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Launching a postpartum meal program — because it takes a village

by Sophie Albert
| April 17, 2024 1:00 AM

In honor of Mother’s Day, North Valley Food Bank (NVFB) will launch a postpartum meal and nutrition education program in collaboration with the Postpartum Resource Group this May.

The goal of the program is to ensure all mothers and babies in our communities are well-nourished during the critical periods of pregnancy and postpartum.

Rachael, our culinary arts manager, initially shared the idea shortly after she started at NVFB:

“As a cook and a mom, I wanted to find a way to support new mothers through food. Nutrition is so important for postpartum health, but moms rarely have time or energy to create meals for themselves or lack knowledge around nutrition.” 

Rachael’s idea was met with excitement by our team. A postpartum meal program was the perfect example for a potentially impactful program like we envisioned under our strategic planning goal to create accessible nutrition education for families in our communities.

Rachael’s idea transported me back to my own postpartum days… Stacks of dirty dishes in the sink, a tiny human requiring our attention 24/7 and the daily threading question What should we make for dinner tonight? Making this seemingly simple decision felt impossible at times and the answer was often frozen pizza. In those early postpartum days, I was exhausted, hungry and  often lonely. That was until we received the most incredible gift from our NVFB family — an eight-week long meal train. Suddenly, frozen pizza was replaced by baked ziti, taco kits, summer salads and comforting brownies that provided energy to make it through sleepless nights of nursing. All of you parents, do you remember those days? Vaguely?

Our vision for the NVFB’s postpartum meal and nutrition education program is to extend the gift of easy and nutritious meals to all new mothers and their families. We will partner with the Postpartum Resource Group and hope that the program will benefit both low-income families as well as mothers who don’t have a strong support system. Meals will be available for pick-up in our free client-choice grocery store. The Postpartum Resource Group will share the resource along with samples with moms accessing their support services. The group is passionate about reducing the burden that moms and their families carry in the postpartum season. They do this through free in-home postpartum doula support, a variety of monthly support groups, a mother in need fund and most recently through their community volunteer meal train program lovingly dubbed “the village”. Hattie Courtford, the Executive Director of the Postpartum Resource Group shared: “The vision is that this will be an amazing new way for folks in the community to support our cause. We are thrilled to be partnering with the amazing people at the North Valley Food Bank to make a new meal train program even more accessible.“

Our partnership will scale meal train possibilities and provide nutrient-dense meals prepared in a commercial kitchen. Additionally, NVFB will host prenatal and postpartum cooking classes, meal prep and nutrition education for program participants.

Rachael and our culinary volunteers, with the help of our blast chiller, have been creating hundreds of frozen meals from fresh, clean ingredients every single week since December. 

Now, Rachael looks forward to taking the meal transformation to the next level. She shared that “cooking is my profession and passion, but even I had difficulties getting back into the kitchen after having a baby. Now we can provide meals and education for moms and their support teams during a crucial time in their lives.”

Stay tuned and follow NVFB on social media for more information about the launch of the postpartum meal program. To learn more about the services of the Postpartum Resource Group, visit www.postpartumresourcegroup.org. If you are looking for a fun mother’s day gift, grab some tickets for their upcoming 4th Annual Pin-Up Pageant on May 18 at Triple B Ranch!