The basics: Jessica Nazaroff, 36, is a stay-at-home mom. Shelby Dart, 42, is a real estate company co-owner. Both are married and each have three children. They live in Fresno. The duo met through their husbands several years ago.
What they do: Each month, Nazaroff and Dart get together to pack plastic bags full of food and snacks for 125 students from low-income families at Addams Elementary School. They meet at Nazaroff’s house where they sort through giant plastic bins of donated goods — granola bars, juice boxes and instant dinners — to package and deliver to the schoolchildren every Thursday afternoon. They’ve dubbed their program “Feed Our Future.”
Why they do it: “When I read this article about a national organization that does the same thing, it really caused me to look at our kids’ hunger locally,” Nazaroff said. “The more I did that, the stronger the desire got.”
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The turning point: For nearly two years Nazaroff and Dart worked to create a local affiliate of a national program that delivers food to children. After hitting several roadblocks along the way, Dart proposed the pair launch their own organization. “I thought, this isn’t that big of a deal. Two weeks later (Nazaroff) says, ‘Let’s go, we’re going to deliver bags today,’ ” Dart said.
Details, details: Nazaroff and Dart picked Addams Elementary after learning about the extreme poverty many students there face. The school, located west of Highway 99 near McKinley Avenue, serves many children who live in nearby hotels and shelters.
Knowing many low-income students rely on hot school meals to keep from going hungry, the pair decided to package up easy meals that could be microwaved or prepared with little help from an adult. They made their first delivery in March and have been packing 6,000 items a month ever since.
What others say: “It’s such a routine now I don’t know what we would do without their help,” said Sandra Toscano, principal at Addams. “They’ve been so generous to our school. We get several volunteers who do a one-time supply of 40 backpacks. But never consistent (donations) in this way.”
How you can help: Anyone wishing to donate food items or to volunteer with Feed Our Future can email Nazaroff at email@example.com. To make a continuous monthly donation, visit www.feedourfuturefresno.org.
— Hannah Furfaro