Typically, conversations about the unhoused/unsheltered communities center around housing itself, but our focus is on providing them hot nutritious meals. Most of these communities do not have the means to cook or store food they might get from other food-centered nonprofits. People that are food insecure also deal with many health issues that add pressure to the county, state and federal health systems.
“Providing our unhoused neighbors with healthy food not only reduces their food insecurity, but in some cases it increases their stability. So they can address other life challenges.” says Irene Garcia, Senior Program Coordinator and leader of the Food Bank’s Unhoused Workgroup.
Here is why we believe our F.O.O.D. program is vital to the Oakland communities and beyond:
1) We are a mobile emergency meal center/food kitchen and we are able to meet people where they are. We travel to encampments, temporary housing areas, community cabins and permanent housing facilities that have no kitchen and/or access to food storage.
2) Many people in this demographic do not possess the ability to prepare their own meals due to mental health problems and/or physical disabilities. We have the ability to serve people throughout all phases of their transition from being unhoused/unsheltered to finding permanent housing.
3) Our organization offers job training to individuals by having them help us prepare the food we serve. At the end of the training they will receive a certificate of completion and we will connect them with an organizational partner that provides job placement resources to help them find a job.