You Are Not Alone originally started as a one-off delivery effort in April 2020, hoping to help those most deeply affected by the economic and health uncertainty of the global pandemic. We wanted to not just ensure that our communities were fed, we wanted to give them hope and let them know, you are not alone in this.
The first time we did this, our team and especially our Executive Director, Salah Elbakri, spent weeks negotiating with food merchants, importers, and wholesalers to get hold of food staples that were quickly flying off the shelves. Some sellers who had buy limits in place required us to get multiple team members and volunteers to individually cart around gathering supplies several times throughout the day. Our goal was to feed 600 families for a month. If Americans were fighting over toilet paper, imagine how much harder it was to secure foods like rice, flour, beans, canned goods, and cooking oil?
Our dedicated volunteers persevered despite CoVid-19 and collected 600 units of each item on our giant grocery list. The next step was to repack everything into boxes. We set up an assembly line at a local community center, the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center, and spent a weekend packing, taping, and stacking everything together for the final stretch: Delivery.
Due to CoVid-19 stay-home orders, not only were many families and individuals unable to leave their homes, many were also afraid to leave or simply did not have the means to get what they needed because of financial or logistic (food desert) circumstances. So we took names, we took numbers, and we recruited an amazing team of volunteers to take our 80lb boxes in their own cars and deliver them to each recipient’s door.
What makes YANA sets it apart from similar programs?
1 – Volunteer Driven
We access and nurture a strong volunteer base by tapping into the existing goodness and desire to help those around us; communally lifting our society out of hardship in these trying times.
2 – Efficiency
We make the physically tolling process worth the effort by making it as painless as possible for our volunteers and our clients.
3 – Community
We build community trust, recognition, and loyalty at a grassroots level.
4 – Technology
We use technology to streamline the process while keeping overhead to a minimum.
5 – Scalability
We create a system that is scalable to meet the growing client base.
More and more people are suffering from food scarcity, whether they live in food deserts or are under economic duress due to CoVid-19, individuals are having to choose between healthy food and living expenses.
So, the Support Life Foundation developed a community driven weekly food redistribution program powered by volunteers to get fresh food donations to the people who need it most, delivered to their door.
Coordinating across a vast network of localized distribution centers, distribution hubs, and volunteers, we have created system that gets necessary food stuffs to families and individuals faster through a range of services. We still have our core individual volunteer delivery, but now encourage individual and group pick-up from distribution centers as well.
We’ve gained many new partners in this process and are excited to say that we distribute over $2M of food per week, including fresh produce, meat, and dairy 3 times a week across the Bay.
Our weekly food parcel is packaged and provided by our program partner, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. This food parcel includes meat (fresh, frozen), dairy, fresh produce, and pantry items. The total weight of product delivered to each household is about 40lbs. Since this parcel is provided by Second Harvest to meet USDA food security requirements, Support Life Foundation does not have any control over what is packaged inside the parcels. The food is meant to meet federal health guidelines and not specific dietary needs. The recipient must take their own precautions for any allergies or dietary restrictions by reading the food labels.
Our quarterly food parcel is comprised of ethnic imported food products that many immigrant families depending on the regular weekly delivery may not be able to get. This included products such as rice, tea, masa harina, olive oil, lentils, and more. Support Life Foundation purchases these products from wholesalers and importers and packages them ourselves every 3 months into a large 50lb box for each family. These boxes are a special treat for our clients!
Our seasonal and holiday food parcels are whole meat and poultry that meet Halal requirements for many of our Muslim recipients that otherwise cannot always enjoy the proteins provided in the USDA standard weekly parcels. For now, we make these deliveries for Eid-al-Adha and Thanksgiving. We hope to add more holidays as our program grows!