Breakfast needs remain a priority at Samaritan House


Aanika Tiwary

The OneWorld Club is donating contributions from their breakfast food drive to the Samaritan House.

Often considered the most important meal of the day, breakfast foods are in high demand at the Samaritan House of San Mateo County

“They’re very popular in terms of the items that families really want from our pantry: oatmeal, cereals, all the kinds of things that get kids going in the morning to get them ready for the school day,” said Jenny Saba, the Associate Director of Volunteers and Engagement at the San Mateo Samaritan House. “Even now, when they’re at home, kids need a nutritious breakfast.”

Supported by workers and volunteers, the Samaritan House offers healthcare, housing, and food services to help those in need. 

“I love the way everybody is working together and making a real community effort out of it. We would have clients say, ‘I came here feeling hopeless, and now I have help and hope,'” said Bart Charlow, CEO of the San Mateo Samaritan House. “Those are the things that truly matter; not only do we provide so much of what people need in an effective package, but it’s very personal, it preserves their dignity, and it really helps.”

As one of San Mateo County’s Core Service Agencies, the Samaritan House carries much responsibility in providing essential emergency services to stabilize people’s living conditions. 

“We’re the biggest and the lead Core Service Agency for the whole crew. We serve the entire county by providing homeless shelters, managing funds for government and organizations, running the coordinated entry system for homelessness diversion and placement, and providing food for people,” Charlow said. 

The Samaritan House provides not only emergency food but also everyday food. Hot meals for families are put together daily in their kitchen, while the pantry holds staple food ingredients for those who can store and cook food themselves. Breakfast food donations are available in the pantry. 

Due to the current pandemic, the Samaritan House had to make adjustments to their food service. Instead of coming into pantries directly, the charity runs a drive-through, with staff members placing items into cars to limit physical contact. 

Similar to how the Samaritan House made changes, schools have found ways to continue contributing to local nonprofits. Carlmont’s OneWorld club, with related goals to the Samaritan House, worked with the organization to hold a breakfast and cereal drive. 

“[OneWorld] focuses on helping kids just like me who aren’t given the same resources we are, and I think being able to help people who are so similar to all of us is something that we should really focus on and try to do more often,” said Aanika Tiwary, vice president of OneWorld. 

Because they had been focusing on global organizations, OneWorld decided they also wanted to contribute to their local community, choosing to work with the Samaritan House for their food drive. They specifically chose the breakfast drive due to the high demand and short supply of nonperishable items. 

The Samaritan House warmly welcomed this collaboration. The organization’s Wee Care Program, which encourages student action, shows their dedication to training children to become more empathetic. Margo Kannenberg, a longtime volunteer at the Samaritan House and coordinator of the Wee Care program, has seen a growth in kindness in the community. 

“Working with each school and watching their awareness and empathy for poverty in the area grow has continued to be a very meaningful part of our program,” Kannenberg said. “It’s an important need for our community, much more so now than it was before, for students to learn to give to others.”

Tiwary shared a similar sentiment. 

“I think it’s very important that people grow up learning about the different situations that different people have to live in so that everyone can be more empathetic and more understanding,” Tiwary said. 

The Samaritan House’s efforts to bring together staff and volunteers as the heart of the organization and support those in need reflect this theme of community. 

“I feel a tremendous feeling of satisfaction that it’s possible for people, even in a difficult environment, to work together to make sure that the least among us is not forgotten,” Charlow said.