One of most fun aspects of the merge with SuperFood Drive for me was to dive into the Nutrition Pantry Program. The Nutrition Pantry Program’s purpose is to support client-centered and health-focused food distributions through technical assistance, training, and certification. The immediate opportunity for NPP in San Diego is the connection with the Food Recovery Working Group of the San Diego Food Systems Alliance (we are members and also serve as the fiscal sponsor of this initiative). They had received funding to increase refrigeration capacity of several food pantries and had issued an RFP to find happy homes for these wonderful commercial refrigerators donated by a private donor. Barbara Hamilton, who directs this initiative, and I decided to offer NPP as an additional incentive to the grantees.
Yanira Frias at Community Resource Center of Encinitas was immediately responsive and enthusiastic about participating. NPP already had a relationship with CRC, but it was ready for a reboot and this was the perfect time. Bethany, Barbara and I toured CRC and administered the Healthy Food Pantry Assessment Tool. What an inspiring distribution (we’ve added some photos); I knew right away this site was going to be a bright spot in our network! Thoughtful work, a committed volunteer crew, and dedicated transportation combined to create a 5-day-a-week pantry that prioritizes client choice, variety, and accessibility.
Over the next few months, Yanira and I developed a comprehensive work plan to add activities throughout the six NPP focus areas. Her team participated in training, tweaked the layout of their shop floor, ramped up the work of their volunteer RD, and worked with us to develop new resources. The last piece was to pull it all together into an updated volunteer training. We used this opportunity to do the formal presentation of their gold certification, which really cemented the importance of volunteers in their system!
At the volunteer training event, I enjoyed hearing a few stories shared by the volunteers about their work at CRC. It was touching to hear how this community cares for each other, and how committed everyone is to their work. We are so proud to have CRC be San Diego’s first Gold Certified Pantry!