More Food for Thought

Area of Focus: Food & Nutrition, Health Care, Women & Children

Lead Club Name: Redding

Lead Rotarian: Malain, Kathy

Year: 2022-23

Project Budget: $30,000.00

DDF Grant Amount: $14,000.00

The goal of the More Food for Thought grant is to help relieve childhood hunger by providing nutritious weekend meals to students during the school year. “Food insecurity” describes households that are so financially stretched that they cannot guarantee regular meals for all household members. Redding Rotary will work together with Redding-Riverview Sunset Rotary in Redding, and Anderson Rotary, in Anderson, to provide children in Redding, Enterprise, Pacheco, Happy Valley Elementary, and Cascade Union school districts with a weekend bag of 10 to 11 items of non-perishable, high-protein food, including a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of fresh bread from the Franz Bakery outlet every other Thursday. These will be in sufficient number to feed the children the schools have identified as needing weekend food assistance–usually 10 – 20 bags per school. The eight schools from three school districts currently participating from the Redding (west), Enterprise (east) and Pacheco School Districts have some of the most impoverished clientele who are “food insecure” over the weekends (see enclosed charts in Documents). These children are usually eligible for the National School Lunch programs and may also be recommended by their teachers. Anderson is joining us this year; we will be mentoring them in our model as they contact the principals in the Happy Valley and Cascade Union School districts, to invite them to join the More Food for Thought Program. Every other week during the school year, these bags of snacks and meals are delivered to the schools to be handed out to children directly by staff members to their backpacks, or to a parent. All bags will be assembled by a Rotarian and his or her family and delivered the day they are sent home with the children; there is no need for the schools to supply any storage of food bags. Food insecurity is widespread in Shasta County and has been linked to delayed physical and mental development, chronic health problems, increased behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, and bullying. All of these affect a child’s ability to learn or productively engage in school activities. This bag of food helps to sustain them over the weekend when they are away from the guaranteed two meals at school Monday through Friday, so on Monday they can engage in learning and not be preoccupied with an empty stomach. Redding Rotary applied for the original Food for Thought grant in June of 2020 for the purpose of providing food to “food insecure families” whose homes and businesses were decimated by the Carr Fire and the Camp Fire (many of the Paradise residents relocated to Redding after most of the town’s homes and businesses were burned). In the beginning of the 2019 Rotary year, all of our Redding Rotary Club presidents (there are five clubs in Redding–Redding Rotary, Sunset Rotary, Sunrise Rotary, Rotary East, and Rotary West) received a flyer entitled “Food for Thought” seeking funding to purchase, bag, and deliver food to food insecure families in Redding. Redding Rotary and Riverview Sunset Rotary each donated $5,000 to what we believed was a non-profit organization for that purpose between 2019-2020. Our club President wanted our grant committee to write a grand to support the agency. Upon doing research for the grant, we discovered that Food for Thought was, in fact, one Redding woman and her husband who had been raising funds and bagging and delivering food for nine years. When approached, they were delighted, but indicated that they no longer were available for the manpower piece, either. We created a committee of our Redding Rotarians and planned to take over purchasing, bagging, and delivering. We envisioned working with our local Rotaract and Interacts Clubs (there are four associated with Redding high schools). Since sustainability depends on finances and manpower, we also planned to approach some of our local nonprofits to take over the funding. Federal Economic Data. Of the 166,871 residents of Shasta County, 18.1% had income levels below the poverty line within the past year. It was only slightly less before the widespread loss of health, work, school, and economic hardship inflicted on Shasta County by Covid-19. In 2022, Redding Rotary was responsible for writing the Food for Thought District Grant with the intention of creating a vehicle for supplementing food insecure families for two years until families were all rehoused after the fires. It was our intent for our high school Interact Programs to provide much of the manpower to bag and deliver the food bags. With our Non-profit agencies flush with emergency funds to provide families with food after the fires, we hoped to convince them to take over the program at the end of the grant in June, 2022. With the advent of COVID-19 coming to Redding, the schools primarily began in 2020 with virtual learning with the children watching zoom videos of their teachers from home. When students were allowed to return to class, it was all the local schools could do to keep children in seats, with frequent groups of children being quarantined at home due to a student or staff member unwittingly exposing a class of students to the disease. Rotarians were unable to safely enter the schools to work with students and teachers, so we weren’t able to include Interact or Rotaract as planned for the following two years. Since the first cases of COVID-19 began to surface in Redding in March of 2020, 36,898 residents have contracted the virus in Redding, California, and 641 people have died of the disease. This is exacerbated by the fact that of the people eligible for vaccinations in our county, only 46.7% are fully vaccinated. The only County in California with a lower rate is Modoc County. The hospitals and emergency rooms have been overflowing with COVID-19 patients, most of whom were not vaccinated. Then as the end of the school year approached, it was clear that our overburdened non-profit agencies were not going to be able to adopt this project at this time. The need for developing a professional marketing video toward achieving this goal also became apparent. On April 2, 2022, our grant committee wrote an Interim update to our original Interim Report dated June 6, 2021, asking permission from the Rotary District Grant Committee to get an extension on our current grant until the end of August, and to move allocated money to the development of our marketing video to attract other Rotarians to get involved, more principals of schools to participate, and ultimately, convince our non-profit organizations in Redding to adopt the program. We had more unspent money than anticipated because we were initially very frugal, and occasionally could not deliver to schools because so many children and teachers were home sick that they didn’t want to receive our deliveries. Therefore, we also asked and were granted permission to purchase Winco gift cards with any money leftover in the grant in June of 2022 to be distributed to the participating families to aid them in purchasing food and other necessities during the upcoming summer. (The Winco gift cards expressly forbid purchase of alcohol or tobacco). As of June 2022, we have $4,688.20 left for gift cards.

<< Project Showcase