There is a saying that goes “A man who has nothing to eat, is a man without freedom”. It’s something we know all too well. How many times have we found ourselves unable to perform in school or work when we’ve missed meals?
Now imagine not having access to good food. A truly hungry man will be incapacitated for lack of energy and nourishment. In a malnourished state, a man will not be able to educate himself or even find labor because of his weakened body. Without the ability to make his own money and improve his living arrangements, a person will remain shackled to life of hardship.
It is a sad truth, then, that even in a first world country like ours, there are still many all over the nation who cannot afford to buy food for themselves and their families.
Answering the call to help the hungry citizens of the Contra Costa and Solano Counties of California is the non-profit organization, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. The group’s mission is to alleviate hunger by using a coordinated food collection and distribution scheme that reduces food waste. Along with this, the organization aims to raise consciousness on issues on hunger and food security in the area.
The Food Bank has been directing efforts like these since 1975. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization was conceived when a group of like-minded individuals decided that a central clearinghouse for food donations was necessary. Back then, the Food Bank had two employees, one truck, and a trailer for storing food. A driver would pick up day old bread from Safeway and return it to the trailer, where people from area churches would pick these up and distribute them from their food pantries at church.
The organization has grown immensely since then, thanks to the Food Bank’s executive director, Larry Sly. Mr. Sly has seen the Food Bank through its first year when it distributed a mere 36,000 pounds of food to over 14 million pounds last year.
It is the Food Bank’s hope that all people in the Contra Costa and Solano counties are able to receive at least one nutritious meal a day. They are also especially concerned for children, seniors, and the working poor (full-time workers at the current minimum wage) who have no means of buying food themselves.
And while hunger is not completely erased in the counties yet, the Food Bank is still able to reach many people who would otherwise not receive food assistance thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who donate time and energy to organize food collection drives; sort and pack the food; and distribute them to their hungry neighbors.
In addition to their food assistance schemes, the Food Bank asks people to advocate for public policy towards hunger relief efforts like federal nutrition programs (food stamps, national school lunch programs, etc). Government support is important for hunger-relief organizations to reach those who need their help.
The Food Bank also educates children about the problem of hunger in the community and its impact on their lives by staging a play called “HUNGRY”. This is the story of Eric, a middle school student whose family does not have enough money to buy food. Eric’s heroic journey to help his family is told with music and drama which engages and inspires students. Patricia Loughrey, an award-winning playwright, penned the play which has been presented successfully in many middle schools in the counties.
Aside from their advocacy on hunger alleviation, the Food Bank also wants a more sustainable world, which is why their Concord, CA-based, 31,000 sq. ft. warehouse is powered by solar panels. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s also more economical. The solar panel installation allows them to divert money they would otherwise use for their electrical bill (which used to top $4000 monthly) to serve the hungry in their area.
With so many people hungry, the Food Bank isn’t slowing down just yet.In fact, to achieve their hope of seeing a future with less hungry Contra Costa and Solano residents, the Food Bank tirelessly rallies the help of more people who are willing to share their time and resources with the needy.
In order to supplement their volunteer recruitment and information campaign efforts, the Food Bank has joined UPrinting’s UCommunity Program. This program offers nonprofit organizations sponsorships on their printing needs like the business cards, rack cards, and brochures ordered by the Food Bank.
Lisa Sherrill, the Food Bank’s community relations manager is glad that the program allows their nonprofit group to have access to “great quality prints”. She says the UCommunity Program is an awesome program. “As a non-profit, we must make the most of every dollar we spend and this program helps us do just that”.