Saved in IV: Food, Community and Education

13 Feb

Food insecurity and hunger can be a lonely place.

The small amount of money you have for food can confine you to what is in your own refrigerator or cupboard. You can’t hang out in cafes, because even a coffee and a pastry would blow your budget for the day. Your world shrinks a little bit and so does your view of what is possible for you in that world.

That is why I was excited about more than the possibility of some free food when I caught the bus over to the Isla Vista Elementary school, scene of the Foodbank’s Healthy School Pantry, in partnership with IV Youth Projects.

Healthy School Family Pantry logo email

The Healthy School Pantry is a national award-winning concept that shows the door to old concept of a food distribution, where everyone stands in a line in the hot sun for an age, gets a bag of groceries and goes home feeling depersonalized.


IV Elementary School

The HSP approach is to create a ‘health fair’ with lots of stalls where families can get healthy food, taste recipes and get nutrition education. At the same time there are a whole range of other activities from health screenings, cal fresh (food stamps) sign ups, instruction on growing your own food, games and also a chance to sign up to be a Foodbank Nutrition Advocate and be a teacher and promoter of nutritional health in your own community. This is what a helicopter view might look like:

How the HSP model works.

How the HSP model works.

The good news is that real life is even better! Check out these pictures:





At this healthy school pantry, there was teeth fluoridation for kids, help with taxes, a yummy carrot and citrus salad to taste, but more than that, there was an amazing atmosphere of people wanting to help other people be healthy and to have fun doing it.

What’s more, when I made a note of the food I would have received from the distribution element of the HSP (i didn’t take the food, I purchased it elsewhere, so as not to take food that someone else would need) I discovered that the value of this food was over $40!

Things were getting very tight with my food stamp purchases, but here I had vegetables, meat, rice, lentils. A lifesaver!

The Foodbank hopes to grow this model so that all food distributions by the Foodbank and our member agencies are like this. I hope you’ll support our efforts to do this. You can do so at this special donation page.

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