A number of food banks in California are working to deliver more fresh produce to their clients. The Sacramento Food Bank is a leader among them. They used to be “one of those standard food distribution centers where bags of processed foods, carbohydrate-laden government commodities and day-old breads and sweets were bagged and handed to people who stood in line for hours to get it” until their new CEO, Brent Blake noticed the people in the line where getting fatter and fatter. “I realized we were killing them.’’
Young set out to remake how the food bank operated.
He and his staff forged partnerships with local farmers, most of them organic, and upped the amount of fresh produce to more than half of clients’ food allotment. Then knowing that most of them live in food deserts without transportation to grocery stores and the region’s many farmers’ markets, they moved distribution sites to about two dozen neighborhood schools and churches they visit once a month. Just like at farmers’ markets, the produce is laid out on tables, and clients can ‘‘shop’’ for fresh carrots, kale, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, squash or whatever else is in season. Background music lends a festive air, and informational booths offer clinics on smoking cessation and health screening. The number of families served has grown from 8,000 to 20,000 over the two years since it has taken off.
Now the Sacramento Food Bank, under the directorship of Young and his crew is setting out to create the nation’s first farm-to-fork food bank using 100 percent local growers.
Young hopes to open new markets for local farmers as clients buy more healthy food. He believes a true farm-to-fork movement must include socioeconomics groups not inclined to shop at farmers markets or Whole Foods. ‘A community is better off if farm-to-fork includes folks who struggle to put nutritional food on the table,’ Young said.
If you are interested in learning more about the Sacramento Food Bank and how it has helped its clients improve their lives, Tracie Cone’s article can be found here.