When there’s a food drive going on at your work, school, or local supermarket, what food item is the first thing that comes to mind?
Chances are you said canned food. That’s right, high sodium, high preservative, low nutrition canned food. While any donation is appreciated by those struggling to feed their families, the primary donation of choice does little to better the nutrition of low income families already tending to eat nutrition-poor meals. But how can we get the healthier alternative—fresh fruits and vegetables—into the hands of needy families who either can’t afford them or don’t have markets close by that sell them?
Raley’s has created a way. The supermarket, who has long fought hunger with their well-known nonprofit food donation organization, Food for Families, now wants to fight for healthier foods among our less fortunate. In a new initiative called Food for Families Fresh, Raley’s will continue the fight to end hunger locally while improving how they do so by providing families with increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables through the store’s food bank partners.
“We’ve been noticing for a while now that there’s a correlation between families who are facing hunger and the lack of a nutritionally complete diet,” said Jennie Teel-Wolter, Community Relations Manager for Raley’s. “Food for Families Fresh is a new initiative to simply try to get fruits and vegetables into our food bank partners hands…[so that] every family has access to fresh, healthy food.”
The initiative reshapes the purpose of a food drive by showing it should help not only end hunger, but also improve lives. It’s a circle of collaboration between the community, farms, food banks, and even schools where the initiative plans to provide fresh food education. And the need to help families is greater than you may think. According to Teel-Wolter, up to a quarter of the children in Sacramento county are food insecure—meaning the ability for families to feed their children is not always guaranteed.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about hunger is that it’s something that happens somewhere else,” explained Teel-Wolter. “And it’s not…In one of the richest countries in the world and right here in Sacramento, where we call ourselves the ‘Farm to Fork Capital’, we’re surrounded by so much good healthful access to farms and local purveyors that there’s no reason we can’t connect those resources to the folks who need them most. That’s what we’re aiming to do.”
Since Raley’s covers administrative costs, 100% of every donation goes to directly making that possible. And to make donations even more meaningful, all funds stay local.
“If you give in Lodi, it benefits a family in Lodi. If you give in Roseville, it benefits a family in Roseville. So it really is neighbors helping neighbors,” said Teel-Wolter.
Since 1986, Food for Families raised over $31 million and donated over 21 million pounds of food to our communities. To help a neighbor in your area, donate by visiting foodforfamilies.org or their Facebook page. Donations are also accepted at the register of any Raley’s or by texting “EndHunger” to 85944 (a $5 charge will be added to your bill). Give before July 31st to be a part of the summer drive kick off of Food for Families Fresh—and to see your donations matched by Raley’s by up to $25,000!
“I really, truly believe that it’s easy for us to make a difference if we put our minds to it,” Teel-Wolter cheered on.