Before seeking refuge at True North, Jane* remembers when food was scarce. “I remember scrounging for change for a gallon of milk,” she says. “When I came here, I didn’t have anything. To be able to go into a pantry and get food was really cool.”

Food is a critical component of True North’s residential program, which serves about 25 women and children at any given time, says Elizabeth Herrera, executive director.

Women leaving abusive situations sometimes fear not being able to provide. “Food insecurity is a big issue, especially when you have children,” Herrera says. When food is provided, she  adds, women can concentrate on finding employment and stable housing.

And for women fleeing domestic violence, food nourishes more than the body. It can also be empowering, says Amber Servey-Dorman, shelter coordinator. “Our clients are free to eat whenever and wherever they want,” she says. “Having access to food and ownership over those food choices is huge. Something as simple as that can make someone feel as though she is back in control of that part of her life.”

True North is one of more than 20 shelters The Food Bank provides food to at no charge. These types of partnerships make sense because of The Food Bank’s affiliation with Feeding America and its bulk purchasing power.

“When it comes to groceries, we can stretch a dollar so much further than our partner agencies can,” The Food Bank’s Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez says. “That allows those organizations to invest their resources in other needs.”

Jane said she is thankful knowing the shelves there will remain stocked. “I’m very grateful knowing we have food. There are kids here who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to eat, and that’s a scary thought. Our fridge is full because of you.”

*Name has been changed