Food Bank Founder and long-time supporter, Linda Locke, passed away on Christmas Eve. In celebration of the gift she gave our community, we share with you a little background of her early days in food banking.
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 always driven by her passion to help others, so she took off running. At the time, approximately 370 families needed help with food each month. Linda personally spoke with each pantry in the county to see what was needed to strengthen their service. The answer was collaboration.
- Create a primary fundraising source for food acquisition.
- Increase the size of food donations and receive wholesale pricing, since no one pantry could achieve this alone.
- Store the food in a central warehouse that pantries could access as they had the capacity.
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.
Larry goes on to say “Personally speaking, I am grateful Linda created the best career for me I could have ever had. But more importantly, I am glad Linda created a program that continues to work toward her dream of ending hunger.”
Photos: Top left: Larry Sly, Linda Locke and Ed Rimer, the first Executive Director of the Food Bank. Bottom left: Juan collecting onions from a local grower. Right: Linda at the 40th-anniversary celebration of the organization she started.