Originally posted on The Vacaville Reporter: The end of the calendar year is always a time to reflect on what has been accomplished in the year that is coming to a close and plan for the coming year.
The year 2015 is special for those of us at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano because it is the 40th anniversary of the year we were incorporated, so we look back to when we began as we plan for where we hope to go.
In 1975 the Food Bank started as two employees trying to provide more food to emergency food pantries.
The pantries provided short-term help to people who were waiting to obtain assistance from government aid programs. In our first year we provided more than 30,000 pounds of food through the agencies we served.
Now, 40 years later, through direct distribution and partner agencies like emergency food pantries, soup kitchens and other nonprofit partners the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano provided more than 20 million pounds of food, the most food we have ever distributed.
We had another significant milestone last year with half the food we distributed being fresh produce.
Because of our partnership with the California Association of Food Banks, we have access to millions of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables that are not marketable to the mainstream, but are still nutritious. In order to get this fresh food to those in need, we have established direct service programs like the Community Produce Program and Farm 2 Kids.
We celebrate the fact we have such a positive impact on low-income people’s lives, both economically and nutritionally.
We are extremely positive about the good work we do and the nutritious food we are able to distribute, but we are concerned that one in eight people living in Contra Costa and Solano counties rely on the Food Bank to get by day to day.
We know it is a positive thing we can provide food every day because people need the help we give. But in the coming years I hope we can work toward the Food Bank again becoming an emergency resource instead of an essential part of the support system for people in need.
It is not acceptable that people should be hungry in an affluent food-rich society like ours.
The Food Bank is proud of what we are able to do every day, providing healthy food to people in need. As long as people are hungry, we still have work to do.
But going forward we need to be part of the conversation about why people need food and what we can do as a society to make sure everyone has the nutrition they need no matter what the economy or life situation.
If you would like to help the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano there are many ways to donate. For every $1 you donate, the Food Bank can distribute two meals to those in need. Donate online at https://www.foodbankccs.org/give-help/donate.html or mail a check to Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, P.O. Box 6324 Concord, CA 94524. All donations to the Food Bank are tax deductible.
You could also become a pledge donor and fight hunger regularly throughout the year by having your donation automatically deducted from your bank account or credit card. Your gift goes directly to the Food Bank, where it is put to work immediately to help feed hungry children and needy adults. Plus it saves time, paper and postage further stretching your donation.
The author is executive director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, based in Concord. Email: [email protected]