The Power of a Meal: Nourishing Our Community

In Marin County, ten percent of seniors are food insecure, and another twenty-five percent are at risk of running out of food.


What does someone do when they live alone and are running low on food? What happens when they can’t grocery shop or cook for themselves? What if they have to choose between paying for medical prescriptions or food?


Through Vivalon’s nutrition programs, hundreds of our neighbors are accessing thousands of healthy meals every week. This month, we’re celebrating the incredible power of a meal and the community that fuels us. Take a look at what’s happening throughout our March for Meals.



Stories from the Brown Bag Pantry



This month, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Vivalon’s Resident Services Coordinator, Efrain, to delve into the heart of the Brown Bag Pantry. For the past two years, Efrain has been the driving force behind the operations of the Brown Bag Pantry at Vivalon, collaborating closely with a committed core of volunteers to organize and distribute food and supporting the clients that come each week.


Here’s what Efrain said about his impactful journey:


It’s amazing how much the Brown Bag Pantry has grown. When I first started, we had around 80 people that would come through, and now we have about 130 people that come each week, so for me, it’s always amazing to see how many people come. There’s always someone in need, and it’s very fulfilling when you could be the person that fulfills someone’s needs, or when you take a burden off of someone. Grocery prices have gone up so much that it’s unaffordable. Being able to help so many people get fresh produce that’s organic is nice, and as they’re leaving, they say, “thank you,” and you can see the truth in their eyes.


I feel like the program is about more than just food; it’s about making friends. Today, for example, there was a lady from Ethiopia. There was no connection for her with anything, and I was trying to just communicate with her. I wanted to know what language she spoke because I wanted to make sure that I have certain things available for her.  We went back and forth for a while until I found out what language she spoke.


When I finally found out the language, we both just smiled and laughed, because we understood one another. Those are my moments when I get through to somebody. It’s fulfilling. After about an hour, while the clients were waiting, I walked past her and she was playing cards with other people that didn’t speak her language, but they were all doing something together. That’s why to me it’s about much more than just food.


We have another client that comes through. He’s 95 years old, and he’s still strong as an ox. When he would walk out, I would offer to carry his bags for him to the car and he would say “no.” Then I finally just said, “Well, let me walk beside you.” He asked why, and I told him, “It’s not every day that I get to walk next to a 95-year-old man carrying his own bags.” That was the icebreaker that started our relationship. He’s now a volunteer, and he’s the sweetest man. Just seeing his spirit is amazing.


Please join us in thanking Efrain and all of the volunteers for their compassionate dedication to serving our community.






Vivalon Nutrition Services


Home Meal Delivery

For homebound older adults and those navigating chronic health challenges, each meal delivered to their home through Vivalon’s Meals on Wheels and Nourish programs means more than just food; it’s a caring visit that brings warmth and companionship to brighten their days. Annually, 750 people receive over 141,000 meals delivered to their doorsteps.


If you or a loved one are homebound and in need of food, we can help! Please call (415) 473-4636 or click here to learn more.


Food Pantry

Our Brown Bag Pantry is the heart of nutrition accessibility for Marin residents, offering fresh groceries at no cost. Last year, over 300 people received 5,600 bags of food.

Are you or someone you know navigating the uncertainty of where the next meal will come from? Reach out to us at 415-456-9062 or visit our website here.


Vivalon Café

Experience true community at our Vivalon Café. Our staff and volunteers offer more than just meals, blending deliciousness, nutrition, and affordability. Our café is open to the public, Monday to Friday from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at 999 Third Street, San Rafael.


Click here to check out our weekly menu and discover monthly special events.


Messages of Gratitude


Our meal recipients, volunteers, and staff are grateful to be a part of these powerful programs. Check out what they have to say!


“I’m grateful for feeling like I’m making a difference in the lives of the people in our community. Knowing that I’m not only serving them delicious lunches but helping to foster a gathering place for friends.” – Amber Smith (Nutrition Supervisor)


“I just want to say thank you all for always making me feel special and like I have a family.” – Meals on Wheels Client


“I very much look forward to that door knock, because it’s not just, here’s you bag of food. It’s a friendship.” – Ruth (Meals on Wheels Client & Vivalon Member)


Get Involved

You can join us in providing meals today!

  • Volunteer: By volunteering to prepare or deliver meals, you do more than provide sustenance; you bring warmth and companionship to those who might otherwise be struggling. It’s a gesture that can transform a day, a week, or even a life. Your generosity has the power to alleviate the pangs of hunger and the ache of loneliness. Join other supporters in making a difference – volunteer to become a beacon of hope in your community.


  • United Markets: I invite you to bring your own bags when you shop at United Markets. For every reusable bag used, $0.05 will be donated to Vivalon to fund these crucial and necessary nutrition programs.


On behalf of those we serve, I thank you for your continued support and belief in our mission. Together, we can ensure that our elders are not left behind in the twilight of their years. Let’s march on for meals, for smiles, and for a stronger Marin County. Click here to learn more.



More to Explore

Cowles Active Learning Program

Unraveling Democracy: Richard Hertz’s Workshop at Vivalon

Thursday | April 25 | 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Richard Hertz’s areas of expertise span a wide spectrum, covering American politics and government, voter engagement, and the intricate dance of money and influence in politics. Join Richard Hertz at Vivalon for an insightful exploration of democracy, voter engagement, and the future of American politics.


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Cowles Active Learning Program

Empowering Change: Rae Abileah and The Activists Toolbox

Thursday | April 18 | 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Rae Abileah is not your average activist. She’s a social change strategist, author, editor, and ritual facilitator, whose journey has taken her from grassroots volunteering to executive leadership roles. Join her at Vivalon to discover creative strategies that can be powerful tools for social change, and learn how to apply these principles to your own work and activism.

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