Food Closet celebrates 20 years
Publication Date: Wednesday Oct 30, 1996

COMMUNITY: Food Closet celebrates 20 years

Program gives groceries to low-income folks, led to creation of Urban Ministry

The Food Closet has been serving as a grocery store of sorts for local people with low incomes for 20 years now.

On Friday the Urban Ministry of Palo Alto's Food Closet program is having a private anniversary celebration.

"The longer I've volunteered the more I really see the need for it in the community," said Leslie Maier, a member of the Urban Ministry's executive board.

Volunteers hand out more than 24,000 bags of groceries every year to people who earn less than $700 a month. Recipients can pick up a bag twice a week, and volunteers handle about 90 bags a day. Clients come from East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Mountain View and Palo Alto.

"A lot of our our clients have to make a decision between buying food or medicine, or paying a utility bill," said Food Program Manager Mike Soto.

The program started on Nov. 1, 1976, using donated space at All Saints Episcopal Church on Waverley Street and operating with volunteers from several local churches.

The people who used the program needed more than just food, however, and so in 1984, the Urban Ministry of Palo Alto was born to provide services to the homeless and poor.

When All Saints Episcopal Church remodeled several years ago, it created a separate place for the Food Closet, Maier said. The Food Closet, located at 425 Hamilton Ave., is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The program gets food from donations by individuals, merchants, schools, churches, synagogues, and buys the remainder in bulk from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara County.

--Heather Rock Woods 

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