April 14, 2010 > Welcome to the Milpitas Food Pantry
Welcome to the Milpitas Food Pantry
By Dustin Findley
The Milpitas Food Pantry offers food assistance and emergency food for households on a low income, fixed income or without an income. According to Milpitas Food Pantry's Director Karen Kolander, until this year, most clients were senior citizens. The depressed economy has increased the number of families who use the service.
"The popular perception is that the Food Pantry serves the homeless. In reality, the homeless account for a very small percentage of clients," Kolander explained. "Almost all families come from Milpitas and Alviso. A few come from Fremont and San Jose because of we have been recommended by social services or local clergy."
"The first time anybody visits, we give them food. We don't turn anyone away for any reason at all," said Kolander.
If the Food Pantry cannot help, the agency's policy is to help clients find a program that works.
There is an application and registration process to complete before receiving Food Pantry services. Although applicants "self-certify" their details, the Food Pantry is aware of the income-levels of different occupations. They are higher than many might think because the Bay Area is expensive.
"If you're struggling, there's a very good chance you'd qualify to be part of our program" said Kolander.
The Food Pantry also provides clothes including a school uniform section and formal wear for job seekers.
Volunteers and donors sustain the Food Pantry. It is staffed entirely by volunteers. Many teens help to satisfy their community service requirement for high school graduation and some continue to do so after graduation. Kolander believes that if everyone volunteered two hours each month, the world would be a much better place.
The Food Pantry is always looking for volunteers. Truck-owners are especially welcome. Volunteers are needed when the Food Pantry is open to clients and closed. When closed, staff sort food, check expiration dates, arrange clothing, organize and keep the premises clean.
"It's tremendous fun to work here and know you're doing something heartfelt that makes a difference in the community. It's all about the community, the source of most of our funding," said Kolander.
Kolander is working to expand services. She would like to roll out a program to provide children, who normally rely on school lunches, with healthy food when school is not in session, job-hunting advice, including interview practice and resume review; a "produce mobile" to deliver fresh produce regularly and story time to stimulate young people's interest in reading.
"We're trying to empower people so they leave this system in the long-run. Right now we're here to give the food they need," said Kolander. "There is nothing more important than making sure people aren't hungry and there are many community members who are really struggling."
Opening hours are Monday - Thursday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Thursday (6 - 8 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.). Closed Friday and Sunday.
To volunteer, email desired dates and times to volunteer@MilpitasFoodPantry.org. Drop-off food and clothing donations during opening hours; email any questions about what the Food Pantry will accept, and general enquiries, to karen@MilpitasFoodPantry.org. Please send financial donations to Milpitas Food Pantry, PO Box 360061, Milpitas, CA 95306.
Milpitas Food Pantry
196 South Main St., Milpitas