Mouse Chow

Disney execs collect big checks while low-wage workers collect free food

United Neighborhoods started its own food program five years ago. Since then, the Anaheim community group has distributed free groceries to dozens of local residents every Thursday at 10 a.m. But the program has doubled since Sept. 11; four weeks ago, United Neighborhoods added an extra evening shift to help feed Disneyland workers like the Solteros who work during the day. Borja learned about the food giveaway from Josie Montoya, the United Neighborhoods activist who founded the program.

"I told her that Sept. 11 has really hurt the workers," Borja recalled. "She invited me to come down and help provide their food to the Disneyland workers. I posted a notice about the program on the employee bulletin board at the hotel."

The United Neighborhoods food program is completely self-sufficient. Each year, the group pays a $300 fee to Worldwide Ministries, a Christian homeless-relief organization based in Los Angeles. In return, United Neighborhoods receives a weekly shipment of groceries. Along with roughly 35 other Orange County-based nonprofits—most of which feed homeless people—the group sends a driver to the Crystal Cathedral each Thursday morning. There, a truck from LA unloads the food and divides it evenly among the organizations.

United Neighborhoods picks up between 800 and 1,000 pounds of groceries each week. But the group also gets free food from the Orange County Community Development Council, which provides up to 2,500 pounds of food to any local charity that can safely—and cleanly—store the produce.

"We typically go there once a week," Montoya said. "There's no guarantee what you'll find because the stock changes day to day. You might go one day when there's a great selection of food, but the next time, the refrigerator will be picked clean."

To help with United Neighborhoods' food program, call Josie Montoya at (714) 774-0107.
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