Food Bank of El Dorado County
● By Style
Photo by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
Mike Sproull will be the first to tell you that when he was young, he was a bad boy.
“I got in trouble a lot, but before my dad passed away in 2009, he made me promise to start this charity,” Sproull says. “He worked hard all his life and never had the chance to give back to the community we’d always called home. This charity was how he thought he could move his wayward son into doing something good.” Today, the Food Bank of El Dorado County serves as many as 10,000 people every month through a network of more than 30 charities that deliver food to the needy across the region.
For most, it may sound surprising that so many people face hunger right here in El Dorado County. But beyond El Dorado Hills and the 50 Corridor, much of the population is spread widely across the county, almost “hidden” in smaller towns and rural areas. It’s in those parts where there’s the most need. “People are hurting out there – many are sick, elderly or shut in and can’t even get to the store,” Sproull says. “It’s not like urban areas, where hunger is more visible; there is real hunger right here in our own backyards that many of us don’t even see.”
That’s why a big part of Sproull’s work is educating his fellow El Dorado County citizens on what the need is, how people can get help if they require it, and how they can offer help where it’s needed. Certainly, the biggest demand is for food donations; importantly, the Food Bank isn’t solely about canned goods. Anything is fair game. To that point, sportsmen and women who have full freezers should take note. “We can even take wild game; we’re one of the few programs able to do that,” Sproull says. “Any type of food can be brought in. We take it all and we give it all away. Just give us a call, and we’ll make it easy to donate.”
Along with food donations, volunteers, financial support and other in-kind contributions are needed. More than 80 percent of the organization’s budget comes directly from the community, and through its efficient operations, the Food Bank turns every dollar of support into $5 of assistance. Last year alone, it turned a $500,000 budget into more than $2.5 million worth of food for hungry families. “We want all individuals and families in El Dorado County who face hunger to have the opportunity to get nutritious foods at all times,” Sproull says.
One of the newest tools in that effort is the Mobile Pantry, a retrofitted 40-foot trailer that currently serves about 60 homebound residents every month.