Food + You Helps Moms Like Janelle
If you were a parent at a school like Webster Elementary in North St. Paul, once a month, you would get a call, text or email from the school. The message would tell you there’s going to be free food available, and when picking up the kids, make sure to stop by a large school room full of tables of groceries. And just like last month, you'd be able to get food for your family for no cost and with no judgment.
Webster Elementary is one of 19 participating Food + You schools that’s wrapping up the 2017-18 academic year. Food + You is a school-driven Second Harvest Heartland program to help advocate for and implement federally funded nutrition programs, do SNAP (formerly food stamps) outreach and coordinate direct food distributions.
Janelle, first learned about the new Food + You food distributions when she was asked to volunteer to help set up. She says she’s one of Webster Elementary’s go-to moms when it comes to recruiting volunteers.
Food + You food distributions, run by the schools themselves to best serve the needs of their own communities, serve not only as a critical source of foods for the students’ families, but also a critical source of nutritious foods. Janelle says her family of four goes through easily $500 a month in just groceries. A couple bags from the monthly Food + You distributions relieves some of the strain of paying for healthy but expensive grocery items.
“I’m passionate about putting the right fuel in your body. I go for the more fresh foods,” Janelle says, “the healthier stuff. I don’t like a lot of sugar.”
A busy mom of 5- and 7-year-old sons and running her own business, Janelle is grateful she can usually make ends meet. She recognizes not all of her sons’ classmates can count on the fridge always being full, so she does what she can to help out at Webster Elementary. “I have one of the most fortunate families in this school,” Janelle said. “But still, we all live paycheck to paycheck—we’re one disaster away from being homeless. A lot of these families are in that situation, so I do what I can to help.”
If you were a parent at a school like Webster Elementary, you could go to the monthly food distribution, pick up food staples like beans, bread and canned vegetables. On your way to leave, you could pick up bags of fresh produce, going home to a family instead of going to waste.
Programs like Food + You help kids who can’t always get the food they need to be able to grow and learn. Free and reduced-price breakfasts, lunches and snacks are another essential resource that helps take the strain off families trying to make ends meet.
Summer makes providing food for kids a little more challenging for parents who rely on school resources during the academic year. Your support makes a difference. For every dollar you give, Second Harvest Heartland can purchase $7 worth of grocery products that can go to our community’s hungry kids.