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The Family Meal Program is a Food Bonus for People in Need at the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank




A family meal conjures up images of mom, dad and the kids gathering around the table and eating a hearty dinner together. But a family meal can mean other things to people in need. Maybe they don’t have the means to put together a healthy dinner of protein and fresh vegetables every night. Maybe it’s a single Mom, juggling work and family, too tired to cook when she gets home from the office and running her kids around to their activities. For other families, the mother or father may be working more than one job, and caring for older family members. That’s where the Family Meal Program comes in. Twice a month, family meals are delivered to the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank and distributed to families in need.


“We go through our line. So just as they pull up, we never tell anybody they're going to get it. It's just a bonus when they get to the front,” says Andrea Scollay, director of the food bank. 


The Family Meal program began during the COVID-19 pandemic and is a community food security program that was started by restaurateurs Clay Nutting and Brad Cecchi of Canon and Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s B&L. 


“The program has evolved over the years from an emergency feeding program, to a community centered program, working with food lockers, community based organizations and schools to provide nutritious and culturally relevant restaurant-prepared meals to people in need,” says Nutting. 


Three different restaurants participate in the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank program —  Costa Vida, Drewski’s and Global Gardens. They cook up the meals that morning, pack it up and deliver it to the food bank. Scollay says each restaurant provides about 35 meals each twice a month that can range from barbecue, pasta, a taco kit to chicken and rice, already cooked and ready to be heated up and served.


“It's a meal. It's meant for a family of four. They usually come stacked. It depends. One is individual plates in a bag. And then some of them are more like family style, here's all the meat, here's a side. It's always different. We never know what it's going to be. We just hand it out when it comes,” says Scollay.


The program has been going for about six months at the food bank and has been appreciated by the people who randomly receive it.


“We mention, ‘Oh, here's your dinner for tonight. It's been provided by local restaurants.’ It’s just kind of cool. It's really cool.” says Scollay. “We tell them here's your meal. You can go straight home and don't even have to think about it, and then they can move on with their other foods. It's a really great program. We're really lucky to be a part of it.”


Since its inception in 2020, Family Meal has provided more than 500,000 meals, working with over two dozen local restaurants and supporting thousands of hours of employment. The restaurants get reimbursed for the food expense from a federal government program on food security.


By Judy Farah


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