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WVCS Park-It Market Program Continues to Grow

The Park-It Market, the WVCS mobile food pantry, has expanded its reach to an additional school site this year, the Anderson Elementary School in San Jose. The program, decked out in its recognizable blue food truck, has been providing free fresh produce, meat, dairy products, dry goods, and canned food to clients at local community locations in West San Jose, Los Gatos and Saratoga. Nearly 500 households visit the various market sites on a weekly basis. Beginning in February 2022, 80 households began participating in the program through the WVCS partnership with the Moreland School District and Anderson Elementary School in San Jose.


The Anderson Elementary School student body is largely comprised of families struggling in the face of food and housing insecurity. 70% of the school’s student body is eligible to participate in the free and reduced lunch program, so the need for food support services is high among students and their families.


Anderson Principal Tasha Quinonez said, "I am so grateful for our partnership with WVCS’ Park-It Market. Our community is able to come to campus and leave with fresh produce, milk, and meat, on top of shelf-stable foods such as cereals and rice. Families are able to select foods they would like to try plus foods they know their families enjoy. There is a community feeling around the food pantry as it is set up like a farmer's market so that people feel welcome.”



MEETING THE NEED IN CREATIVE WAYS


One of the things Donald Akimoto, Assistant Manager of the Park-It Market, noticed is that there are children participating in Anderson’s after school program that needed a way to pick up food on behalf of their whole family. In response, the team developed a process for younger family members to pick-up groceries and bring them home safely to their families.


Donald tells the story of Owen, a 7 year old Anderson Elementary School student who was participating in the after-school program: “Owen was patiently waiting in the long line to speak with one of our staff members. When he made it to the front of the line, he tried the best that a 7-year old could to explain how he was here to pick-up groceries for his mother and their household. We verified his mother’s completed forms and asked Owen to bring an after-school staff member over, ensuring the program had space to safely store and refrigerate some of the groceries. The Park-It Market team was able to give Owen and his mom: 1 grocery bag of fruits, vegetables, canned goods, dry goods (bread, rice, beans), and a bag with a full-frozen chicken, 1 dozen eggs, and ½ gallon of milk, cooking oil, and a box of cereal - and we look forward to continuing to see Owen at the Park-It Market.”

This creative approach to food support only came together because of the partnership between WVCS, the Anderson School team, and the after school program - all working together to fight hunger and homelessness. This is what it means to be part of a caring and compassionate community!


The Park-It Market Program is possible thanks to the generous support of Santa Clara County, Bank of America, PwC, Kaiser Permanente, and Mercury News Wishbook.




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