Originally posted on the Vacaville Reporter: We at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano are excited to start 2016 by announcing a new program.
Harvest to Home started as a pilot program and has now officially become our eighth direct distribution program. Like our other endeavors, it was created out of an unfulfilled need within our community.
We became aware of this need while out on our Community Produce Program distributions. That program involves two converted beverage trucks going out to 56 sites in low-income neighborhoods and serving as mobile farmer’s markets. As the program was gaining momentum and becoming more visible, we were asked by community partners if it would be possible to make additional stops at low-income residential housing complexes located near our Community Produce Program sites.
We learned that residents in nearby neighborhoods qualified to receive food from the Community Produce Program, but simply could not participate because they didn’t have transportation to the distributions, were at work during distribution times or were medically homebound.
The truckloads of food that come into our warehouses can only make a difference if we can successfully get it out to our community members in need. Our job is to not only procure food, but also to make it accessible.
We recognized that if we went to these low-income housing complexes, we could reach more people in need and do so in an efficient manner. And so Harvest to Home was born.
There are currently six sites up and running; they are located in Richmond, Pinole, Vallejo, Dixon, Hercules and Concord. The deliveries occur twice a month and include fresh seasonal produce and loaves of bread.
Our Food Bank staff delivers the food to these sites where volunteer residents and the site staff typically set up distributions in common areas like community rooms. At a pre-determined time, residents can come in with bags and pick out what they need.Similar to a farmer’s market, it becomes a time for shopping and socializing, providing a sense of community and nutrition.
Living on a limited income is not easy, especially in this area. Single parents who have low-paying jobs struggle every day to feed their families.Senior citizens and disabled people have a difficult time getting by, even if they live in subsidized housing. We are proud of this new program that allows us to reach even more people in need.
Over 900 individuals received fresh fruits and vegetables last month from the Harvest to Home program. The feedback we have received so far has been very positive. With the community’s continued support, we hope to add two additional sites this year.
The author is executive director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, based in Concord. Email: [email protected]