Providing more than 5,000 residents of the East Bay with healthy, nutritious food while keeping costs low and the community involved – in the form of a large group of committed volunteers – all aided the East Bay Food Pantry in securing a $30,000 Walmart Foundation Grant.
“It was a big ask,” says Anita K. Randall, Executive Director of the East Bay Food Pantry. “We’re a pantry that serves a large area, and a large number of clients. We thought we had a great idea and a great program, but wondered, ‘Will they?’ In the end, they funded us fully, and we’re very honored and grateful.”
The grant helps to support East Bay Food Bank’s Access Nutrition Initiative, which enables the food bank to provide healthy and nutritious options, such as whole grain foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy, and high-quality proteins.
One part of the Access Nutrition Initiative, Food4Kids, bridges the gap for schoolchildren who receive free or reduced-cost lunch when they aren’t in school. “We started with a 10-week summer program. Our food pantry families showed that their children qualified for free or reduced-cost lunch, then they were able to pick up a package once a week that included five breakfasts, five lunches and five snacks,” Randall says.
In keeping with the food bank’s mission to “engage, educate and empower the East Bay in creating a hunger-free community”, clients are sent home with tips on how to store and prepare the fresh produce and other foods they receive in order to help them make healthy choices.
With client numbers increasing by nearly 1,000 people per year since the food bank opened in August 2009, it’s a reminder that in addition to generous donations like the Walmart Foundation grant, assistance from the community is still needed to help support the food bank’s mission.