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Feeding Hungry Workers on the Frontlines

by Cheryl Porter
Contributing writer



On Saturday June 25, Bob Hodel, founder of Hodel's Country Dining and Catering, went to the grocery store to buy a few things. At the checkout stand, the cashier asked him if he wanted to donate a case of water which would go to the emergency shelter in Kernville for the residents displaced by the Erskine Fire, which started last Thursday afternoon in the foothills of Isabella.

"Little did I know that we would be personally involved in just a few hours," Hodel said.

That very afternoon, an urgent call came in to Hodel's from Southern California Edison. One of Hodel's managers, Jose, was asked if the restaurant could come to the town of Isabella to feed the many SCE workers brought in from Southern and Northern California to do emergency repair work to the power system affected by the fast moving fire. Hodel's had just 4 hours' notice to get the food prepared and to the work site in time for dinner.

"We were originally asked to feed 150-200 people," said Hodel. "We served the first meal Saturday night and have been there every day since. As of today (Tuesday June 28) we are feeding up to 500 people breakfast, lunch, and dinner with boxed meals and buffet containers of hot food."

SCE workers have been brought in from other parts of the state to help repair and rebuild more than 200 burned power poles, wires, etc., in order to restore power to the area. For their part, Hodel's brings and sets up food in a tented area in Isabella, where there's room for all the workers and their vehicles and heavy equipment. In order to feed that many hungry workers, Hodel's employees have been putting in overtime and even double-time hours, but it's been worth the sacrifice.

"It's literally a tent city," Hodel said. "It's all a coordinated effort to try and complete this massive repair job by Friday." Speaking of the devastation brought on by the fire, he added, "We could see the hills where the fire was, and it looked terrible. In terms of human tragedy, it was the most personal fire I've seen. I feel the sadness of so many older people losing everything."

For more information, call Hodel's Country Dining at (661) 399-3341.

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