Morning Snack Program Reaches Far in West Marin

December 26, 2018

When the Food Bank truck pulls up to Tomales Elementary School in western Marin County each week, a group of 7th and 8th graders help the principal, Amanda Mattea, distribute food to all the classrooms. It’s part of the Food Bank’s Morning Snack Program which serves nearly 4,700 wholesome snacks to 20 schools throughout San Francisco and Marin each day — foods such as fresh fruit, carrots, and string cheese, giving kids the fuel they need to learn.

Additionally, the Food Bank’s Healthy Children Pantries provide low-income parents with fresh produce, lean proteins, and pantry staples to prepare nutritious meals at home. These pantries are conveniently located in public schools, giving parents easy access to nutritious food as they drop off or pick up their children.

With these two programs, the Food Bank is making a dent in childhood hunger. Hungry children are often tired, have trouble concentrating, and are likely to fall behind in class. They tend to have weaker immune systems, putting them at greater risk of illness. And studies show that kids who grow up hungry or malnourished are not as well prepared for success.

Healthy Snacks Spur Conversations about Healthy Eating

Educators see a big difference when students have enough to eat. “Children’s basic needs must be met before we can even talk about learning,” says Principal Mattea. “Your body needs to be taken care of, and you need nutritious food to eat.”

For the Tomales Elementary children, their bus ride home can take as long as an hour in this rural area of west Marin. So instead of being distributed as a morning snack, Tomales Elementary School distributes snacks from the Food Bank in the afternoon so kids can stay full on their long bus rides home.

Having a filling snack tides them over until dinner so they can do homework and play. “Our kids’ favorite snack is fruit,” says Principal Mattea. “The other day, they were very excited to get oranges, and we talked about all the ways to eat an orange, from orange juice, to fruit salad. It spurred some great conversation about different kinds of snacks and healthy eating.”

Food Bank Innovations | Mobile Pantry

November 6, 2018

For most of us, running out of milk, or dinner fixings, or toothpaste can be easily remedied with a quick trip to the grocery store. Even our pantry participants don’t have too far to travel to have access to fresh groceries on a weekly basis. But out in extreme West Marin, easy access to food is a foreign concept. The area is so remote that you can drive for miles without seeing a single building. Oftentimes, the only signs of life are the dairy farms that dot the landscape. It’s these dairy farms where our latest innovation has begun; the Mobile Pantry.

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Providing Healthy Food to Isolated Neighbors

The ranch hands on these farms often work six days a week, and many do not own cars. To get to the grocery store, some have to find childcare and others must wait for a friend to take them on their one day off. And due to the higher cost of food in this remote area, the buying power in west Marin is drastically reduced. Enter the Food Bank’s mobile pantry unit, the new program that brings fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and proteins out to struggling families who have limited access to food.

Positive Response Thus Far

Norma’s husband works on one of the farms and says it definitely is a struggle to feed her family every month. “The closest grocery stores are miles away, and it costs extra money to just get there to buy food to feed my family.  The food you are delivering is really healthy, and is helping out this community. It’s amazing that you would come all the way out here to help us.”

Long Time Coming

Edith Cadena, Food Bank Program Coordinator, runs the mobile pantry and knows it’s making a huge impact. “The Food Bank does urban well, and now we are impacting the rural community, which is a region I have wanted to target for awhile now.  It’s been wonderful to see the trust growing in the community.”

Connected Through Food

Consider a donation to help ensure that all of our hungry neighbors have access to healthy food — whether they live in the city, the suburbs, or the most remote places in the Bay Area.