Bidding Farewell to Health4Kids
By Eric Steckel
March 31, 2022
Program Provided 15 Years of Nourishing Meals to Families at Home
Children need nourishing food to grow and learn. Unfortunately, many kids in our community go home to empty cupboards on the weekends.
In 2006, Children Rising listened to the needs of our school partners and launched Health4Kids. A unique partnership with the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the program provided nourishing food for children and families at home over the weekends so that kids could come to school on Monday mornings ready to learn.
Today we say farewell to Health4Kids.
Charlotte Martinez, who became the Health4Kids program director in 2007, has been with the program from the very beginning. “Mondays were a big problem. Many families just cannot afford nutritious food. And we found teachers paying for food out of their pocket.”
Volunteers were enthusiastic and eager to pack food, but the question arose: How do we get food to the families?
“That’s when we started working with the food bank, and they just got more and more cooperative.” The Food Bank went to schools and found out which children and families were in need. “Then they used their own trucks to deliver it on a Thursday so the schools could get it organized and have the families pick it up on Friday. And the food that went out was fresh, nutritious, and culturally appropriate,” she explained.
“Many families just cannot afford nutritious food. And we found teachers paying for food out of their pocket.”—Charlotte Martinez
Over 15 years, Charlotte witnessed the growth of the program and the camaraderie among the volunteers and the Food Bank. “When I started volunteering in 2006, we were bagging about 300 bags of food, and I thought that was amazing. By the time I left, it was 1,500 at each session,” she said.
Judah Godoy served as Volunteer Coordinator/Manager at the Food Bank for nearly10 years. “The heart of it was community. Not one person, but a group of people,” he fondly recalls. “It crossed a lot of invisible lines. Different ages and races were there. There was a socio-economic difference between the volunteers. But when we met, we were all on the same level. True community leveled the playing field, and each and every volunteer was integral.”
Judah also pointed out, “A significant amount of food was going out, with real children and families receiving it. That is something that we are all very proud of.”
As we bid a fond farewell to Health4Kids, the good news is that our partner, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, will continue to get food into families’ pantries in our community schools. “Everyone that was a part of it can walk away and say, ‘That was cool.’ If we can have more of those moments in life…” Judah said, his voice trailing off. Indeed, let’s all find ways of having more of those moments in life and help many more children. How cool is that?
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