GROW San Mateo formed as a collective project to provide free healthy food to promote a healthier lifestyle and educate people on the importance of fresh produce.
Bill Schildknecht started the GROW San Mateo project in March of 2019 for a collection of local gardeners grow and donate fresh produce. He learned about the Samaritan House Food Pharmacy that summer, which is a part of the organization’s free medical clinic, and began a partnership. In the spring of this year, it started to host a table at the two food pharmacy clinics in San Mateo and Redwood City.
“I think what we’ve seen though is that there obviously is a link between preventable diseases like obesity and diabetes and some of those things where food is actually medicine, and the pandemic hit those people with those ailments the hardest. So I think there’s just an increasing realization through this group of people that goes to Samaritan House that eating is not just a luxury. It’s vital to your health,” he said. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for local food to actually change a lot of the problems that we have with the current food system.”
He said he was inspired for this project by the Victory Gardens of the 1940s when communities came together.
“I started GROW San Mateo as a way to grow community around the activity of plants because I saw just from my own garden here in San Mateo that plants are able to cross age