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St. Anselm’s Food Pantry Partnership Fills the Need for Healthy Food Access and Nutrition Security

| California

Apr 21, 2022

“We serve from the heart.” - Marcos Cumplido, St. Anselm’s Food Pantry Coordinator

Summary

St. Anselm’s Food Pantry is now able to serve more people with extended hours and more nutritious foods. Through coordination with partners, they installed refrigeration equipment, maintained a safe setting during the COVID 19 pandemic, and provided resources and signage so clients feel comfortable visiting the Pantry. Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA), CalFresh Healthy Living staff provided recipes and nutrition education. The Pantry clients are now able to prepare healthy meals with the food they receive. Clients can also obtain additional food for their families thanks to referrals to food assistance programs.

Challenge 

St. Anselm’s Food Pantry serves a diverse community in Garden Grove, California.  Providing more fresh food while also responding to the surge in clients due to COVID were pantry priorities.  However, with a limited food supply and the need for cold storage, the Pantry was struggling to meet the community needs for healthy food.

Solution

To better understand the strengths and needs of the Pantry, the Healthy Food Pantry Assessment Tool & Client Needs Assessment was completed by HCA staff, pantry staff, and clients. Based on feedback received from the assessment, these were items of interest: increasing access to fresh food, nutrition education, information on food dates, and resources to ensure a safe environment. HCA and St. Anselm partnered with local agencies to help make this happen.

Second Harvest Food Bank provided additional food to meet the increased need through the Emergency Food Assistance Program. This included fresh produce as well as shelf-stable foods. The Pantry Coordinator reached out to local vendors for fresh food donations.

boxes of shelf stable foods

Abound Food Care supplied refrigeration equipment purchased through a grant program. This improved the food safety and reduced waste, allowing more clients to be served.

zucchini growning in garden

The Pantry began a garden to stock the pantry with fresh produce.

HCA provided services supporting a healthy and safe environment including:

  • Connecting the Pantry to Second Harvest Food Bank to increase healthy food supply 
  • Providing the link to Abound Food Care for refrigeration equipment
  • Supplying recipes to help clients prepare the food received in the Pantry
  • Posting displays featuring tips for healthy eating and food date information
  • Providing Rethink Your Drink and Snack Healthy booths to help clients make healthier choices
  • Sharing the Food Assistance in Orange County flyer linking families with food assistance programs in the area
  • Supplying COVID resources and signs to keep staff and clients safe
  • Providing pre-COVID taste testing featuring pantry foods

“With motivation and support of our partners and working together for many years, we have accomplished a milestone.” - Gina Navarro and Shabnam Barati, CalFresh Healthy Living Staff


Sustaining Success

St. Anselm’s plans to continue participation in the Second Harvest Food Bank Program and partnering with local vendors for healthy donations. Abound Food Care will provide additional refrigeration and freezer space further increasing cold storage capacity. The Pantry Coordinator is seeking volunteers to help maintain the garden. HCA will continue to provide resources for recipes, nutrition tips, and displays and once able, resume food demonstrations and taste tests. 

smiling employee holds certificate

St. Anselm’s Episcopal Church Food Pantry received silver certification from the Leah’s Pantry Nutrition Pantry Program, becoming a part of a nationwide network of healthy food pantries. This acknowledgment recognizes the work done by pantry staff to help the local community and create a healthy and safe environment. Marcos Cumplido, the Pantry Coordinator, was also recognized as an Orange County Champion for going above and beyond to help Orange County families.

Pantry staff group photo

Contact information

Gina Osborne, Supervising Public Health Nutritionist, Nutrition Services, Orange County Health Care Agency
Phone: 714-834-8579
Program Website: Saint Anselm’s Food Pantry 
Organization Website: OC Health Care Agency, Nutrition Services