Addressing Food Insecurity through Economic Partnerships

Health Education Council Team – Peggy Agron, Roxana Garcia-Ochoa (program administrator) and Debra Oto-Kent (founder/executive director)
June 25, 2020

In response to unprecedented food insecurity needs as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, cities in the Sacramento, California region grappled with how to meet these needs. The City of Roseville is located about 20 miles east of Sacramento in Placer County, and like many cities, food insecurity rose to an all-time high with the Placer Food Bank reporting double the amount of individuals served since before the pandemic. In addition, the abrupt closure of businesses, including restaurants, caused a cascading effect of workforce reductions and economic loss. Restaurants are key economic drivers of local cities. The Family Meal Roseville program offered an opportunity to help to address food needs with restaurants’ expertise and capacity to feed to families in need. When Roseville learned of a program to address both needs, it began exploring possibilities to offer it in their city. Because of a longstanding partnership with the Health Education Council (HEC) to improve health outcomes in Roseville’s core neighborhoods, the city asked HEC to lead the program.

The Family Meal Roseville program provides meals for vulnerable community members; helps small businesses, local farmers, and vendors in the region stay in business; and leverages the city’s transportation and volunteer resources. Grants from the City of Roseville, the Placer Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, Roseville Rotary, Roseville Firefighters Association, Sutter Health, individual donations, and in-kind support provided funding for community meals. Seven local restaurants participated in the program, which are all located in Roseville and many have a history of community service. Each nutritious meal kit could feed a family of four. Restaurants were reimbursed for their costs and families or at-risk seniors received meals at no cost. Meal distributions were conducted five days a week throughout the City of Roseville at six low-income housing communities and four Title-1 schools, which fed hungry families and isolated seniors in need. A limited number of home deliveries were also made.