Belinda Crawford of SCV Food Pantry A Santa Clarita Unsung Hero
SCV Food Pantry and Executive Director's mission:
‘No child or senior in the Santa Clarita Valley should go to bed hungry.’
As executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry on Railroad Avenue in Newhall, Belinda Crawford has earned a reputation for her unflagging passion to help hungry people, especially kids and seniors.
As she puts it, no child or senior in the SCV should ever go to bed hungry. She works diligently every day to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“We’re neighbors helping neighbors,” Crawford said. “We’re a very small organization, but we accomplish big things through the efforts of our dedicated staff and caring volunteers. They are our hands and our hearts.”
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From Louisville to Nashville to Santa Clarita
Originally from Louisville, Ky., Crawford was living and working on the business side of radio and media in Nashville when her broadcaster husband Jack accepted a job at Unistar’s Santa Clarita studios. The couple and their sons moved to the SCV in 1993.
She was traffic and public service announcement coordinator at KBET, the precursor to AM 1220 KHTS, for nearly a year, then joined California Institute of the Arts as development director and events coordinator. Along the way, she was Lakewood Elementary PTA co-president for two terms and was a Cub Scout den leader and camp coordinator for five and three years, respectively.
Early SCV Food Pantry History
Meanwhile, a group of church and community leaders formed the Santa Clarita Valley Hunger Coalition in the early 1980s. A subcommittee including Hod and Mary Wadsworth, Rev. Lynn Jay from St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and Sharon Rodes-Wicket from Santa Clarita United Methodist Church spearheaded forming a volunteer-based nonprofit public benefit corporation.
The SCV Food Pantry opened at St. Stephen’s in Valencia in 1986, serving two clients on the first day. Eventually the need outgrew the available space and the pantry moved to its present location on Railroad Avenue in 1992.
Crawford Becomes SCV Food Pantry Executive Director
In 2002, a friend at Crawford’s church told her the pantry was looking for an executive director, and she followed up, met the board, and joined the organization.
At the time, the SCV Food Pantry distributed supplemental food to 15-17 families each day.
Since then, the pantry’s operations have expanded five-fold under Crawford's leadership. In 2012, it distributed more than 1,000,000 pounds of food – equivalent to about 1.3 million meals – to families, children and seniors in the Santa Clarita Valley alone. And the number of volunteers Crawford works with has quadrupled in the last 10 years to keep pace with the pantry’s growing outreach.
More Background from the SCV Food Pantry
More than 1,100 senior citizens receive food through the SCV Food Pantry Senior Outreach program. Through a partnership with the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, the pantry provides food for 20-plus homebound seniors monthly. Additionally, an average of 20 homeless persons per month receive food from the pantry.
Funding to provide fresh milk for the children of the Food Pantry’s clients is a major concern and need. The pantry established the “Milk Money” program to provide one gallon of milk per client child per month. The program needs ongoing financial support.
SCV Food Pantry staff and volunteers check out donations from city of Santa Clarita residents.
Clients are referred to the SCV Food Pantry from schools, churches, local social services and by word of mouth. All services are provided free of charge to our neighbors in need. The pantry serves SCV residents who fall below
Crawford cited a recent survey conducted by the city of Santa Clarita, showing that 16 percent of the residents had a total household income of less than $30,000 a year.
“You can’t raise a family on that,” Crawford said.
Santa Clarita Unsung Hero Not Entirely Unsung
Crawford is not entirely unsung; her tireless efforts have not gone unheralded. The Castaic Chamber of Commerce and Castaic Area Town Council named her Woman of the Year in 2007. Two years later, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, an agency of Feeding America, awarded its 2009 Community Spirit Award to the SCV Food Pantry. She earned recognition for her efforts to create and implement innovative programs to address specific needs of the pantry’s varied clients.
SCV Food Pantry Location, Hours and Contact Info
The SCV Food Pantry is located at 24133 Railroad Ave., Newhall 91321. Here’s a map. Its regular hours are Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to noon and 10 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of the month. There’s a special schedule for seniors. For more information, call 661-255-9078, visit http://www.scvfoodpantry.org or email email@example.com.
See and Hear Belinda Crawford’s Santa Clarita Unsung Hero Interview
Belinda Crawford joined KHTS afternoon air personality Jason Endicott at the station’s Canyon Country studios for a live interview on Monday, May 20, 2013. They talked about her work with the Food Pantry, as well as her previous life.
Read more of KHTS's Santa Clarita Unsung Heroes features brought to you by Mercedes-Benz of Valencia.
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