Our History

More than 45 years of nourishing our community
Larry Sly, fourth from the left, served as the Food Bank's Executive Director for over four decades.

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.

The Food Bank has gone from providing emergency food to a few thousand people – to a resource for 1 in 9 of our neighbors.

Historical Highlights

1975
1976
1977
1979
1982
1982
1991
1992
1995
1998
2001
2007
2010
2012
2015
2017
2019
2020
2021

Founders

Linda Locke, Founder (1975)

Linda Locke was a graduate student, wife and mother when she got the assignment of a lifetime in 1975. While working for Contra Costa County Social Services, she was tasked with finding a way to prevent central county food pantries from running out of food before the month was over. Her early work developing a food program called the Community Food Coalition grew to become the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano you know today.

Linda was never shy and used her love of public speaking to acquire distribution trucks and large-scale food donations. She was also instrumental in the creation of California legislation to ease the liability of companies who donated food in good faith.

Linda was relocated to other areas of county work in 1976, but her short time in food banking created a lasting legacy. Executive Director Larry Sly recalls, “She created a food bank out of thin air.” The Community Food Coalition went from enough food to provide 30,000 meals in a year to our current organization providing 18 million meals a year.

Linda passed away on Christmas Eve of 2018 after a lifetime dedicated to helping others.

Larry Sly, Executive Director (1976-2019)

After graduating from UC-Berkeley, Larry joined the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and soon became the organization’s Executive Director. He has guided the Food Bank’s development from an organization that distributed 36,000 pounds of food in its first year to one that distributed over 20 million pounds of food last year.

Larry has served as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Feeding America, the national food bank network, and on the National Council (NAC), an elected group of food bank leaders who serve as the voice of the network for Feeding America. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Association of Food Banks and chairs the Emergency Food and Shelter board that allocates Federal funds to hunger and shelter agencies in Contra Costa County. Larry has served on State advisory committees on hunger and has served on task forces for Feeding America. He is also a member of the Rotary Club of Concord.

40th Anniversary Retrospective