Saturday, June 24, 2023

Food for People Starting a New Chapter

Posted By on Sat, Jun 24, 2023 at 2:33 PM

Retiring Food for People Executive Director Anne Holcomb and incoming Executive Director Carly Robbins. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Retiring Food for People Executive Director Anne Holcomb and incoming Executive Director Carly Robbins.
After weathering a devastating flood at its main building in 2020 amid a surge in need for the nonprofit’s services during the pandemic, Food for People is entering a new chapter with the upcoming retirement of longtime executive Anne Holcomb, the welcoming of longtime Development Director Carly Robbins to the role and the opening of a new building.

On Sunday, the public is invited to tour the new warehouse facility located at 307 W 14th St. from 1 to 5 p.m.

For 22 years, Holcomb has guided Food for People, aiding in the development of new programs to reach those in need in a vast and diverse community, ranging from the Backpacks for Kids weekend hunger relief program and mobile pantry services for rural areas to free produce markets and an expanded network of food pantries.

“I would like to thank the staff and volunteers and the hundreds of partners both locally and statewide who have shared their resources, compassion and grace over the years in support of our friends and neighbors,” Holcomb said in a news release. “I have found such incredible inspiration from meeting so many people who have shared their stories of how Food for People helped them at a critical time, and how happy they are to be in a position to ‘pay it forward’ as volunteers and donors. This is the spirit that will keep Food for People strong and resilient into the future.”

As the pandemic brought a new wave of community members relying on the nonprofit for a helping hand, rising inflation is doing the same, according to the nonprofit, which serves 12,000 individuals a month through a network of 17 food pantries and other services, including the child and senior nutrition programs.

The official food bank of Humboldt County has also been there when natural disasters have struck the region, including the devastating magnitude 6.4 earthquake on Dec. 20 and New Year’s Day 5.4 that hit the small town of Rio Dell particularly hard.

“As I quickly learned, when I started eight years ago, even among other food banks, Food for People is unique, and I would say, exceptional. Many food banks function solely on a bulk level — collecting, inventorying, and storing food to be distributed to partner agencies,” Robbins said. “The direct distribution of food is typically done by others, but Food for People does it all. We do the typical food banking, providing food to our network of hard-working food pantries and partners, and we also provide direct service with our staff offering one-on-one connections with people, listening to their stories and offering a warm smile with dignity and respect.”

For more information on how to help Food for People, visit its website here.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Mangoes and Agave in the Central Valley? California Farmers Try New Crops to Cope with Climate Change

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2023 at 11:19 AM

Gary Gragg examines buds on one of the mango plants he's growing in the Sacramento Valley. - PHOTO BY RAHUL LAL, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters
  • Gary Gragg examines buds on one of the mango plants he's growing in the Sacramento Valley.
In a world of worsening heatwaves, flooding, drought, glacial melting, megafires and other calamities of a changing climate, Gary Gragg is an optimist.

As California warms, Gragg — a nurseryman, micro-scale farmer and tropical fruit enthusiast — looks forward to the day that he can grow and sell mangoes in Northern California. 

“I’ve been banking on this since I was 10 years old and first heard about global warming,” said Gragg, 54, who has planted several mango trees, among other subtropical trees, in his orchard about 25 miles west of Sacramento. 

Gragg’s little orchard might be the continent’s northernmost grove of mangoes, which normally are grown in places like Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. 

Northern California’s climate, he said, is becoming increasingly suitable for heat-loving, frost-sensitive mango trees, as well as avocados, cherimoyas and tropical palms, a specialty of his plant nursery Golden Gate Palms

“Climate change isn’t all bad,” Gragg said. “People almost never talk about the positives of global warming, but there will be winners and losers everywhere.”

Mangoes may never become a mainstream crop in the northern half of California, but change is undoubtedly coming. Hustling to adapt, farmers around the state are experimenting with new, more sustainable crops and varieties bred to better tolerate drought, heat, humidity and other elements of the increasingly unruly climate.

In the Central Valley, farmers are investing in avocados, which are traditionally planted farther south, and agave, a drought-resistant succulent grown in Mexico to make tequila.

In Santa Cruz, one grower is trying a tropical exotic, lucuma, that is native to South American regions with mild winters. Others are growing tropical dragonfruit from the Central Coast down to San Diego.

