When times get tough, communities work together to help those in need. This can be said for those attending Moorpark College and residents in Ventura County.
The Moorpark College Food Pantry is available to students and community members every Tuesday and Thursday from 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. The food pantry is run by Ruben Castro Charities, a non-profit organization seeking to eradicate poverty through education based programs that foster personal relationships.
Many volunteers are familiar with the history of the organization. Pantry manager Daniel Cruz commented on the food pantry’s early days.
“This organization was originally started by the Castro family. Ruben Castro was a very well known gentleman in the community,” Cruz said.
Ruben Castro was a Korean War veteran who lived in the Moorpark community his entire life. Castro became a leader as a local businessman and spoke on on behalf of the Latino community.
Cruz continued to talk about his personal relationship to the family and what drew him to this particular charity.
“I am related through marriage to the Castro family. I had been involved in many different community service projects over the years, and this one hit the note that I could impact student’s lives,” Cruz said.
Organizations like Ruben Castro Charities make students more aware of the resources available to them on campus.
Kiki Girard, a 28 year-old student at Moorpark, commented on how the food pantry has personally impacted her.
“I live on my own, it’s important for me to have food in my fridge right away. This allows me to use money to pay for gas to get to school and take care of the bills,” Girard said.
She continued to discuss the logistical reasons for choosing to invest her energy in shopping here.
“I live in Simi Valley and considering I am at school all week, I get to shop every Tuesday on this campus. It’s important to me because I don’t have lunch that day, there have been times this semester where I didn’t have extra. This pantry gives me peace of mind so I can fully focus on education without worrying about feeling hungry”, Girard said.
Other volunteers also touched on the importance of the charity. Ruth Rubek noted how long the charity has been making an impact in the Moorpark community.
“Ruben Castro Charities has been supplying the community with food for decades. We get food from the government, local stores and community members,” Rubek said.
Ken Rodriguez, a local resident for 55 years, has been personally impacted by the charity. Rodriguez commented on personal help he received and how those experiences led him to Moorpark College.
“Back in 2017 I had a heart surgery and the charity would bring food to my house. After that I told myself that I was going to get involved. For the past two years I have volunteered here at Moorpark. It’s been wonderful to help others through this program,” Rodriguez said.
With the help of these volunteers, the Moorpark College Food Pantry is a beacon of inspiration for the community. As people continue to utilize it, Ruben Castro’s legacy will thrive for years to come.