The need for CSA programs and services continues to climb (see related MV Voice article). In calendar year 2017, the number of people looking to the agency for food, financial assistance and other safety net services climbed to over 10,000. October 2017 marked the first month in recent history that the total number of households receiving food through the Food & Nutrition Center (FNC) and food outreach programs passed the 1,000 mark – for a total of 1,016 household or 3,183 individuals served!
FNC Director Christine Flego attributes this recent surge to the overwhelming success of (and need for) our school outreach program funded through Inspire Mountain View. “Our target was to serve 350 families whose children are in the free and reduced lunch program at Mistral, Theuerkauf and Castro elementary schools this year,” she explains. “To date, we have blown way past this goal, with over 433 families participating, and we expect that number to continue to grow.”
With people having to pay more for housing in Silicon Valley, they are cutting back on grocery purchases, she notes. “We are also seeing an uptick in the number of unhoused clients, including those living in their vehicles. If it weren’t for CSA, I don’t know where these individuals and families would be getting their food. It is heartbreaking that, in this geographical area, there is so much food instability and children are caught in the middle of it.”
About half of the households served through FNC are senior clients who come from all walks of life and all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. “Most have worked all their lives and given so much to others,” says Christine. “At this point in their lives, the last thing they should have to worry about is what necessities to go without so they can put food on the table. Our clients are so grateful for what they receive. There’s one client who always comes through the pantry line telling us ‘Bless you’ – that’s pretty special.”
With so many of our neighbors depending on CSA for their nutrition, the need for food donations continues to grow. “Contributions are way up during the holiday months,” says Christine. “We especially need nonperishable food donations in the early spring and over the summer months when our pantry shelves are a little bare.”