SALINAS VALLEY — Rancho Cielo’s annual Veggie Box and BBQ Fundraiser took place Aug. 8-11 on the Rancho Cielo Youth Campus in Salinas.
The fundraiser was the biggest success to date, with more than 14,000 boxes sold, 300 volunteers packing boxes and over 2,000 barbecued lunches sold.
“This year is our biggest year yet for our Veggie Box Fundraiser,” said Veggie Box Fundraiser Chair Mike Costa. “It continues to amaze us with the community support, the industry support, and how everybody comes together between Salinas Valley, Monterey Peninsula, Santa Cruz County and San Benito County.”
In addition to directly benefiting the student programs of Rancho Cielo, this fundraiser unifies the community on a massive scale: local businesses sponsor, local ag organizations donate produce, and the local public purchases boxes. Hundreds of volunteers come out to pack the boxes, as well.
Volunteers from the Latino, Latina, LatinX Employee Resource Group for the San Francisco 49ers attended one of the box packing days.
“This is a great opportunity for us to have our staff to come out and make an impact on the community that loves our organization, and we can show a little love back,” said Nick Clarke, senior manager of fan engagement.
Salinas Mayor Kimbley Craig also volunteered on one of the box packing days.
“Something like Veggie Boxes at Rancho Cielo shows the level of commitment within our community to helping local nonprofits,” Craig said.
She continued, “Veggie Boxes is always fun — it gives you a little bit of a glimpse into what our field workers work with, and I think that’s also important to remember how agriculture is the backbone of our community.”
This year, the fundraiser has also partnered with Boys and Girls Club of Monterey County, Food Bank for Monterey County, Salvation Army Salinas, and Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County. These organizations received donated veggie boxes, providing yet another avenue for this fundraiser to give back to the community.
The BBQ on Aug. 11 served over 2,000 lunches. Many patrons picked up their veggie boxes on Friday along with a delicious tri-tip BBQ lunch, and several enjoyed their lunches on the Rancho Cielo campus.