Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) works toward a hunger-free community, in part by distributing millions of healthy meals every year. It is also on the forefront of new approaches to ending hunger and poverty through research and advocacy. Hunger matters: Insufficient access to healthy food contributes to increased risk of diet-sensitive chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and creates barriers to those trying to manage their conditions. Food insecurity and poor nutrition cause harmful outcomes in all stages of life, including poor physical, emotional, and developmental outcomes.
“We are unique among food banks in our capacity to mobilize and promote the voices of everyday people struggling to put enough food on the table,” says Katherine Avila, Food and Fund Drive Coordinator. “We can’t end hunger without ending poverty and inequity. At Alameda County Community Food Bank, we believe that access to nutritious food is a basic human right.”
For more than 35 years, ACCFB has fed the hungry. The need now is greater than ever, according to Avila. Since the Covid-19 crisis began, the number of calls to the nonprofit’s Emergency Food Helpline have doubled compared to pre-Covid-19 periods. One-third of referrals are first-time callers. Nearly 40% are households with seniors, many of whom had independent lives prior to the pandemic but who are now afraid of exposure to the virus. As a result, ACCFB is now distributing more than twice the usual amount of food, enough to feed 60,000 people per day.
“We are seeing a surge in need,” says Avila. “We are regularly distributing more than one million pounds of food per week, and we are now spending one million dollars a month in food purchases. Should there be an increase in infection rates of Covid-19 this coming winter, ACCFB intends to be ready to meet the nutritional needs of our community.”
In partnership with the Pleasanton Unified School district, ACCFB provided 63,825 pounds of food, the equivalent of 53,187 meals, from March through the end of June to students and their families. At the beginning of June, the Food Bank set up a drive-through distribution site at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds. This distribution site primarily serves residents of Pleasanton and also benefits residents of other cities in the Tri-Valley area. Since it opened, this safe, contact-free food distribution location has served 52,866 clients, including 11,788 children.
“We know that when someone has enough to eat, it is so much more than just about a bag of food or a prepared meal,” says Avila. “It is about a child who can concentrate on a new lesson and learn, because they have enough to eat. It is about a senior who knows that even in a pandemic, they have a lifeline to nourishing food.”
The Food Bank’s partners, volunteers, and donors enable the nonprofit to fight hunger. Supporters can help the Food Bank via the Hacienda Virtual Food Drive, by donating in other ways, and by volunteering. ACCFB distributes an estimated 3,000 emergency food bags each day and needs volunteers to help pack the bags. Donors are also welcome; every $1 in donations equals two meals.
“We know from past experience that when our community is hurting, our friends step up to help time and again,” Avila says. “Now is one of those times. We will need continued support to be able to respond to this crisis, which is both a health and economic challenge for so many. Our supporters at Hacienda businesses are valued partners in our work. By participating in the Hacienda Virtual Food Drive, we can uplift our neighbors together.”
For more information about the Alameda County Community Food Bank, please visit www.accfb.org.
For more information about volunteering, please visit www.accfb.org/get-involved/volunteer.
For more information about the Hacienda Virtual Food Drive, please visit www.hacienda.org/news-events/hacienda-online/community-news/2020/hacienda-food-drive.