Jennifer Van-iston

Fill the Van - Meet Jennifer Van-iston

GoodRoots Northwest / May 2, 2024

We need you!...



Food insecurity dramatically spikes during the summer months for youth primarily due to the absence of school-based food programs. During the academic year, many children rely on free or reduced-price meals provided at school, including breakfast and lunch.


I know we’ve all heard these statistics before. Before I got into this business, I worked in schools and heard over and over that we had hungry youth. Once becoming involved with the food bank, I became shocked by the prevalence of this disparity, and even more shocked that as a society we seemed to complacently accept it. Is it because we’re heartless? No. It’s because it’s so uncomfortably unfathomable to imagine that in the United States, our kids are hungry every day. It’s hard to reconcile, really. And to be honest, I think there is a part in all of us that wants to pretend it’s not true. It can’t possibly be true.

But it can.

But the truth is, kids do more than learn at school…for many, this is where they also eat. And summer brings an end to this critical resource for so many of our local families. If someone is already struggling with food insecurity, replacing these meals can be a significant challenge. During summer, families with children face additional expenses such as higher utility bills due to air conditioning needs, childcare costs if parents are working, and expenses related to summer activities. These added financial burdens can divert funds away from grocery budgets, exacerbating food insecurity. Even when food is available, the nutritional quality might not match what schools provide. This can affect children’s overall health, making them more vulnerable to illness and other health issues, which can further strain family resources.

For all these reasons, we’re asking you for help. Help to change this story for kids in our area. And with this help, we can provide nutritious meals and snacks to hundreds of kids each week during the summer months. We will be expanding our kid-friendly food section within The Market, offering weekly bags of extra food, and ensuring 24/7 access through our Locker Network for families that can’t make it to The Market during business hours.

Here’s our community homework assignment:

Each month we will be focusing on a couple of important foods for kids and challenging the community to help fill the VW van parked at The Market. We’ve named her “Jennifer Van-iston” and she’s as timeless and as friendly as her namesake :)


In May, our focus items are trail mix and fruit leather. Perfect to keep kids nourished during their summer adventures! You can drop off your donation at The Market (24015 WA-410 Buckley WA) or make it easy and shop our Amazon Wishlist . And to support our Healthy Youth program all year long, you can donate using this link.


We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Creator Lutheran Church and Creator Lutheran Foundation for over $85,000 in lifetime gifts in efforts to combat youth hunger in our community. You have changed trajectories with your generosity.

Community….let’s take a stand together to end hunger in our young people. Let’s write a new story.

-Gratefully, Stacey