Beyond Emancipation

Elena Bunnell


When Elena Bunnell of Oakland shops at Costco or Trader Joe’s, she doesn’t just think of her own shopping list. She uses each trip to the grocery store to buy something small – boxes of instant noodles, nut mix, snack bars – that will end up on the shelves of the Emergency Food Pantry at B:E.

Bunnell, who works for Alameda County, remembers reading a letter about the work done by B:E and feeling inspired to find a way to contribute.

“I fully understand that people who are hungry can’t settle down and learn, or do a job application, or think about their future,” she says. “Buying a few extra boxes of food whenever I’m shopping and setting it aside to drop off at BE once a month is a donation venue that’s right up my alley.”

While a box of individual powdered soups, snack bars, or fruit cups may not seem like a major investment –as Bunnell says, “I buy something every time I go somewhere, so I’m not spending megabucks” – the impact can be powerful. B:E clients are often challenged to stretch their budgets to cover adequate food supplies, or find foods that can be prepared given sometimes limited access to kitchen facilities.

More than simply replenishing the stock at the pantry, Bunnell thinks that her periodic donations are a tangible reminder to foster kids that someone cares.

“My own kids had someone who believed in them when they were growing up. Everyone needs to know that someone cares about them.”

For others who want to help B:E, Bunnell strongly suggests looking at the wish list of in-kind donations, available on the web site. Right now that list includes toiletries, food pantry items, business clothing for use in job interviews, and gift cards.

“Find out what B:E needs and see if there is something that feels like a good fit for you, ” Bunnell says. “There are lots of ways to help.”