Harding University Partnership School (HUPS)’s Healthy Community Food Pantry is celebrating it’s 3-year anniversary of existence! Roberto Plasencia coordinates the Food Pantry as an employee of the FoodBank of Santa Barbara, and he proudly states that he has never missed a Food Pantry day yet. I have had the privilege of assisting Roberto by helping to coordinate the service providers from the community prior to the event and the day of the Food Pantry. Since June 2018, we have seen the number of families served (over the summertime while the HUPS Multi-Purpose Room was being remodeled) from 30 to 80+ families. We have also gone from 3 service-providers up to 15. We will be instituting a rotation schedule to avoid any duplication of services, and to keep the flow of families going through the lines. We also don’t want information overload to be an issue for individuals. The goal is to serve 90-100 families by June. From there, we hope we can expand our wellness program to provide a variety of wellness services on a weekly basis.
One gentleman who regularly attends the HUPS Healthy Community Food Pantry has had a particularly memorable experience to date. Two months ago he came to the Food Pantry and mentioned to me that he was facing cancer surgery the next day and was nervous. I referred him to the Parish Nurse who was there checking blood pressures and giving out health information. He consulted with her; she gave him information about the surgery and soothed his fears. He reported to me that he felt relieved and peaceful when he left, along with his healthy food.
Last month he returned to the Food Pantry, told me he had undergone the surgery successfully, but now was facing treatment for his cancer and again fearful of the unknown. I encouraged him to see the Parish Nurse again. After he obtained his food, he went to consult with the Parish Nurse, who gave him more information about treatments that might be ordered, and encouraged him to see his surgeon and make an appointment with the Oncologist. He again left with a serene look on his face, promising to follow up with his MD’s. I look forward to seeing him at this month’s Food Pantry to find out the results of his visits.
Our success isn’t always measured in numbers of families served of the amount of healthy food we distribute, but in these human event stories that give evidence that the Food Pantry and all of these health providers provide a holistic care that can’t be found elsewhere on the Westside.
Dana VanderMey, RN, works with SB ACT to support the Foodbank’s monthly Food Pantry event. SB ACT’s Westside Health Collaborative is working with partners like the Foodbank, Family Service Agency, SB Neighborhood Clinics, and more to grow a permanent Family Resource Center on campus for health & wellness service provision.