Another first-generation farmer who grows with her two daughters for the Food Bank.

One of the first-generation organic farmers growing for the mobile produce truck.

to healthy food. It’s an avalanche of medical management for many of these patients; those trying to manage their conditions who are food insecure were often already struggling to find healthy options in the first place. According to the Food Bank, Monterey County ranks highest among all 58 counties in California in food insecurity and the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. A study from the University of California, San Francisco provided the numbers and the cold hard facts that motivate Kendrick and her team. In the UCSF study, it detailed that 33 percent of hospitalizations in the county are related to complications from Type 2 diabetes; the number rises to 47 percent in the most marginalized areas of Monterey County. The magnitude of the problem can seem daunting. But having this kind of data allows the Food Bank for Monterey County to tackle the most important step in hunger reduction and nutrition education: meeting people where they are. Besides interactions at the distribution centers, there are two programs run by the food bank that highlight the proactive approach about nutrition that Kendrick believes is so vital. The Food Bank’s Family Market Program runs from April through October and provides fresh produce and daily goods to the organization’s service population. The food that is distributed consists of locally-grown produce including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, leeks, lettuce, Portobello mushrooms, scallions and strawberries. Families are able to self-select food they like and need

Mario (center) runs the mobile produce program covering 3,700 square miles encompassing all of Monterey County. He’s standing with two members of the Monterey Bay Union Professional Soccer team volunteering at one of the school mobile produce markets paired with the healthy free food truck.

from the bountiful available options; there are no pre-packaged bags. Each market serves 200-400 people and each household receives approximately 50-100 lbs. of food. And, much like the Food Bank’s distribution center, it serves a dual purpose. The Family Market provides an ideal venue to receive information on nutrition as well as health and human services programs available to low-income Monterey County residents. In addition, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Kubota Tractor Corporation, the food bank is now building a community farm. Named the 5-Acre Farm, the goal is to create hands-on experiences for students in the Salinas Valley to see the connection between food, nutrition and

community. Teaching children the value of healthy eating when they are young will, hopefully, create a throughline to good health that will last the rest of their lives. “We think about where the money is going in the United States, where resources are wasted to unnecessary hospitalizations,” Kendrick said. “At the end of the day, we are the largest medicine cabinet for this community.” If you or your company are interested in working with the Food Bank of Monterey County, please contact CEO & Executive Director Melissa Kendrick at mkendrick@ food4hungry.org.



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