● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
In 2000, when local hunger became an issue too prevalent to ignore, the Food Bank of El Dorado County (EDC) was formed to provide food assistance to area residents in need.
Today, the Diamond Springs-based, non-profit agency partners with more than 40 El Dorado County charities, including homeless shelters, maternity homes, rehabilitation facilities and various distribution sites to do just that.
The Food Bank’s network of supporters – monetary backers, volunteers, and product donors among them – make possible its ongoing efforts to nourish the community and advocate for the interests of those who live within its borders. In 2006 alone, the generosity of these parties helped the Food Bank distribute 1.8 million pounds of food. Sadly, there is never a shortage of mouths to feed.
“Many times people think that if you can’t see the problem, it doesn’t exist,” notes Rebecca Fisher, executive assistant of the Food Bank. “El Dorado County is a beautiful place to live, but the need for food exists here as it does anywhere. The majority of our clientele are working individuals, families and seniors with a limited income who need assistance to bridge the gap every month.” Fisher adds that the county is literally flooded with what Food Bank personnel calls “hidden hunger,” the faces of which might very well be your neighbor, classmate, or co-worker.
The economy has only deepened the need for food assistance, as the Food Bank has seen a 30-percent increase in the number of individuals it serves — a figure that, staggeringly, continues to rise. Monetary donations and product contributions, however, are down. Still resolute in its mission to prevent hunger and provide hope, the Food Bank sends a driver to local stores every morning to collect dated, dented, or near-expired items that can be distributed instead of wasted. Though the challenges are many, the Food Bank’s commitment to the community has not wavered. Fisher says, “We want everyone to know that we are here and always available.”
Among the Food Bank’s generous give-back services is the new Senior Staples program, which once a month ensures a delivery of perishable and non-perishable food items to homebound seniors. Complementing this program and others is the distribution of holiday food baskets. The Food Bank also publishes and mails a quarterly newsletter with a calendar of events for and to supporters. A special supplement to this newsletter, “Food Matters,” will list holiday distribution sites, fundraising events and a schedule of television appearances on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, to spotlight hunger and local food banking. Beyond these achievements, notes project manager for the Food Bank, Guillermo DeCoteau, is an increase in food bag production (from 1,800 to 2,400 per month) in 2009, and the just-completed 3rd Annual Walk for Hunger. The Food Bank is determined to increase visibility of its community partners and has plans to overhaul its Web site, produce programs for local cable access television, and conduct man-on-the-street fundraising.
For more information or to donate, visit the organization at foodbankedc.org, or call 530-621-9950.