By Janette Pace
I was raised in Pleasanton in a large family of 6 children. I loved riding my bike around town and walking to school with my friends, but when I got home, I always worried about my next meal. As a child, I didn’t have the words to describe food instability, but I understood that money was tight and we ate very simply.
My mom taught school and worked at a couple of side hustles to help keep the family afloat. To keep enough food on the table to feed her 6 hungry children, we drank powdered milk, ground our own wheat to make bread flour, planted a large garden and started a food co-op with some friends. Every month my mom would drive out to the Central Valley to pick up meat and dairy foods directly from farmers, which she would split with her co-op friends.
When I moved back to Pleasanton as an adult, I heard about OHK through a group of volunteers from my church. We served lunch monthly at the Pleasanton Senior Center. As I reflected on my childhood and my concerns about how my parents would feed my family, I was so pleased to hear that there are organizations here in the Tri-Valley helping people who experience food insecurity and inadequate nutrition. As a child, I didn’t know that anyone else in the Tri-Valley had the same food concerns as our family.
After learning about the Open Heart Kitchen mission, the volunteers, and meeting the staff, I was impressed with the work that Open Heart Kitchen was doing and wanted to get more involved. I joined the board so that I could contribute to finding solutions for food insecurity. Now I’m really excited about this new kitchen project because over the last year and a half we’ve seen demand for our food increase by about 60%, but our production kitchen is insufficient for meeting our current needs. The space is inadequate while the demand for food assistance is only growing. We need a permanent home where we can serve our fellow community members and be a part of the solution for food insecurity.
With this project we will be able to build a kitchen that meets our current needs but also has the flexibility to meet future needs for food and other human services in the Tri-Valley. I’m really excited that we’re partnering with other organizations to create a service center where people who were formerly unhoused or who are considered low income can have a place to live. This will be a center where people who don’t have a place to sleep can come and get some food and find shelter for the night. This will be a center where there will be a clothing closet, laundry, wifi and referrals to other resources to help our fellow community members move themselves to the place where they want to be in life.
I hope that our supporters will continue to give generously and help make possible this new resource center and kitchen. I look forward to creating a place where people can find a free, nutritious meal and take care of their basic needs. Together we have the ability to make a lasting impact and bring hope to all of our neighbors experiencing food insecurity.
Capital Campaign Committee Chair
Open Heart Kitchen Board of Directors
To donate to the New Kitchen, New Hope Campaign, please click here.