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Healthy food given by NOAH

By: Irene Hilsendager
November 22, 2019

NOAH provides hungry people, families with children, the elderly and students with free healthy food in a clean and safe environment.

NOAH was founded in 2004 as a collective effort with four local churches, Cross and Crown Lutheran church, Rohnert Park; Rohnert Park Bible, St. John’s Methodist and Holy Family Episcopal.

Shortly thereafter the Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati and Rancho Cotati Rotary joined forces with the churches to support NOAH. To this day they still volunteer and put in much hard work.

NOAH has a propensity to move, not because they want to but because they were pushed out. The City of Rohnert Park’s old fire station on Southwest Blvd. was their first home. It was later revealed that a large amount of mangy four-footed rodents decided to share living quarters with NOAH. The food pantry quickly shut down and the food distribution ended in order to keep people safe from any health hazards. NOAH was then ordered to destroy about 12,000 cans of food just as a precautionary tactic.

It was devastating but the City of Rohnert Park and the Sonoma County Environmental Health Department became involved and NOAH agreed to shut its doors and no longer hand out food until further notice.

The food pantry then found a short-term home at Mountain Shadows Middle School, now known as Technology Middle School.

Now that NOAH has found a more permanent home at 5443 Snyder Ln. across the parking lot of Cross and Crown Church and  Rancho Cotate High School the operation is in full swing.

Many a pantry and refrigerator gets very lean especially towards the end of the month, NOAH opens its doors each Wed. from 4-6 p.m. to distribute fresh fruits, breads, vegetables and canned goods to families and clients that never need to show any financial records but must show they are residents of Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove.

There are many offerings of food on long tables each week and it’s a changeup of items weekly.

NOAH is situated in an ideal spot as many clients walk or ride bikes to the food pantry. The only request is “please, bring your own bags.”

The consensus seems to be split between the younger generation and senior citizens. Even with two working adults in the family, the food pantry is a welcomed reprieve for an empty tummy.

Darlene Phillips says she orders food from the Redwood Food Bank every Mon. morning and the truck delivers the palettes of food Wed. Volunteers then distribute food to the proper rooms, so it is convenient for all clients to pass quickly through the lines.

Local residents who use NOAH as a supplement to their pantries are eating better and healthier as the food pantry has received a small grant from the Rohnert Park Small Grant Foundation. This grant is a windfall as it is being used to purchase a generator to keep their large freezers running during the PG&E’s designated blackouts. At odd times the Realtors Association and even individuals donate to NOAH, to which Darlene says, “Even $5 is appreciated.”

Some schools have competitions as to who may have the most pounds of food for NOAH. Classrooms at Rancho Cotate High School consider it a contest. Sonoma State University has a community garden, and so does the Lydia Commons and beautiful and fresh vegetables are donated to the pantry.

Another food give away happens on Mondays in the Kaiser parking lot. Free food distribution in partnership with the Redwood Food Bank and the Rohnert Park Health Center gives boxes of food Farmers’ Market style to the community on a first come, first serve bases every Mon. starting at 9 a.m.