Redwood Empire Food Bank hands out meals made from 1,000 wheels of brie donated by Marin French Cheese Co.

Marin French Cheese Co. donated 500 pounds of brie to Redwood Empire Food Bank last week. Volunteers incorporated the cheese into meals given out Wednesday in Santa Rosa.|

People waiting for groceries from the Redwood Empire Food Bank at Bayer Park in Santa Rosa Wednesday were treated to a small meal featuring an award-winning brie, thanks to Marin French Cheese Co. in Petaluma

The artisan cheese company donated 1,000 8-ounce wheels, or 500 pounds, of the French-style cheese on Friday, according to Redwood Empire’s marketing manager Rachelle Mesheau.

“This is a pretty significant donation,“ Mesheau said, adding that Marin French Cheese Co. regularly donates cheese that it doesn’t expect to sell.

Redwood Empire’s chef Don Nolan and volunteers paired the brie with sliced apples, sunflower seed tahini oat crackers, and lime and chili almonds.

The meal was part of the food bank’s On the Spot Nutrition program, which offers on-the-go meals to people receiving food at Redwood Empire’s distribution sites. The food bank currently produces 5,000 On the Spot meals per week, with a goal of expanding to 10,000 per week next year.

“It’s a way for us to get food into people’s hands right away,” Nolan said.

The donation comes at a critical time for the food bank, which has seen demand increase 38% since 2021 while the cost of goods continues to soar, Redwood Empire’s operations director Alison Smith told The Press Democrat in November.

“The brie is special, we wouldn’t get the brie any other time of year. It’s nice that they’re donating it,” Nolan said. “The people who receive it really do appreciate it.”

Redwood Empire serves individuals, families and children who face food insecurity through their own programs, and supplies 150 partner organizations in Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

For more information, go to refb.org.

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