Jocelyn Foreman, BUSD’s Site Coordinator for Family Engagement and Equity at Malcolm X and John Muir Schools in Berkeley, and Kristin Weinberger of the John Muir School PTA, make a dynamic duo, coordinating a mobile food pantry for families of students at John Muir and Malcolm X Schools.
The Family Engagement and Equity office is “all about removing barriers to student success,” says Foreman. If a student’s family needs help with housing, utilities, health services, transportation or food, Foreman connects them to available resources.
Foreman says of the effort to get more and healthier food to school families, “The pantry is my baby. People told me this couldn’t happen, and I said, why not? I wrote a proposal to the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) for a mobile food pantry three and a half years ago and I knew I would need to be patient.”
ACCFB was not able to provide space for a pantry, but connected Jocelyn to Sara Webber of BFN, who pulled together the necessary resources to establish a mobile pantry. At that point Foreman says, “We went in all gas, no brakes.” Foreman and Weinberger mustered parent volunteers to help with the many details and the mobile food pantry went live.
Webber, first as Executive Director of the Berkeley Food Pantry, and now as Executive Director at BFN, has helped increase the amount and quality of food and number of families served, says Weinberger. “Sara figured out a way to make the mobile pantry happen by partnering with the North and South Berkeley Senior Centers. Thanks to this partnership, we now have enough clients for the food bank to provide us with food, and a space, through the South Berkeley senior center.” The John Muir and Malcom X PTAs, the Senior Centers, and BFN all provide volunteers to operate the mobile pantry, which also serves seniors from both the North and South Berkeley Senior Centers, in addition to families from John Muir and Malcolm X.
Weinberger says of Foreman, “She’s a big-picture person with a strong vision of how we can better serve the families in need in our school communities. I’m relentlessly detail-oriented and accurate — we balance each other out!”
According to Foreman, the pantry started by serving 10 families at John Muir School, then 50, then 80. At times the mobile food pantry now serves as many as 125 families at Malcolm X and John Muir Schools. The pantry offers groceries for holidays and school vacations and produce 2 Fridays a month. “We’ve ratcheted up our service level again this year with the help of Jocelyn Foreman,” says Weinberger.