Paul's Note - January 29th, 2021

Since my last newsletter, 181 Pima County residents have died of COVID-19. One of them was an educator and reserve police officer, Rubén Cajigas.  

Officer Cajigas began his career with the Tucson Police Department on August 20, 1998.  After he graduated from the academy he was assigned as a patrol officer in Operation Division West.  Officer Cajigas worked in a variety of assignments during his career.  He served in the DUI unit, as a School Resource Officer, Hostage Negotiator, Prisoner Transport Unit, and patrol assignments in both ODW and Operations Division Downtown.  Officer Cajigas retired June 6, 2020, after more than 21 years of service to the Tucson community.  He then took a position with Catalina High School as the Dean of Students and continued as a reserve police officer. 

Officer Cajigas is survived by his wife, Teresa, and five children. I would like to extend my condolences to Officer Cajigas’s family and loved ones at this very difficult time. 

Last week, I wrote about the vaccine POD (point of distribution) that the city is staffing at the TCC, one of several places to get vaccinated in the city. We are currently in stage 1B of vaccinations, which includes public safety employees, people who work in health care, teachers and those over 75. If you fit into those groups, please register to get vaccinated. To register or find more information, please visit pima.gov/covid19vaccine

It’s been a tough year for the agencies that provide food for people who are out of work. Luckilly, some groups in town have been able to step up to fill in the gaps. Iskashitaa Refugee Network has worked to provide fresh, local produce from many new sources to many organizations including St. Francis' partners ICS, Casa Maria, CFBSA, various other food banks, schools, and shelters through Market on the Move, and Food Not Bombs as well as to several rural reservations. Our harvesting efforts have diverted over 90,000 pounds of produce away from the landfill and into the hands of our community. There are two ways you can help us glean even more fruit in 2021. 

If you or your neighbors have citrus trees and can harvest themselves, please drop off fruit at the Iskashitaa office at 1406 E Grant Rd, Bldg 2 Monday through Saturday, 9am-5pm. If you need assistance harvesting, let us know through our Fruit Donor Form (www.iskashitaa.org/fruit-donor-form). Iskashitaa Harvesters will bring all our own equipment (crates, pickers, clippers, gloves), each volunteer signs a liability waiver form, and we leave the place as we found it- if not better as we try to compost fallen plant materials. Extra precautions are being taken to protect volunteers and residents from COVID-19. All communication can be done online, volunteers will wear masks at all times, and anyone feeling sick will be required to stay home. The pandemic has increased the community’s need for fresh, local produce, so your donations are more important than ever. It takes a village to feed a village and to stop colossal food waste! 

We are looking for individuals that can help us coordinate harvests within their neighborhoods where citrus may be going to waste. Talk to your neighbors and advertise through listservs, NextDoor, bulletins, or hand out flyers and arrange for Iskashitaa to come harvest 5-10 properties for a designated Friday or Saturday in January, February, and/or March. By harvesting multiple properties at once, we can efficiently supply our community and other local organizations with fresh produce throughout the year. As a neighborhood harvest liaison, you will play a pivotal role in feeding our community! 

If you are interested in donating your fruit, please fill out the Fruit Donor Form at www.iskashitaa.org/fruit-donor-form. Call the office number above if you have any questions. 

If you are interested in becoming a neighbor harvest liaison, please email Allison Doty at harvesting@iskashitaa.org or call the Iskashitaa office at 520-440-0100.