Valley Churches United Missions programs.

In a crisis, Valley Churches United Missions may be able to assist with a certain  type of need. The agency, which operates as a non-profit charity, can direct applicants to emergency food assistance from pantries. Other resources range from programs run in partnership with the United Way to grant programs such as ESG. Those are some examples of what may be provided in Santa Cruz County.

Any type of support is combined with job placement and development. This is a requirement as the staff from the non-profit need to ensure that the applicant is working towards being independent. Since resources are so limited, the intent is to offer financial aid to those people who are doing everything in their power to gain self-sufficiency.

With thousands of children facing hunger, the Food and Nutrition Programs can help tackle this problem. There is a combination of nutrition education and emergency food assistance for low-income families. There are several components to this, as noted below.

  • Pantries from VCUM will pass out food boxes. The items are received through various drives held in the community and private donations. Boxes of food are distributed each weekday on a case-by-case basis to those that qualify.
  • Surplus USDA Commodities, such as commodity food and TEFAP, are distributed to income eligible households.
  • Applications to SNAP food stamps, Cal-Fresh, or other benefits such as WIC are provided by Valley Churches United Missions.
  • Market Salvage is when surplus items from grocery stores or restaurants are passed out.
  • Nutrition Education is a tool used to enhance varieties of food preparation and ways to stretch monthly grocery budgets.

Valley Churches United Missions is working by itself or with partners in distributing essential food and other crucial services to working poor or elderly people. The volunteers that make up the team are key to this service operating. Each person that volunteers with the charity is committed to assisting vulnerable people.

Whether someone is living on fixed incomes or recovering from a financial hardship, the pantries and Meals on Wheels recipients (as noted below) can help. After all, everyone deserve adequate nutrition and kind words of someone who cares.




Some people just can't make it to the services above, as maybe they are home-bound. In these cases there is a Meals On Wheels service. This program offers low cost nutritious meals to elderly and/or disabled individuals. It is for those that can't shop or prepare food for themselves. There are subsidized meals available based on eligibility (age 60+ and homebound), private pay services and more. All food served will meet 1/3 RDA Daily Nutritional Requirements.

The program also provide a connection to the homebound person with the outside community. The volunteer driver from Valley Churches United Missions or an agency on aging center will also offer a daily check-in to ensure the homebound person is feeling well and is still safe. There are even special seasonal or holiday meals serviced, such as on birthdays or Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is very appreciated by many residents as many of them do not have family or friends nearby to celebrate with.

Valley Churches United Missions can direct clients to help for basic living expenses, such as for housing or utility bills. There is also information on affordable medical care, ranging from clinics to discount prescription medication services. This is mostly as part of their Client Direct Aid Assistance.

One resource, the LIHEAP - Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a once per year cash benefit to assist with paying winter heating bills. There may also be grants for paying overdue rent as part of ESG. Also, staff from Valley Churches United Missions can advice residents on entering into payment plans with their utility companies, or arrange mediation with landlords.

Any type of financial help is very limited. The factors determining eligibility for any type of support include total household income, number of household members, historical consumption amount and geographic location in the county of Santa Cruz. Any funds are limited and often paid out first come and served.

Other programs from the church are Holiday Assistance Projects. Families can get help at Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas from Valley Churches United Missions. There may be free food and gifts. There are also free school supplies, medical care, and more.




Special resources are focused on family development, including for residents faced with non-typical situations. There are programs such as Veterans Services, GED classes, and job placement. Most of these are available via referrals.

  • Valley Churches United Missions will help veterans in the region who are homeless or are in danger of it. A case manager will help them address barriers to self-sufficiency, or help them apply for VA benefits and the like.
  • GED development and classes will lead to increased job opportunities and allows clients access to higher education.
  • Advocacy will help people find the support they need, whether locally or for government benefits.

Almost anyone that is struggling can seek Family Development. This is available as it emphasizes self-sufficiency. The agency, including partners such as non-profit credit counseling agencies, provide budget counseling, goal setting, and information on educational opportunities enrolled households. The focus of VCUM is to break the cycle of poverty of people on public benefits.

The charity only supports the general area of San Lorenzo and Scotts Valley California. Call 831-336-8258.


By Jon McNamara

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