School Pantries: Helping Johnson and His Family Thrive

September 29, 2016

Spring Valley Science School is buzzing with excitement as children climb on the jungle gym, play tag and show off their basketball skills. Drawing children together from around the city during the school break, Spring Valley hosts summer classes for students and also acts as a community center where parent volunteers run a weekly food pantry.

Spring Valley is one of more than 246 Food Bank pantry sites where families and individuals can pick up fresh produce and grocery staples. The farmers’ market-style pantries are designed to allow participants to choose from items such as chicken, eggs, rice, apples, lettuce, and potatoes, as if shopping in a traditional market.

The pantries support families like Johnson’s. During the school year, Johnson’s family attends the pantry at the Chinese Education Center (CEC) where he is entering 3rd grade this fall, but during the summer they count on getting food from Spring Valley where Johnson takes summer classes.

Johnson’s maternal grandmother lives near his family and, like many grandparents in the community, she often helps out with taking Johnson to and from school. She tends to have the day off of work on Thursdays, and she enjoys joining the family to pick out healthy food at the school pantry. All three generations gather for family dinners at Johnson’s home, where they use their food pantry groceries to make stir fry and fried potatoes, Johnson’s favorite dishes.

When he’s not busy in school, Johnson spends most of his free time making art. Ya Yi, Johnson’s mother, says her favorite gift from Johnson is a mother’s day card that he drew for her. She cherishes his creativity and wants to continue to nurture his love of drawing. She plans on enrolling him in an art program as soon as his summer session at Spring Valley is over.

Participation in the food pantry program allows Johnson’s family to worry less about putting dinner on the table and to devote more attention to raising a happy, thriving child. Ya Yi is thankful for the assistance they receive from the food pantry. “We are very happy to get this food.”