Published June 17, 2008
Volume 16, Number 6

Alameda County Food Bank Hungers for Donations

“Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation!” is the message of the season from the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Many families are feeling the economic pinch, but the region’s low-income children are especially vulnerable, hit hard by the break in the free or reduced-price school meal program.

“Our agencies experience their highest demand in the summer months,” observes Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which works with 300 community-based organizations, including soup kitchens and food pantries, to provide emergency food assistance.  “Children rely on the local churches, food pantries, and day care centers for their meals. With food and fuel prices soaring, low-income families are really struggling.”

Through its network of member agencies, the Food Bank serves 40,000 people every week, including 14,000 children and 7,000 seniors. Calls to its toll-free Food Helpline are at an all-time high. In April, the non-profit made a record-breaking 1,890 referrals, a 28 percent increase over last year. “Each month we are receiving calls from 300 new households who have never had to call for help to feed their families,” Bateson says.

The challenge is compounded by a steady decline in food donations, reflective of a nationwide trend. Bateson notes that “despite valiant efforts of local letter carriers,” the yield from May’s annual “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive was lower than last year’s by two percent. In light of the unprecedented demand, even a small drop-off in donations affects the amount of food available for those who need it, she points out. “We expect a rough summer, so we are urging organizations, businesses and individuals to organize food drives and make cash donations.”

Those interested in helping the Food Bank in its response to this urgent community demand have several opportunities.
  • Host a Food Drive to collect nutritious, non-perishable food. It’s very easy to organize–all materials and barrels are provided. Sign up online at http://accfb.org/food_drive_signup.html or by calling 510-635-3663 ext. 318 or email fooddrive@accfb.org.
  • Make a financial contribution. Thanks to its supplier network and purchasing power, for every dollar donated the Food Bank can distribute seven dollars worth of food, an excellent return on investment. Visit www.accfb.org to make a secure donation online or mail your tax deductible donation to the Food Bank, 7900 Edgewater Drive, Oakland, 94621.
  • Organize a volunteer group to sort food at the Food Bank, during the week, on weekends, or for special events.  Visit www.accfb.org to learn more.

From July 1 through July 30 Safeway is sponsoring a food drive. Collection barrels will be located in area stores. Take advantage of two-for-one and other grocery specials to buy a few extra items to donate. The most needed foods are canned meats and fish, peanut butter, rice, pasta, low-sugar cereals, and canned soups.

Local agencies served by the Food Bank include: Interfaith Sharing, Marylin Ave. School/Tri-Valley Community Fund, Open Heart Kitchen, Solidarity Fellowship, and Tri-Valley Haven Food Pantry, in Livermore; and BACS/Valley Creative Living Center, in Pleasanton.


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