Case Statement

“It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.”

-The Dalai Lama

There is an invisible plague sweeping through our community. It is a condition that afflicts tens of thousands of our neighbors. Its victims come from all backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and age groups. They’re homeless youth, retired folks living on social security and families struggling to get by on minimum wage. It’s not easy to see who’s affected by it, but the damage is real. The alarming fact is, that one in four children are its victims. This silent plague is hunger.  

Yolo County is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the nation and home to the premier agricultural university on the planet. And yet, the shocking fact is that over 21% (more than 44,000) of people in Yolo County are considered ‘food insecure’, meaning that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

The Yolo Food Bank

For over 45 years, Yolo Food Bank (YFB) has led the battle against hunger in this community. YFB began as a volunteer-run, backyard “gleaning” program; today it is the county’s largest hunger relief organization distributing more than 4 million pounds of food and fresh produce per year to over 18,000 households each month, in every corner of the country.

Region of County

Pounds Distributed

Woodland

2,416,255

Davis

258,014

West Sacramento, Clarksburg

794,227

West 505 (Esparto, Madison, Winters, Brooks)

574,300

I-5 North (Knights Landing, Dunnigan, Yolo, Zamora)

271,249

TOTAL

4,314,445

Currently, YFB accepts, aggregates, and distributes this food through a cluster of outdated buildings in Woodland, which are not designed for these challenges. We lack capacity and dry, safe conditions to store food. The limited cold storage space is especially challenging because 32% of the foods we distribute are perishables. In addition, we need space and a healthy work environment for our hundreds of volunteers who sort and re-package the food for distribution, as well as for the agency and church workers who pick up food on a daily basis for soup kitchens, pantries, food closets and faith-based organizations across Yolo County.

We are unable to expand operations in our current site due to the lack and inadequacy of space and the shortage of both dry and cold storage. Each week we turn away generous donations of perishable, healthy food because of our inability to receive, safely store and re-distribute. In so doing we limit the amount of fresh food we can supply requiring us to deny hungry people the good quality food they so desperately need.

As the food distribution hub for the entire county, the Yolo Food Bank is the primary source of food for the majority of our distribution partners. In many cases, we are the ONLY provider of quality, fresh foods in a particular town or community. The Family Resource Centers in Clarksburg, Esparto, Knights Landing, Yolo, and Arbuckle (serving Dunnigan) are prime examples of this. To truly end hunger here, we cannot do it alone.

The Plan to End Hunger

Even today, while the Great Recession is but a fading memory for some, many of our neighbors still suffer silently from chronic hunger and malnutrition. These people are forced to choose between medical care, a rent payment and the next meal for their kids.

The answer to this desperate dilemma lies in consolidated and community-wide mobilization. To not respond undermines the productivity and the very spirit of our community. The solution is the EndHungerYolo Campaign.

What if we knew that improving one food bank would serve as a model for many more in the state, in the country, and possibly influence the food system in the world?

The EndHungerYolo Campaign is both an urgent, mandatory project and a unique opportunity for real world innovation and influence. The Yolo Food Bank stands ready to lead the EndHungerYolo Campaign. It will require partnerships with education, government, agriculture, industry and private citizens. These efforts are already underway. Some examples:

  •  YFB is utilizing the advanced research and leading minds at UC Davis’s Innovation Institute for Food & Health to explore the development and creation of food products to benefit the food insecure,
  •  YFB is establishing a partnership with Woodland Community College to develop a Culinary Academy, which will train and certify students in the culinary arts,
  •  YFB is developing a plan with Pacific Coast Producers to create an extended supply of tomato products for use in the re-manufacture of value-added food products, and
  •  YFB has begun instituting its Shared Harvest program, which will dramatically expand the recovery of unused produce in the fields in order to provide people with more and better food that, otherwise, would go unconsumed.

These innovative and creative approaches are an important part of the strategy to end hunger…but that’s just one part of it.

Every Yolo County resident must become engaged because hunger—especially for a child—can be devastating. We know that children who don’t eat enough or eat poorly have difficulty learning, fail to thrive, and ultimately, do not succeed. Our Kids Farmers Market program is a proven, effective means of getting fresh produce to these children at school. But in order to expand that program, we simply need more cold storage space for the food we procure and then distribute.

In one of the most productive agricultural areas in the United State, every year edible produce remains in the fields, unharvested. We have the systems and the contacts to collect that food and get it to those who need it the most. But current facility constraints restrict us from this necessary expansion.

True to our core mission, YFB is prepared to mount a unified campaign to attack both the causes and the symptoms of hunger, but we can’t do it alone.

The answer is YOU.

As challenging as it may sound, this is a rare opportunity to lend a hand locally while influencing the future for generations.

YFB purchased (at a highly favorable price during the recent real estate recession) a 36,000 sq. ft. warehouse facility just one block from our current leased headquarters. When renovated and modernized there will be space for increased food storage and processing; expandable, state-of-the-art, multi-tiered cold storage; accessible loading docks; modern dry storage capacity; a multi-purpose community meeting room; a location for our administrative offices; and a value-added commercial/teaching kitchen. This facility is an ideal headquarters for the EndHungerYolo Campaign.

This former factory will enable us to consolidate all of our food management functions under one roof and to add elements for innovative nutrition training and education. It allows the YFB to terminate lease payments on its current structures and to build equity in our own plant. The design of the facility also provides expansion and flexibility as YFB develops new techniques for food handling and re-packaging. This is The Food Bank of the Future!

YFB is launching a $6 million capital campaign—one of the most ambitious in Yolo County history—to pay for this remarkable facility. Donations will be used to re-model and re-purpose the building as a modern food distribution hub, to equip it for maximum flexibility and efficiency, and to do so in compliance within the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Education is a key strategy in the long-term solution to hunger, and this facility will enable us to conduct nutrition classes and provide instruction on selecting and preparing nutritious foods.

Our Campaign is being chaired by prominent and long-time Yolo County resident, Don Sharp of Woodland. For more information on our blue ribbon team of volunteer campaign leaders go to www.endhungeryolo.org and/or follow #endhungeryolo on social media. Tax deductible, charitable investments in the Yolo Food Bank of the Future may be made in the form of multi-year pledges, with attractive opportunities for donor recognition and naming rights. However, your true return on this investment will be measured in terms of fewer hungry stomachs and, literally, lives saved.

You have the power to transform a generation of food-insecure Yolo residents to become educated, informed and empowered to feed themselves and others. It is a cycle that starts with you. And a cycle that starts right now.

If we cannot end hunger here, with this abundance of resources at our disposal, then what hope is there of ending it anywhere else?

For more information on the EndHungerYolo Campaign contact Kevin Sanchez at 530.668.0690 or browse this website.