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Two local women helping struggling families push through pandemic

Families Feeding Families
Blake DeVine/KEYT
Since April, Niecie Cox (left) and Kathy Neches (right) have helped 55 families on the Westside by giving them groceries.
Costco Donations
Courtesy Photo
Every two weeks, Families Feeding Families organizes a shopping trip to Costco and fills carts of food for those in need.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Niecie Cox’s apartment is filled to the brim with food, distributed to her neighbors in need at an apartment complex on the Westside.

Since April, Cox and her friend Kathy Neches have helped 55 families by giving them groceries.

Most of these parents have lost their jobs during the pandemic and aren’t able to qualify for government public assistance.

“They don’t have any money because they don’t have jobs,” Cox said. “We thought right here in the community, we could do something.”

Others residents don’t have cars and can’t access free food distribution sites.

“Nobody should he hungry, this is the richest country in the world,” Neches said. “Almost everybody in this complex has lost their job and they don’t have access to get to the Foodbank.”

Every two weeks, Families Feeding Families creates a grocery list before shopping at Costco.

“They check off what they want,” Cox said. “Then we bag up their stuff and give it to them outside the door.”

The grassroots effort is entirely funded through generous donations from community members. 

Its volunteers take the term ‘buying in bulk’ to the next level, sometimes filling 15 carts with food.

“Fresh produce, fresh fruit, fresh chicken, milk, eggs, snacks for the kids,” Neches described.

The neighbors appreciate a helping hand during this tough time. 

“The true act of generosity,” Westside resident GJ Padilla said. “You feel the authenticity of giving.”

Alexander Estrada is a 7th grader at La Cumbre Junior High School whose mother, Martha is unable to work due to a shoulder injury.

“She couldn’t go back to work, so she couldn’t get money,” he said. “It was hard getting food and stuff but they helped us get food.”

Not only is this effort changing lives by feeding the hungry but it’s also altering attitudes and perspectives of people who are less fortunate. 

“It’s become a community of hope,” Cox said. “Just some hope back in here.”

“A lot of people are coming together, they’re socializing and communicating more,” one volunteer Zuliana Gonzalez said. “It’s bringing the community together.”

Last week, the group bought Christmas presents for all 40 children living in the Westside apartment complex.

To donate, visit the Families Feeding Families website.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.


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