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Each week, nearly 1,000 Fruitvale families and seniors wait in line at the Fruitvale Transit Village to receive bagged groceries at no cost. Over the last few months, the distribution line continues to grow.

To help fill the gap, we’ve recently partnered with our sister organizations in San Francisco to increase food access for Fruitvale and East Oakland residents.

With donated food from Mission Food Hub, The Unity Council now offers a second free community food distribution day each week, doubling the number of families served per week.

Launched in February 2021, the additional food distribution allows residents to receive grocery boxes filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, yogurt, and nonperishable foods such as rice and beans. Roberto Hernandez, founder of Mission Food Hub said after his organization began to see Oakland families at his Mission District operation, he reached out to The Unity Council’s CEO Chris Iglesias to “spread the love.”

Chris Iglesias, CEO of The Unity Council says though it marks one year since the start of the pandemic, the demand is greater than ever. “This thing isn’t over,” said Iglesias. “We’re still seeing food insecurity and needs on the basics. The people in line are seniors and families with children. We cannot allow any of them to go hungry.”

On any given week, more than 2,000 families receive food, from home-bound seniors at our three senior apartments, families of our Head Start or youth programs, clients receiving supportive services from our organization, and individuals from the community.

Many visit our food distribution because of the availability of fresh produce and culturally relevant foods at no cost, its centralized location in the heart of Fruitvale, and because our services are available in Spanish and Mam and reflect the Latinx community.

Undocumented folks are ineligible for public assistance programs like Cal-Fresh (also known as food stamps), which is why food distribution programs like ours are vital. Our team makes every effort to communicate to the community that the food is available to everyone regardless of income, age, zip code, or immigration status.

This collaboration is an uplifting reminder of how all things are possible when working together for the common goal – getting communities fed. “Community-based organizations are really stepping up to the needs of the community,” said Iglesias. “San Francisco is helping Oakland. It’s great that the food is coming here.”

Special thanks to Mission Food Hub, Latino Task Force, the Housing Coalition, Peralta Service Corporation, and Drysbeck Industries for partnering with us to bridge access to quality food in Oakland.