Some Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries have planted new vineyards in cooler coastal hills and valleys to escape the extreme heat of inland areas. And several Bay Area farmers have planted yangmei, a delicacy in China that can resist blights that ravage peaches and other popular California crops during rainy springs. 

“People almost never talk about the positives of global warming, but there will be winners and losers everywhere.”

Gary Gragg, Sacramento Valley farmer

Near the town of Linden, farmer Mike Machado, who served in the state Assembly and Senate from 1994 to 2008, is one of many growers in the arid San Joaquin Valley who have replaced some stone fruit and nut trees with olives, historically a minor California crop mostly produced in Mediterranean nations. 

“We’re adjusting for survival,” Machado said.

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Friday, May 5, 2023

Campground Restaurant Fire Causes $100k in Damage

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2023 at 11:45 AM

The May 4 fire at the Campground restaurant in Arcata. - ARCATA FIRE DISTRICT
  • Arcata Fire District
  • The May 4 fire at the Campground restaurant in Arcata.
A vent fire at the Campground restaurant in Arcata broke out around 9:45 p.m. yesterday, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage, according to the Arcata Fire District.

When firefighters arrived at the three-story building located just off the Arcata Plaza, they found smoke and flames emitting from the roof ventilation fan, and fire in the kitchen area of the restaurant.

Arcata Fire credited restaurant staff with doing “an excellent job of evacuating patrons from the restaurant before firefighters arrived on scene.” Responding units began “evacuating the remainder of the structure and looking for extension of the fire throughout the building."

No injuries were reported by Arcata Fire.

“The fire was reported to be accidental due to the hood ventilation system having a buildup of grease that had ignited,” the release states. “The extinguishing system held the fire in check and slowed the spread.”

Humboldt Bay Fire, Blue Lake Volunteer. Fire, Fieldbrook Volunteer. Fire, Westhaven Volunteer. Fire, Samoa Volunteer. Fire and Kneeland Volunteer. Fire provided mutual aid during the incident.

 Find the Arcata Fire release below:

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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

California Bills to Expand State Tax Credits Could send $1 Billion to Low-income Families

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2023 at 12:49 PM

Isaias Hernandez, executive director of the Eastmont Community Center, helps a person with their taxes during a free tax preparation event at the Nakoak Community Center in Gardena on April 1, 2023. - PHOTO BY PABLO UNZUETA FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters
  • Isaias Hernandez, executive director of the Eastmont Community Center, helps a person with their taxes during a free tax preparation event at the Nakoak Community Center in Gardena on April 1, 2023.
When Reyna Bonilla lost her job cleaning hotel rooms in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, she used tax credits and other pandemic relief to chip away at past-due rent so she and her two children could stay in their Koreatown apartment in Los Angeles.  

This year things are different. Bonilla cleans homes a few days a week but only makes about $10,000 a year. Most of her pandemic aid has phased out, so she struggles to keep up with expenses.

Add to that, her youngest child turned 6 in November, making Bonilla ineligible for California’s Young Child Tax Credit. Her tax refund will be $1,083 less this year, squeezing her already tight budget.

“Sometimes I say I’m going to save money and I start saving,” she said, “but the prices go up and I can’t do it anymore.”  

Advocates say California’s tax credits are more crucial now, as low-income families like Bonilla’s struggle to financially recover from the pandemic as other government relief programs end.

For instance, the federal government in 2020 expanded its tax credits to send advanced monthly payments to low-income families with children and, for the first time, included very low-income earners. It helped cut child poverty, but the federal credit expansion ended in December 2021. 

Democratic Assemblymembers Mike Gipson of Gardena and Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles recently authored two bills that would expand California’s Earned Income Tax Credit and its Young Child Tax Credit

Combined the bills would cost about $1.1 billion annually, in a year the state is predicting a $22.5 billion to $25 billion deficit.

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Monday, December 26, 2022

OES: Earthquake Resources, Help Available for Residents, Businesses. Rio Dell Remains Under Boil Advisory.

Posted By on Mon, Dec 26, 2022 at 11:35 AM

As recovery from Dec. 20's magnitude-6.4 earthquake continues, especially in the hard-hit Eel River Valley, an emergency shelter remains open and resources, including food and water distributions, are ongoing this week, according to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services

OES has put together a list of available services for those affected. The list, copied in its entirety below, also includes information on cleanup assistance and business support, and how those unaffected by the quake can donate to organizations helping those in need.

