Supporting Families with Food Insecurity through the Pandemic

Senior Grace Montgomery tackles an overlooked and personal issue in the community for her senior project.


Isabella (Isa) Searle, Mirada Staff

When families already facing food insecurity are plagued with food allergies, finding a weeks worth of groceries is a formidable task. Senior Grace Montgomery has dedicated her Civitas senior project to helping families facing these issues live an easier life. 

Montgomery’s senior project focuses solely on families that have children with food allergies and face food insecurity. Food insecurity refers to a family’s inability to provide or find dependable access to a sufficient amount of affordable and nutritious food.

Feeding America estimates that Sacramento County has a food insecurity rate of 11.9 percent, and Montgomery is determined to help some of those within the San Juan Unified School District facing hunger. Starting in March, she will deliver bags of allergy-safe food that can be used to prepare snacks and meals to these families over the next six months. 

To get enough materials for each bag, Montgomery has reached out to different companies for donations and also started a GoFundMe to raise $2000, as each bag costs around $50 to make. 

I received donations from a total of 6 companies and the products include things like granola, fruit bars, protein bars, cookies, and SunButter packets that are all free from the top 6 allergens,” Montgomery said. “I have also just recently reached my fundraising goal which means I have the resources to purchase the items for the bags, and can sustain the project with monthly food deliveries from now through August.”

As of now, she will be making deliveries to four families. It is likely that as the months progress, she will be making deliveries to more families, as many have been contacted but have yet to decide if they want to take part in the program. 

Aside from a passion for advocating for people with food allergies, Montgomery took inspiration from a tragic event in her past for this project. 

“Eight years ago, a friend of my family died from an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts,” Montgomery said. “To support this family, and others with food allergies, I wanted to do my part in food allergy awareness.”

Montgomery has had to make a few changes to her project to get it where it is now. At first, she wanted to directly supply local food banks with allergy-safe food but soon learned that would take months to get approval for. After speaking with people from the district who are involved with the SJUSD food bank, she was able to develop her project to what it is now. 

“In the fall when I began my project, I had a totally different idea of what I wanted to do,” Montgomery said. “I knew that I wanted to help families facing food insecurity and had a child with food allergies, but I thought that the best way to do that would be through food banks. My project is not what it was when I started it, but I think it has worked out exactly the way it was supposed to.”

Throughout this project, Montgomery has received an overwhelming amount of support from everyone surrounding her, on a scale that she didn’t expect to see. 

“My favorite thing has been seeing the various ways people have been willing to support me, and how my project has resonated with people,” she said. “I was amazed at the response from companies who were so willing to donate their product, and the support from both friends and complete strangers has been incredible.”

Looking forward, Montgomery plans to help as many families as possible with this project and is excited to see where it takes her. 

“I am so excited for the impact this project can have on the community.”