Respecting Our Elders is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 charity organized primarily to collect and distribute free food to needy seniors and others in Marin County.
Our mission is to:
• Eradicate hunger and poverty in Marin, building more community in the process.
• Provide a means for food purveyors to lighten their environmental footprint.
• Establish a viable model to do the above throughout the United States.
How we got started
The group was formed in July, 2005 by a couple of concerned residents of the subsidized housing development at the Villas at Hamilton in Novato, Ruth Schwartz and Curt Kinkead, who became aware that some of their neighbors were not getting enough to eat and decided to do something about it.
In starting the food program, their goal was to reduce the amount of money a participating resident in the Villas at Hamilton would have to pay per month for food to less than $100 (with the neediest paying almost nothing).
The goal was achieved over eight years ago, with help from a number of local large and small supermarkets, as well as other food perveyors who wanted to make sure that the dated food they had to take off their shelves, the produce that was a little too ripe to sell, and the grocery items that had damaged packaging got to people who could use the food right away.
Serving the Underserved
We are also taking care of a population that is severely underserved – the lower-income elders of our community. These are, in most cases, people who would not qualify for food stamps. Yet in this economy, their income does not cover all of their needs. Many of them are barely making it on their Social Security checks, and we have a number of stories about how they are able to make the rent check more easily each month, or do something special out with friends – just because they are getting some free food through us. What we are finding is that people are moving from living in scarcity and survival to abundance and prosperity, where prosperity is where you are so filled up that you have enough to pass on and take care of others.
Above all, Respecting Our Elders is building community by forcing complexes to come together as communities to deal with the incoming food, and it is these unfettered communities that do the distribution, making a profound difference in the lives of entire complexes of the most underserved needy in our society today.
Every Week Distribution
On a weekly basis, we are currently distributing food to three open Food Days (Bolinas, Novato and San Rafael), and we also bring food to New Beginnings, Ritter Center, West Marin Community Resources and Food for Families in Bolinas. We are also serving six lower income housing complexes, and we are actively looking for additional food donors so we can restart our weekly deliveries to the other seventeen locations we have served in the past.