Find the OES release below:

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Thursday, December 22, 2022

Local Commercial Crab Season Opener is Set

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2022 at 6:18 PM

It's finally happening. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • It's finally happening.
Get the butter ready, the crab is coming.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today that the Dungeness commercial season opener for Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties is now set for Dec. 31 at 12:01 a.m., with a 64-hour gear setting period that will begin at 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28.

The local commercial season had been delayed due to poor meat quality.

Find the CDFW release here
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Food for People Food Distribution Events Happening Today

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2022 at 9:21 AM

A food distribution in hard hit Rio Dell. - COURTESY OF FOOD FOR PEOPLE
  • Courtesy of Food for People
  • A food distribution in hard hit Rio Dell.
Food for People is holding an emergency food distribution of nonperishable pantry stables today from noon to 2 p.m. in Fortuna for those who lost food due to the earthquake and power outage.

It will take place at Gene Lucas Center parking lot located at 3000 Newburg Road.

Scheduled mobile pop-up distributions will also take place in Blue Lake from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Community Resource Center located at 111 Greenwood Ave. and in Weitchpec from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Yurok Tribal Office.

The nonprofit's Eureka Choice Pantry will also have extended hours today, from 10:30 a.m.  to 4 p.m., at 1720 10th St.

For more information on other distributions this week, including in Arcata, McKinleyville, and Garberville, visit

On Wednesday, Food for People partnered with the Rio Dell Family Resource Center to distribute water, food boxes, and ready-to-eat meal kits to 225 households in Rio Dell, which bore the brunt of Tuesday's magnitude-6.4  earthquake.

"Nearly everyone served were without water or power and many had experienced extensive food loss as well as structural and material damages at their homes," a news release states. "

For more information about Food for People's many programs or to support the food bank visit or call (707) 445-3166.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Quake Update: State of Emergency Declared, Two Dead, A Dozen Injured, Shelter Opened in Fortuna, State Funds for Fernbridge and Boil Water Advisories

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2022 at 5:33 PM

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal has declared a state of emergency in response to this morning’s magnitude-6.4 earthquake, which left two dead and potentially hundreds displaced while severely damaging Fernbridge.

According to a news release, the declaration allows "the county to seek state and federal reimbursement for damage repairs and other associated impacts. The amount of funding depends on the agencies that assist, including the state of California and federal government."

An overnight shelter has been established by the American Red Cross-Gold Country Region in Fortuna at the Rohner Park Firemen’s Pavilion for those displaced by this morning’s magnitude-6.4 earthquake.

The shelter, located at 9 Park Street, will provide accommodations, meals, water and earthquake information. For more details, contact (707) 506-5083. Meanwhile, a boil water advisory remains in effect for hard-hit Rio Dell and Fortuna due to damaged water infrastructure.

Residents in Rio Dell and the Forest Hills Subdivision, including Forest Hills Drive, Newell Drive, Valley View Drive, Boyden Lane, Scenic Drive, and Cypress Loop Road, in Fortuna are warned not to drink water without boiling it first. Water should be boiled for one minute and then allowed to cool.

According to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services, potable water is available at the following locations: Rio Dell Fire Hall, 50 West Center St. in Rio Dell and Rohner Park Pavilion, 9 Park St. in Fortuna. “Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking and food preparation until further notice,” the OES update states.”Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.”

The powerful 2:34 a.m. quake hit about 7.5 miles west of Ferndale, caused widespread power outages throughout Humboldt County, with approximately 71,000 PG&E customers affected, according to the company. As if 5 p.m., about 20,000 residents have had their power stored, including parts of Eureka, while other residents reporting they have received text notices that power may not be back up where they live until tomorrow.

At least a dozen people were reported injured and two died "as a result of medical emergencies occurring during and/or just following the earthquake, " according to OES.

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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Commercial Crab Season Delayed

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2022 at 2:59 PM

Hold on to your crab gear, fisherman, crab season's been delayed. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Hold on to your crab gear, fisherman, crab season's been delayed.
The commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed until at least Dec. 31 in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties due to poor meat quality, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The opening date is pending another round of testing, a news release states.

