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April 12-19, 2006

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Second Harvest

Hunger Project: Second Harvest provided more than 5 million pounds of food to the needy last year.

Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

While searching for spare change outside the grounds of Candidate Chris Krohn's minimansion during the India Joze-catered kickoff party for his District 3 Supervisor campaign, Nūz chanced upon City Council member Tim Fitzmaurice exiting his old amigo's party.

When Nūz asked who would have his support in the race, Fitzmaurice was quick to insist that he was staying neutral and remaining focused on a single issue during this campaign season: the living wage initiative.

Sporting his bright yellow $9.25/hour living wage button, Fitzmaurice told Nūz he sat down and talked with both Krohn and candidate Neil Coonerty, and his hope is that, as locally involved as they both may be, they'll stay out of a city issue that has nothing to do with county politics. Having the issue dragged into the county supes race, he figures, is the last thing the initiative needs.

Meanwhile, Nūz noted with amusement that the Sentinel finally got around to reporting about City Councilmember/bakery owner Emily Reilly backtracking on her out-of-the-gate support for the same initiative in their March 31 front page story.

Even more amusing was the fact that the Sentinel ran the story not once, but twice, in the same paper, on page 1 and, just in case you missed it, again on page 3.

Both stories, written by Sentinel staff writer Shanna McCord, were word-for-word exactly the same, in their entirety, as in, you know, the whole thing, run twice.

Redundant? Well, yeah, but when you're No. 2, you try harder.

Food for Thought

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz and Benito counties is expanding. As a charitable wholesaler that provides food to local hunger-fighting organizations, the Watsonville-based warehouse is breaking ground on a new building come April 20. Additions to the facility will include new loading and receiving docks, easy-access distribution areas and increased office space.

"In a way this facility is just the tip of the iceberg because we provide to neighborhood pantries who then distribute the food all across the counties," says Willy Elliot-McCrea, executive director of Second Harvest.

Second Harvest receives its supplies from small, local donations as well as larger, corporate donations.

"Our suppliers donate for a variety of different reasons; out of a desire to help, also to promote their own image, and in some instances to get rid of stuff that doesn't sell well in stores," says Elliot-McCrea.

Crates loaded with Marshmallow Fruit Loops, Kraft Cheese Whiz in a tub and other foodstuffs you never knew existed sit in the Second Harvest warehouse, awaiting distribution. Second Harvest also offers other more nutritious items including fresh fruits and vegetables.

With the help of over 3,000 volunteers pledging 37,000 hours of service, Second Harvest provided over 5 million pounds of food to needy families last year.

However, by 2015, Second Harvest estimates that double that number will need charitable assistance in Santa Cruz and Benito counties. To accommodate this demand, Second Harvest's facilities must grow and become more efficient.

"The primary cause of hunger here is the cost of housing," says McCrea. "It's got people in a vice."

To complete its expansion, Second Harvest is looking for a total of $4.3 million in donations ($1.8 million of which has already been collected), so dig deep, Santa Cruz.

Popcorn and Parking Lots

Tired of being hassled by the Man, the Santa Cruz Guerrilla Drive-In is hosting its very own Flim-Flam Film Festival on Thursday, April 13, featuring short films on the topic of repressive laws. The evening's films will focus primarily on local restrictions, specifically the criminalization of loitering, camping, napping, smoking and panhandling in public.

This event comes in the midst of a recent debate over a city ordinance that would make it illegal for people to spend more than IO minutes in public parking lots, which Guerrilla Drive-In spokesman Rico Thunder referred to in an email publicizing the event as "just part of a 10-year Santa Cruz effort to privatize public space, to sanitize street life, to sweep the undesirables, the homeless, the unbalanced, the difficult challenges of society away."

In protest of this ordinance, the Guerrilla Drive-In has selected the always lovely Cedar Street parking garage (located at the corner of Cedar and Church streets) as the venue for Thursday's Film Fest.

The Guerrilla Drive-In, which uses public space to shows classic (and cult classic) films, has had its own run-ins with restrictive rules. In July of 2004, the Drive-In was ousted from its location under the Soquel Bridge by Santa Cruz police for using the space after dark without a permit. It has since relocated to the railroad tracks along Fair Street.

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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