donations — heavily — to build a new building. We’ve outgrown this space,” he said. “It served us well since 1992. We’ve been here a long time. We patched up as best as we can, but we’ve outgrown it.”