40th Anniversary

Honoring 40 years of nourishing our community

In 1975 a group of people recognized that at a time when local families had a critical need for food, items like day-old bread at grocery stores would often go to waste. While the problem seemed so big, they believed it could be solved if the community worked together. This group started what is now the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

They were pioneers in the world of food assistance when food banks were just coming into existence. Their grassroots beginnings had them distributing food in a parking lot out of a truck and trailer. They provided food to a small group of churches that were helping people fill the void in their groceries until their food stamps benefits took effect. The Food Bank provided a service to these smaller agencies that otherwise would not have the capacity and access to larger quantities of food.

The Food Bank has gone from providing emergency food to a small number of people – to a resource one in eight of our neighbors rely on for help with food.

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Please enjoy this brief video overview of the Food Bank’s 40-year journey.

Our 40-Year Journey

1975 In order to provide more coordinated service to a greater number of people, 15 local food pantries and agencies incorporate as the Community Food Coalition of Contra Costa County. Two employees work from a cubicle of the Martinez social serves office with a borrowed Safeway Trailer and a chest freezer.

1976 Leadership is passed to Larry Sly, who continues to serve as Executive Director today.

1977 A bill is passed allowing for tax deductions on food donations. Based on this, a 5,000 square foot warehouse is leased in Concord.

1979 The Community Food Coalition begins its first direct distribution program called Brown Bag to provide five or six food staples like bread and canned goods to 50 low-income seniors in Antioch.

1982 Surplus commodities are released by the USDA providing a large increase in donated food.

1982 The Food Coalition joins the Second Harvest national network of food banks (now called Feeding America).

1991 The term “food bank” is becoming widely recognized, so the growing Coalition changes its name to Contra Costa Food Bank.

1992 The Food for Children program is created to serve low-income children ages 4 and 5 when they are too old for WIC, but not yet receiving free school lunches.

1995 The Contra Costa Food Bank incorporates with the Solano Food Bank .

1998 The Food Bank moves to a 30,000 square foot warehouse and office space in Concord and continues to lease a 10,000 square foot warehouse in Fairfield.

2001 Outreach begins to let people know about benefits available to them with the Food Stamp Program (now called CalFresh).

2007 The Food Bank partners with after-school programs in low-income areas to provide fresh produce and nutrition education to elementary and middle-school children (our Farm 2 Kids program).

2010 The Food Bank leases a larger warehouse in Fairfield, increasing the amount of space to 30,000 square feet.

2012 With a desire to distribute more fresh fruits and vegetables to combat health issue like diabetes and obesity, the Community Produce Program is started. Special trucks are driven into areas of high need where 20-30 pounds of produce is given out twice a month. Recipes and nutrition education is provided at many distributions.

2015 The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano currently serves one in eight residents of Contra Costa and Solano counties. Twenty million pounds of food was distributed last year, over half of which was fresh fruits and vegetables. We rely on the support of a generous community to keep our mission to end hunger going.

Nourish Gala Photos – May 16, 2015 Guests enjoyed an evening to honor 40 years of community partnership with music, dancing and support of the Food Bank. Photos by Lily Dong Photography