Thanksgiving is so close you can almost taste it, which means it’s time to start thinking about not only your plate but the plates of your neighbors as well. A community where everyone’s tables are bountifully (and healthily) set for the holiday season is a community with integrity, compassion and kindness.
North Marin Community Services (NMCS) demonstrates this with its weekly food pantry, open to low-income Novato residents every Tuesday afternoon between 1 and 3pm. Healthy foods are provided to food pantry clients, including produce, dairy, canned and dried foods, as well as a protein.
“Food insecurity is something I’ve seen on the rise, especially in the past year,” said NMCS CEO Cheryl Paddack. “We know that access to healthy food is critical in order for people to succeed, live and work. Our purpose is to see that vulnerable people have access to basic needs. We’ve been able to keep up because of our partnerships and our donors, especially our partnership with the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. We’ve tripled in size over the past 10 years, and our budget is the highest it’s been in our 50-year history.”
NMCS has a team of eight case managers, all bi-lingual and bi-cultural, and is able to serve over 2,000 individuals (569 households). In the past year, they have given over 14,000 bags to families in need. This amounts to 337,000 pounds of food distributed in the past year at the Novato location, the equivalent of $558,000.
“The holidays, pandemic and inflation are a huge part of why families are feeling so stretched, and just being able to have a resource like this to help those families is so valuable,” said Liliana Palu, community support services manager for NMCS.
“The special part of living in Novato is seeing the collaborative efforts of people coming together to serve those in need,” said Paddack. “Lots of people think of Marin as a wealthy county, but the wealth disparity is growing. Addressing food insecurity and ensuring people have a warm meal over the holidays is really critical, and that’s the role that we want to play, to take away some of those stressors so that people can have those things during this time of uncertainty.”
NMCS’s weekly food pantry is located at 1907 Novato Blvd. in Novato. Those who would like to register for the North Marin Community Services Food Pantry are asked to register online or come during client hours to the Novato Blvd. location. For more information, visit the website at northmarincs.org/food-assistance/weekly-food-pantry.