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West Sacramento News-Ledger

Yolo County Food Bank Feeds Riverbank Elementary Students

Apr 24, 2024 10:31AM ● By Angela Underwood

Yolo County Food Bank arrived at Riverbank Elementary, supplying families in need with nutritional food needed for students to learn successfully. Photo courtesy of Yolo County Food Bank

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - There are emergency responders, and there are food responders.

Food responders make up the Yolo Food Bank, which serves one in three households suffering from food insecurity here. Yolo County has a 30% insecurity rate, which is higher than the state and national average. 

Washington Unified School District (WUSD) officially partnered with Yolo Food Bank to feed dozens of students at Riverbank Elementary. WUSD Executive Director of Communication Director Giorgos Kazanis said collaboration between the district and Yolo County partners is critical to ensuring that every student has access to nutritious meals. 

"Many students rely on school meals as a primary source of nutrition, and by partnering with Yolo County, we can extend this support beyond the school day to address food insecurity issues that students may face at home," Kazanis said. "This partnership allows us to provide essential nourishment to students, ensuring they have the fuel they need to learn, grow, and thrive academically and personally."

Kazanis added during times of high inflation and food insecurity, the need for food assistance becomes even more pressing.  

"By supplying food to students and families during these challenging times, we can help alleviate some of the financial burdens they face while ensuring that no child goes hungry," Kazanis said. "This support not only promotes physical well-being but also fosters a sense of community and support within our district."

Teaching children on a full stomach is crucial for their academic success and overall well-being, according to the executive director of communication, noting when students are hungry, they may have difficulty concentrating, participating in class activities, and retaining information. 

"By ensuring that students have access to nutritious meals, we can support their cognitive function and create an environment conducive to learning," Kazanis said. "A full stomach sets the stage for engaged and focused students, ultimately enhancing their educational experience."

And it's not just about feeding the mind through the stomach. Proper nutrition is also important to students' emotional and mental growth. Kazanis said nutrient-rich foods provide essential vitamins and minerals that support brain function and development, helping students regulate their emotions, manage stress, and maintain positive mental health. 

"In an academic environment, where students face various challenges and pressures, meeting their nutritional needs is paramount," Kazanis said. "By prioritizing proper nutrition, we can promote resilience, concentration, and overall mental wellness among students, laying the foundation for academic success and lifelong health."

Yolo Food Bank's FirstFruits Farms' Take a Bite Out of Hungerâ„¢ program recently saw a generous donation of 22,660 pounds of fresh apples from Raley's and aims to address food insecurity within West Sacramento. Kazanis said the impact of partnerships between WUSD, the Yolo Food Bank, and various community partners is significant. 

"The recent donation of fresh apples not only provides nutritious options for families but also highlights the ongoing need for access to fresh produce, especially during times of rising food prices," Kazanis said, adding the county food bank is committed to supporting families in need through onsite food pantries and the Student Farmers Market program at Riverbank Elementary School along with 18 other school sites in the county.

"Students are guided during or after-school to learn about, sample, and select their own fruits and vegetables using play money to simultaneously provide insight into the economic value of food and its impact upon the food system," according to the website.  

The program also gives children 5-10 pounds of healthy produce to bring home to their families.  

"By working together, we can ensure that every member of our community has access to the food resources they need to thrive," Kazanis said.

For more information on the Yolo Food Bank, visit

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