Doing our part to nourish California through the COVID-19 pandemic.
What started as a health crisis quickly became an economic and hunger crisis. With schools shuttered, layoffs rippling through our communities, and the entire state coming to a standstill, food banks found themselves responding to an unprecedented demand.
All the while, volunteer availability plummeted, warehouses needed to be rearranged, cleaning protocols were updated, and new distributions were established.
At the same time, we worked around the clock to make sure food banks’ needs were known at the highest levels, and that nourishing our communities remained a top priority.
Keeping Food Banks Stocked
In addition to the farm-fresh produce we deliver each month, we work with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to supply food banks, community organizations, and tribes with prepackaged, shelf stable food boxes — including to communities impacted by the wildfires in the summer and fall of 2020.
Influencing Policies that Impact Hunger
Early on, we worked directly with state government offices to clearly establish the role of food banks as essential food providers. We’ve successfully pushed for flexibility in numerous nutrition programs as well as advising on Pandemic EBT to further support families’ food needs. We continue to push the federal government to pass legislation that supports basic financial, housing, and food security needs, including a 15% boost for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
Securing Funding for Food Banks
We secured $20M from the state to distribute food to our members in the first weeks of the pandemic, and have secured three times that over the months following. We have also sought grants from philanthropic partners to provide privately donated financial resources to our member food banks and are actively engaged in cause-marketing.
Connecting People with Public Benefits
We’ve supported our 50+ outreach partners to pivot to online chat, phone support, or alternate ways of connecting with the millions of individuals newly-eligible CalFresh. Working with CDSS, we successfully advocated to establish online grocery purchasing to ease the burden of getting to a grocery store, to make it easier for people to apply for the program, as well as to increase the overall amount of benefits families are receiving.
Unlocking Workforce Support
We quickly secured the deployment of the National Guard and other state assets to support food banks. We remain in close communication with California volunteers to keep the ongoing need for workforce support front and center, and also encourage volunteerism at food banks through the Californians for All initiative.