Southern California Gas Co., in conjunction with regional charity organizations, Monday launched the “Fueling Our Communities” program to provide free meals to individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in rural parts of Central and Southern California, including Riverside County seniors.

The program, which is funded by a $500,000 donation from SoCalGas, will provide nearly 140,000 meals to 40,000 individuals in 44 underserved communities in Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, Tulare, Kern and Ventura counties, according to the utility.

The summer season program will feed seniors, students, families and migrant farm workers while stimulating local small businesses, SoCalGas officials said.

“As the summer season is approaching and more areas are reopening, we must keep in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing and there are many vulnerable populations in need,” said Andy Carrasco, vice president of strategy and engagement, and chief environmental officer at SoCalGas.

“Through the `Fueling Our Communities’ initiative, SoCalGas hopes to help fill an essential need by providing meals while helping local businesses, as well,” he said. “We are thankful for all the amazing organizations and community leaders who have stepped up and joined us to give back to those who need it the most.”

The participating charitable partner in the Inland Empire is the Family Service Association serving Banning, Cabazon, Calimesa, Hemet, Jurupa Valley, Moreno Valley, Perris, Riverside, Corona and San Jacinto in Riverside County, and Chino, Colton, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Joshua Tree, Loma Linda, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino, Upland, Yucaipa and Yucca Valley in San Bernardino County.

“We’re thrilled to partner with SoCalGas this summer to provide nutritious meals to the senior population in the Inland Empire. This program will provide meals to seniors in 24 cities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties — many which are in rural and underserved areas,” said Shannon Gonzalez, chief program officer at FSA.

“In addition to distributing meals to senior residents weekly with our city partners, FSA will also purchase gift certificates from local restaurants, which will allow recipients to visit their favorite food spots and contribute to the local economy,” she said.

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