The Ecumenical Hunger Program Review - Helping Families in Need

I was visiting Palo Alto for two months and wanted to spend some time volunteering.  A friend recommended the Ecumenical Hunger Program to me because the time I could offer was limited and inconsistent. I went to visit EPH and Melanie Jones-Carter, Administrative Manager, greeted me warmly and showed me the various aspects of the program.  It reminded me of a community-based program where I volunteer in Chicago and I was very impressed with what I saw.  

Debbie, Lea, Melanie

I was fascinated as Melanie described the many connections and creative ways EHP partners with local businesses and organizations. For example, they partner with Stanford University  providing an opportunity for students to fulfill volunteer requirement.  They have a relationship with Costco, which sends food and the Four Seasons Hotel nearby that sends discarded furniture their way. There is a drop off area for area residents to leave donations of clothing and furniture.  It is also possible for anyone who needs household items to just come and take what they need.

Clothing available for selection

Furniture that has been requested

A more formal procedure is required to obtain high quality clothing and furniture.  There was an area where clothing can be selected to help individuals who are looking for work.  Also, if specific furniture is requested, the individual making the request will be contacted when the items are received at EHP.

On the grounds, a spot for meetings and activities

Food from the garden is both distributed and used for teaching about food preparation

On the grounds there is a building for holding activities of various kinds and a wonderful garden that provides produce.  I planned to volunteer in the garden but time and weather constraints worked against me.

Waiting to select food

The Ecumenical Hunger Program (EHP) is a 39 year old, private, non-profit, community-based organization located in East Palo Alto. It provides emergency food, clothing, case management, and household essentials to families in need in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto. In addition, EHP plays a major role in both advocating for, and providing referrals to resources available to low-income families and individuals in our community.

Second Harvest food distribution

The EHP was founded in 1975 by Miriam Nixon Hope and a group from Church Women United, channeled surplus and donated food to neighborhood pantries where it was distributed to families in need. EHP was incorporated in 1978 as a non-profit organization. Within a few years EHP began addressing additional critical needs in the community, distributing clothing, furniture, and household essentials, and providing referrals and other support to the needy in our service area

Emmett manages the clothing and other items one can select

In 2007, EHP distributed a total of 5,547 food boxes to meet basic nutritional needs of families, as well as to individuals with emergency needs or special circumstances, such as long-term illness. A total of 15,825 unduplicated individuals were served. All this was accomplished with a cash food budget of only $35,000. The help of the Food Bank and growing community support for food drives and collections was instrumental in stretching resources. EHP and a partner agency prepared and served hot meals to over 4,842 individuals, two-thirds of them children, at a local church, helping client families conserve the limited funds they have.  EHP distributed clothing, furniture, appliances, and household essentials, such as blankets, sheets, and dishes to over 21,000 individuals.

Needed linens can be selected

A diverse population of low-income families and individuals are recipients of EPH service. Often clients who are fortunate enough to have housing are now in jeopardy of losing it. Many of the families EHP serves are faced with the terrible dilemma of having to choose between having a roof over their heads or food on the table. A warm jacket and school supplies are often luxuries EHP’s clients simply cannot afford.  EHP’s priority is serving families, seniors, the disabled, and some additional individuals.

Volunteers help with distribution of food and clothing

The EHP office is located at 2411 Pulgas Avenue in East Palo Alto.  They are open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on special holiday distribution weekends.  Walk-in donations are accepted during all open hours.

Families registering to receive assistance

Contact EHP at (650) 323-7781 or for more information email [email protected].  Go to: to learn about and organization that really cares about people in need.

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