As we enter this holiday season, most of us are looking forward to spending time with family and friends. This often includes a holiday dinner. However, for many people, there will not be enough food for even a small meal. And we are not talking about people who live in distant places – these are some of our neighbors.
As many of you know, I live one quarter mile from El Camino High School. Over half of the student population there receives free or reduced cost lunches and/or breakfasts. According to the San Diego Food Bank, 1 in 5 children in San Diego County are food insecure, meaning that that there is little or no food at home and those, who are food insecure, do not know where their next meal will come from.
Last year, long time ECHS English teacher, Kathy Easterbrook, decided that she could no longer sit idly by. She noted that some students would have no food from the time they left school in the afternoon until returning on the following morning or worse, from Friday afternoon until Monday morning. As Kathy said to me, “It’s very difficult to feed a student’s mind when his or her stomach is empty”. So, Melodee and I, along with Melissia Brohamer and Kathy’s husband, Clark, joined forces with Kathy to form Nourish North County, Inc. (also known as the El Camino High School Food Pantry).
Our nonprofit organization is a partner of the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank. This allows us to shop for fresh produce and bread products at no charge and to purchase other food at $0.19 per pound. That means that we can purchase fifteen cans of tuna for only a dollar. We are now also stocking some personal hygiene items, such as tooth paste, tooth brushes, soap, shampoo and feminine products.
Eileen Frazier, principal of ECHS, and the Oceanside Unified School District have graciously allowed Kathy to operate the ECHS Food Pantry from her classroom. With a grant from the San Diego Food Bank, we have recently purchased a full size refrigerator-freezer. Each month, over sixty students come to the pantry, to select food for themselves and their families. Several adults, including district employees, know also use the food pantry.
The holiday school breaks are bittersweet for many ECHS students. Of course, what student doesn’t want several weeks off? But, with no school provided lunches nor breakfasts, that also means little food these weeks.
Prior to the holidays, we hope to stock our food pantry so that it is overflowing. We’d love to have every student, in need, pick up as much food as they need to provide themselves and their families with healthy nutrition over the holiday weeks.
Please consider making a tax deductible donation, through PayPal, to the ECHS Food Pantry. $10? $25? $50 - Every dollar helps. It may be the most important and appreciated gift that you give this year.
To make a tax deductible click here!