Mill Valley School District
The pandemic has challenged our schools to develop new ways to educate students, whether it be virtual, in-person or a hybrid model of learning. Cafeterias are a thing of the past—at least for now—and gone is the model of salad bars, buffets and mix-and-match meals. Schools are rethinking how to feed students, especially those who were receiving free and reduced breakfasts and lunches. The Mill Valley School District (MVSD) has adapted to this new reality and now offers all families a pre-packaged five-day lunch box from Choicelunch, a healthy school lunch delivery business serving Northern and Southern California.
MVSD has five elementary schools and one middle school, with approximately 2600 students, more than half of whom are participating in the lunch program.
It is difficult to predict how many families will arrive to pick up the boxed lunches each week. Kids can be picky about what they like to eat. And, the box lunches have limited choices. As a result, there are unclaimed lunches available regularly to donate to ExtraFood. An ExtraFood volunteer picks up 140-160 lunches each week and delivers them to Next Generation Scholars, which serves kids from low-income families, and Ritter Center, which serves the homeless and precariously housed. We applaud one of the food service workers at MVSD who knew about ExtraFood and encouraged the district to donate the meals. What an excellent partnership, which we hope to continue once the students return to campus!
Since joining ExtraFood as a volunteer food runner in October 2018, Dennis has completed more than 600 trips, rescuing over 45,000 pounds of food for the vulnerable people we serve in Marin County. In 2020 alone, he has completed more than 400 trips, which is the highest number of food trips completed in just one year by ANY volunteer on our team! Dennis delivers food from local organizations such as Safeway and Trader Joe’s to local nonprofits such as Marin City Senior Center, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Sausalito Presbyterian Church, Marin Services for Men, and People’s Inter-Cities Fellowship.
Dennis was one of the first volunteers to step up and volunteer by delivering food with our new COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Dennis wanted to ensure that our mission could continue by doubling the number of food trip shifts he completed each week. Dennis was one of ExtraFood’s “go-to” volunteers as we navigated the many changes necessary to keep our mission alive to deliver food to those in need.
One great example of this comes directly from our contact at People’s Inter-Cities Fellowship in Marin City, where Dennis delivers food several times per week. She told me that Dennis is “dedicated, dependable, kind and has a heart of gold – he has been a “God-sent”. One of the deliveries that Dennis makes to People’s is a large Saturday donation from Trader Joe’s, which he does with him lovely wife, Vickie. Together, they drive two large cars filled with an average of 600 pounds of food for People’s to utilize and distribute throughout their community. One particular day, Dennis asked, “What else can I do for your community?” He knew that there were many seniors that were homebound, so he wanted to help even more. On his own, Dennis purchased 30 restaurant meals that he personally delivered to the sick and shut-ins throughout Marin City. He and his wife also found a flower donation at Trader Joe’s and brought the flowers along with the prepared meals. We were told that the seniors were extremely grateful for those meals and the flowers were such a special touch that brightened their day during a very dark time.
Dennis truly embodies ExtraFood’s values, as reflected in our motto: “Food recovery with the human touch.” We feel so fortunate that he has chosen ExtraFood, our partners, and the people we are serving together as the grateful recipients of his boundless generosity, enormous impact, and exemplary service. It is an honor to work with Dennis, whose personal ambition is to be of service to others in his very humble way. We thank you for your devoted time, energy and generous heart to those in need throughout the community of Marin - Congratulations Dennis on being ExtraFood’s Volunteer of the Year!
North Bay Children’s Center - Tinker Way Site
Parents everywhere are having to adapt to the evolving changes brought on by COVID-19. The pandemic has particularly exacerbated the challenges that low-income families with children face on a daily basis, which has increased their need for psychological, nutritional and educational support. Knowing the additional challenges their families are facing, North Bay Children’s Center’s Tinker Way site in Novato is an ExtraFood recipient partner that continues to support their families with extra care and kindness. Typically they serve 56 families—30-35 kids per day, ages 6-11—of which 90% are low-income. Currently, in their reduced on-site capacity, they are working with 24 children but are still serving all their families with “open arms” in a variety of ways.
ExtraFood started a food program with Tinker Way 3 ½ years ago. Annette and Brent Knipe, lead staff members at Tinker Way, commented, “The food deliveries, which arrive three times a week, put big smiles on our families’ faces. We assemble boxes of food from the food that ExtraFood brings and our families are always grateful for this additional support. We are like a big, extended family who continues to support all of our families, past and present, in any way we can.” ExtraFood is proud to partner with this wonderful organization that wholeheartedly embraces their mission to serve young families in their community.