Making change together: A one-year update on our Food Bank Strategic Plan

A year ago, we introduced you to our new strategic plan – a three-year roadmap to greatly reduce the hunger gap in Contra Costa and Solano Counties and create lasting, positive change in our community. 

As hunger continues to rise in our community, the bold, innovative solutions in this plan are more critical than ever. And with the support of dedicated hunger fighters like you we’ve adapted, stayed resourceful and made progress on our three goals:  Empowering our community partners, supporting better health outcomes for our neighbors and improving our ability to serve through data and technology upgrades. 

Here’s a look at what you’ve made possible so far – and some of the next steps we’ll take together in years two and three!

Improving health outcomes and nutrition

A volunteer hands out K-NOW packs to Junior High students in Pittsburg.

Fresh protein, produce and dairy now account for 60% of all food we provide our neighbors

In 2022 we opened a massive new fridge and freezer space in Fairfield, dramatically increasing our ability to store and distribute fresh and frozen foods. We’ve also upped the variety of fruits and veggies on offer, so our neighbors can enjoy the nutritional benefits of everything from cauliflower to clementines. 

These menu additions have already made a big impact on our neighbors – particularly those aged 55+ who take part in our Senior Food Program and may already have complex health needs. We’ve also looked for other ways to support seniors’ particular health needs, like offering reduced-salt seasonings. 

Our young neighbors got a health boost in 2022-23 too! The Kids Nutrition on Weekends (K-NOW) program provides easy-to-prepare food that school-aged kids can eat on days they don’t get a nutrition boost from school meals – which makes a huge difference for students’ mental and physical health, as well as academic performance. 

Going forward, our new Nutrition Task Force is looking at how we can provide more nutrition information to our neighbors to help support healthy choices. And we continue to work with local BIPOC- and women-led farms, so we can provide food that’s fresh, nourishing, and culturally relevant to the communities we serve.

Empowering our community partners

Our nonprofit partners pick up food to distribute in the community.

The soup kitchens, food pantries and other local non-profit agencies we work with also want to get more – and better – food to our neighbors. And your support is connecting them to the tools they need to do it!  

Over the past two years we’ve awarded more than $1.3 million in enhancement grants to our partners to help them purchase refrigeration units, vehicles and other equipment so they can provide more fresh foods and support underserved communities. And once they’re ready, we’re making it easier for our partners to access donated food and take part in our grocery recovery program

We also know that our partners have plenty to teach us – especially when it comes to the unique needs of the neighborhood or community they serve. That’s why we’re relaunching our Agency Advisory Council, which will weigh in on strategic decisions, food sourcing and our ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion work. We’re also hosting an Agency Summit this fall that will bring many of our 260 partners together to learn with and from each other.

Improving service through data and technology

Food Bank warehouse
Upgrades are coming to our Fairfield and Concord warehouses.

With better data and tech, we can get food to the people who need it most as quickly as possible.

This year, we’re rolling out NeighborConnect –  a new data collection platform that will help us learn more about our neighbors and their needs. The information we gather will give us a clearer picture of the communities we serve and help us identify gaps and opportunities for growth.

We’ve also got big changes coming to our Concord and Fairfield warehouses that will modernize our processes and make it easier to track and use all the food we have on site as efficiently as possible. That means less food spoilage, smarter food purchasing and overall using your support even more efficiently than before. 

You make innovation happen

Since we announced our strategic plan in spring of 2022,
a lot has changed – including the need in our community. In just a year we’ve gone from serving about 270,000 people each month to more than 400,000. But through it all, we’ve been able to stay committed to our strategic goals because of hunger fighters like you.

Your generous support allows us to respond to this incredible increase and continue to build a Food Bank that can respond to our community’s needs and help create systemic change for years to come. Thank you! Here’s to the next two years of innovation, partnerships, and the progress we’ll make together.