For some people, California is a wonderful place to live and work. But it's not so great for too many children and their families who have a hard time making ends meet with our skyhigh cost of living. One of the sad realities we face is that California has the highest number of children, and the highest percentage of children, living in poverty of any state in the nation. 
One way White Pony Express is taking on the problem of ending hunger for low-income children and their families in Contra Costa County is through partnering with public schools in underserved communities to set up regular weekly deliveries of groceries that are distributed free of charge via our "School Pantry" program.
This year, in addition to the six School Pantry programs already in place, we have been able to open three new school pantries, thanks to funding from Impact Diablo Valley.
The three new schools are Ford Elementary in Richmond that opened in April and a shared School Pantry for two schools in the Antioch School District: Antioch Middle and Fremont Elementary, which opened just last week to coincide with the start of the new school year.
The most recent two School Pantries are the first of their kind food distribution program in the Antioch School District, making it possible for parents and caregivers at both schools to select and take home fresh food and produce every Monday and Wednesday, our delivery days.
While all WPE School Pantries are set up at schools with 80% of more children on free or reduced lunch programs, an astounding 100% of the students at Fremont Elementary School and Antioch Middle School are on either a free or reduced lunch program. For many students, school lunches are their only dependable meal of the day. Food at home can be scarce, especially fresh fruits and vegetables and other perishable and organic produce, meats, and dairy. Many of our neighboring communities have little or no access to the abundance that many of us take for granted at Bay Area grocery stores and markets. Families need help filling the gaps for weekday and weekend meals at home and our pantries help meet these critical basic food needs.
The food we receive from our food sourcing partners like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Concord Produce, Starbuck's, Imperfect Produce, Safeway and so many more is delivered free of charge through our Food Rescue program ensuring children have the food they need to grow, to learn, to know they are cared for.
Lindsay Lopez –Wisely, Principal of Antioch Middle School, shared
"Antioch Middle School is so proud to be partnering with White Pony Express. Providing our student's families access to quality food is outstanding.
We are pleased to be a community school that supports all families and promotes health and wellness through various resources such as the White Pony Express Food fresh food giveaway every Wednesday.
The smiles on our families faces provides more than nutrition, it gives peace of mind.”
Antioch Middle School’s Leadership Class is also getting involved. Every Wednesday students from this class of young people set up the pantry and stay after school to assist in running it, demonstrating how an entire school can get behind caring for everyone in the community and living out “All of us taking care of all of us.”
This past Monday, the first day the new pantry was open, White Pony Express delivered just under 1,450 pounds of fresh food and produce to Fremont Elementary. On Wednesday, close to 1,500 pounds of fresh food and produce went to Antioch Middle School families. In the first week alone, a total of 150 families received groceries from our new shared school pantry, equating to 600 to 750 people – children and their families.
In a recent conversation with White Pony Express Food Rescue Operations Manager, Helen Jones, Patricia Cuevas, School Community Outreach Worker Meanwhile at Ford Elementary in Richmond explains how the goodness keeps coming.
“The service you are able to provide our school's community is invaluable. Many of our families are faced with a daily challenge of providing the basic necessities to their children.
Your assistance goes a long way to allowing them to provide healthy, well balanced meals for their children and taking one stressor away from parents.”
WPE’s unique program model has become a safe, stable source of fresh food for many families in our County’s public schools. Once open, a White Pony Express School Pantry serve all families with children at the school site. Families do not need to provide any ID, proof of address or paperwork to participate. Nor do they have to travel anywhere special to receive food - the distributions are set up on-site at the schools or nearby community centers in the summers, making it convenient and comfortable for parents. WPE school pantries serve mostly children of the working poor, parents who often work multiple jobs yet still have a household income of less than $40,000 a year. In Contra Costa County, a staggering 40% of our children (72,347) live in these working poor households  and 40,000 children don't get enough to eat.
While the food we distribute across all of Contra Costa is donated, in order to keep these School Pantries open, financial support is required to fund operating costs and to be able to provide year round services. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to talk about how your business or organization can support this important work. Of course, individual contributions are the fuel that powers everything we do. Your contribution can be directed to the Food Rescue program or any of the other White Pony Express programs by donating today.
A monthly donation of as little as $25 per month will make a huge difference in the lives of so many each year.
To read about another of our School Pantry programs and its impact, click here.