Helping Others

‘Independence from Hunger’ campaign begins Saturday

In addition to providing students with free lunches over the summer, organizations in south Sacramento are teaming up to make sure that families are also fed.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released data indicating that 48.1 million Americans live in food-insecure households, with 15.3 million of these individuals being children.

In the Mack Road Business Corridor, more than 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches during the school year. But when school’s out, lunchtime becomes an additional burden for parents. The Mack Road Partnership has been working with the Elk Grove Unified School District to supply free lunch throughout the week to people 18 and younger, and free dinner to all community members Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through the Sacramento Summer Night Lights program.

Nathan Ulsh, deputy director of the Mack Road Partnership, said the organization noticed a gap Sundays through Wednesdays.

This month, the Mack Road Partnership and Elk Grove Unified School District will partner with the Grocery Outlet at 7923 E. Stockton Blvd. to ensure that community families have healthy food for dinner, a campaign called “Independence from Hunger.”

“This fundraiser specifically will the be the sixth annual for Grocery Outlet, and this is the first year we’ve done it with them,” Ulsh said. “Last year they did 500 bags (of food) and so this year we’re going to shoot for 650.”

The bags, which will be filled with enough food to provide multiple dinners for a family of four, will be sold for a donation of $5. As people proceed through checkout stands at Grocery Outlet on Saturday, cashiers will ask customers if they’d like to donate $5 toward a food bag. On the first day of the fundraiser, those who donate will have the chance to win free gifts and raffle prizes. The fundraiser will continue through July.

Jenni Walker, co-owner of the Grocery Outlet on East Stockton Boulevard, said Independence from Hunger is an event the corporation holds at its 253 locations.

“It started when the person who founded it saw that food banks were very active in doing holiday dinners,” Walker said. “But then during the summer, when kids are at home, there are never any fundraisers. So they wanted to do this one during the summer to help families feed when all the members are home 24/7.”

Walker said each store gets to choose an organization with which to partner. In past years, Walker’s Grocery Outlet store has held the fundraiser with groups such as the South Sacramento Christian Center. Walker said she is excited to be working with the Mack Road Partnership this year.

The organization already provides lunches to students in the afternoon. Walker and her husband on Thursday put together 200 food bags, which included pasta noodles, pasta sauce, a vegetable and nonperishables such as rice and beans.

At Saturday’s kickoff at the East Stockton Boulevard store, Ulsh said there will be food trucks, music and local and political leaders in attendance.

“It’s just going to be an uplifting experience,” he said.

Tyler Foggatt: 916-321-1145, @tylerfoggatt