Originally posted in The Vacaville Reporter: The Food Bank has moved a long way from providing emergency food to people every now and then to becoming a major part of the safety net. Trying to end hunger means we have to be in this for the long haul because the end of hunger is not yet in sight. We have a sophisticated distribution system that provides over 60,000 pounds of food to low-income people in our community every working day. In order to make this possible, we have developed a variety of ways to get food to the people we serve.
Many of the distribution systems we developed came about because the nature of the food available to us changed. As the amount of processed food diminished and the amount of fresh produce increased, we had to move food more quickly. The majority of the fresh produce we receive is the “less perishable” type (apples, oranges, potatoes, cauliflower, etc.) but it still needs to get to people quickly. In order to make produce available to the 180 agencies we serve, the Food Bank established remote distribution sites where we meet local agencies in their community. We meet agencies every week (twice a week in some communities)in a parking lot where we provide them the shelf stable items they order from a shopping list of available food, and give them access to bins of fresh produce.
While we are doing well providing more food for agencies to distribute to the community, we also bring the food directly to the people in need of help. Our Farm 2 Kids program depends on a driver and truck making deliveries to after-school programs at low-income schools. This program distributes enough fresh produce so each child can take home three to five pounds to share with their families each week during the school year. We were granted two trucks that are set up to be like a mobile farmer’s market and created the Community Produce Program Those trucks go to over fifty sites in Solano and Contra Costa counties, making it possible for low-income people to receive over twenty pounds of fresh produce every other week – at no cost to them.
These programs work because the community wants to see people have the food they need to be healthy. Volunteers bag produce in our warehouse so it is easier to distribute. Volunteers come to the distribution sites and help prepare food bags so it is easy for people to obtain. A generous community helps us cover the costs involved in proving people in need with millions of pounds of food each year. Our work has changed, but what we can accomplish has improved significantly. We are part of a community that does all they can to help their neighbors in need.