Originally posted on the Vacaville Reporter: In 1975 Linda Locke worked in the Contra Costa County Social Service Department. When she was not able to sign a client up for food stamps because of missing paperwork, she would refer the person to the food room in a local faith community. Volunteers in those food rooms would provide the person in need with a three-day package of food to get by. Linda soon discovered that the food room inventory would run short before the end of the month. Being a resourceful type, Linda worked with her department, faith communities, food donors and obtained the loan of a trailer from Safeway. Using county trucks and two desks in a county office, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano was born. Little did I suspect when I began working for the organization in March of 1976 that I would be writing an article today that celebrates the 40th anniversary of an incredible idea.
Beginning with the storage trailer and two staff members (I was the truck driver) we distributed just over 30,000 pounds of food to the food pantries in our first year. I would not have believed that forty years later we would have seventy people on our staff, 88,000 hours of volunteer time and would distribute twenty-million pounds of food in our community each year. I would not have guessed that half the food we give out would go through direct service programs, where we bring food to church parking lots or health clinics. Serving Contra Costa and Solano Counties, we provide food to a large geographic area. We continue to improve the service we provide to nearly two-hundred nonprofit agencies. It is essential for us to make the food we provide easily accessible to the people in need. With half of the food we distribute being fresh fruit and vegetables, it’s critical that we distribute the perishable produce in a quick and efficient manner so individuals can benefit from the added nutrition.
The first fundraising effort we made was applying for a grant from the Presbyterian Church to buy food for the pantries we served. Today we continue raising money so we can provide food, including fresh produce, to the people we serve. Through the generous support of many significant donors, we have a matching fund up to $100,000 for those who make a donation to honor and acknowledge our forty years of nourishing our community. It is a different world than it was forty years ago, but hunger is still part of our community and people need food every day. These financial contributions to honor our forty years of service will help our neighbors in need.