"If results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that will begin at 8:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022," the release states. 

Read the CDFW release below:

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Monday, October 31, 2022

Journal Flashback: Candy Corn Doesn't Care if You Hate It

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2022 at 2:55 PM

Editor's note: In the spirit of Halloween, here's a look back at an October of 2021 column on the potential joy of loving the much reviled treat of the season: candy corn. Enjoy!

Candy corn is trash. Say it all you want; post it on every platform. Candy corn doesn't give a giant gummy rat's ass.

For one thing, it's been around and isn't going anywhere. Candy corn was first manufactured in the 1880s, the same decade that brought us its wax-wrapped cousin from Atlantic City, saltwater taffy. Wild times. Go ahead and hate these vintage sugar bombs — they've survived wartime sugar rationing and two separate decades of low-carb diet trends. They cannot be killed by conventional means.

Oh, you think it's too sweet? Suck it up, Milk Dud. So are cotton candy, jellybeans and s'mores, the core team of seasonal American sweets. Too much is the point. To our contemporary obsession with thinness and LED-bright teeth, candy corn extends its blunt, triangular middle finger.

The tri-colored fusion of fondant and marshmallow does not need an actual flavor, only the binding magic of carnuba wax and, like, six different dyes. With the exception of a regrettable foray into Thanksgiving dinner flavors, candy corn has always had the popcorn balls not to pretend and to be only itself: frosting you can eat while driving or typing. Is it my favorite candy? Not by a longshot. But I have had a lot of sugar and I would like to fight.

Unlike, say, a Look Bar or Good & Plentys, candy corn refuses to be shamed into the shelves of misfit candy only your uncle asks you to pick up. Instead, it waits. Candy corn bides its time until the school supply shelves have been laid to waste. Then, overnight, it crowds the shelves of supermarkets and drugstores, a wave of neon candy announcing the season since long before pumpkin spice was a twinkle in that Starbuck's barista's eye. Do you want some? Doesn't matter. Look, there's a bag in your cart now.

Seasonal though it may be, candy corn isn't out here trying to blend into a Martha Stewart arrangement of cream-colored pumpkins and reclaimed barn wood. No, candy corn is taking down the fall industrial complex from the inside, reminding us that somewhere behind the façade of carefully arranged leaf piles, a sticky toddler is pawing the bins at WinCo or tearing at a bag of Brach's that will inevitably explode and scatter the little orange, yellow and white tablets way behind the fridge.

Candy corn shows up to your tasteful Thanksgiving in over-the-top harvest vegetable drag, its garish stripes mocking the earnest, whitewashed ceramic pilgrims on your table. Go ahead and try to gentrify this cheap-ass confection, Martha. Because you can take the candy out of the drugstore but you can't take the drugstore out of the candy. And some of us remember you're from Jersey.

Oh, you've always hated candy corn because it's so artificial? Cool story, fun size. Enjoy your fruit-sweetened gummies and know that candy corn is blowing bubblegum cigarette powder in your direction. Because unlike Frankenstein's monster, candy corn neither craves the love and acceptance of humanity nor rages at its rejection. In fact, as the annual dragging of candy corn has become its own tradition, the iconic sweet you love to hate has only grown stronger, morphing into pumpkin shapes and Easter pastels. Candy corn does not retreat.

There are, incidentally, only three acceptable ways to eat candy corn: one by one, biting off one color layer at a time, imagining an ultimately imperceptible difference between them and with full mental focus and attention to the candy's transformation into an almost buttery slurry; mindlessly and by the handful as you pass an uncovered candy dish, only realizing how many you've consumed when your fingers graze the bottom and your stomach roils with regret; and by jamming one on each canine tooth, transforming yourself into a candy vampire.

Still, I tip my Halloween witch hat to the Pinterest nihilists making candy-corn fudge, cakes, layered puddings and party snack mixes. In that lawless confectionary dark web, candy corn finds strange new forms, including the alarmingly realistic formation of an ear of corn, made by jamming the pieces into a cookie dough cob.

If you can work up the sugar tolerance and accept candy corn on its own terms, you'll know the smug joy of loving a candy everyone hates. (I see you, black jellybean gang.) Do it or don't. Candy corn does not care.

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.

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