It’s 3 p.m. and dozens of Grant Huskies and their parents, grandparents and caretakers pile into the school’s multi-purpose room to check out Second Harvest’s Mobile Food Bank.
For the kids, it’s a chance to get free folders, granola bars and swag from Robert Martin, a United Health Care vendor who’s stopped by to encourage families to sign up for the company’s Apple Health plans. For their parents, it’s the difference between going hungry and having enough to last the rest of the month.
Two girls exclaim over a brown paper package of French Fries. One boy, with his mother in tow, asks if he can take two notebooks.
“Do you guys like to eat fruit and veggies?” Martin asks a group gathered in front of his table, picking out Band-Aids and free pencils. “Who knows how to do jumping jacks?”
Second Harvest AmeriCorps volunteers Kylie Pybus and Rebekah Deibler unloaded boxes of pears, clementines, romaine lettuce, granola bars and bread from Second Harvest’s Mobile Kitchen van parked outside. A sample table is set up with paper cups of homemade hummus and crackers in a push to get kids to try healthy food that tastes good.
Ten volunteers show up to open boxes and sort produce. Most of them hail from Highland Park, a local Methodist church.
“We were already volunteering and being mentors,” said Mary, one of the volunteers. The school counselor at the time encouraged the group to help out at the mobile food bank since it began at Grant three years ago, and they’ve been there ever since, helping set up, clean up and hand out food to thousands of children and families.
Samantha and her grandmother, Linda, move through the line, filling up their bags with staples like bread, cereal and produce. Samantha is captivated by the pile of fresh school supplies at the end of the line. “Can I have a blue one?” she asks Linda.
“This is her second year [at Grant],” Linda said. “This comes in handy when you’re a little low.”
Bob, a Navy veteran, was at Grant picking out loaves of bread and granola bars to fill his box. He appreciates the Mobile Food Bank because it helps him feed his family, which is growing, even though he’s retired.
“This is very helpful. My daughter just moved in with two of my grandkids and now more of us need to eat,” he said. “Retirement isn’t everything they told me it would be.”
The Grant Mobile Food Bank served 110 families with approximately 1,600 pounds of fresh food February 16, Pybus and Deibler reported.