'Our busiest summer in the history of the organization:' Sacramento area food banks feel the impact of inflation
About 700,000 people in the Sacramento area are food insecure. Here are some organizations making a difference.
In years past, Thanksgiving has been a time when many people volunteer their time to "feed the hungry."
For a long time, there‘s been an image of who “the hungry" is.
But the reality is, with the rising costs of living, the hungry are your neighbors.
About 700,000 people in our area or one in 11 Californians are food insecure. They don't have enough food on the table.
Recently, ABC10's Van Tieu spoke to those in the community making a difference. She met a family who is no stranger to facing food insecurity.
"It’s this um, you know, ritual," said Martha Pacheco, Food Bank volunteer and client. "Every month, my little ones are asking me, mommy, when is the day for the food bank?"
Every Saturday, Martha Pacheco and her children help pack food at the Contra Costa Food Bank.
It’s their way of giving back when their family fell on hard times during the great recession in the early 2000's. She remembers it like yesterday.
“We lost the house," Pacheco said.
She says they were able to get back on their feet, but in 2020 — again — their family needed a helping hand. When the pandemic forced shutdowns, he husband, a commercial truck driver lost work.
“He called me, and he said, this is the last load I have- everything is closed," she said. "The jobs is closed. So we don’t know when we start again. So with the pandemic, again. The food bank is my support.”
Even as pandemic restrictions waned, Pacheco is among a record number of families in our area seeking help from food banks. Finding themselves living on the edge as the cost-of-living soars.
“Simple," Pacheco said. "The gas - it's too expensive.”
Inflation drives them to make difficult decisions.
“People are living paycheck to paycheck, very often, all you have to do is miss one or two paychecks," said Joel Sjostrom, food bank of Contra Costa and Solano president. "All of a sudden, you're trying to decide between paying rent, you know, or buying food.”
Sjostrom says its recent expansion into a 100,000-square-foot warehouse comes at a time when families are facing food insecurity at an alarming pace.
“We really need to continue to build our capacity because this is going to be here for the next few years, not the next few months,” Sjostrom said.
This is not unique.
The Sacramento Food Bank also saw increased demand during the height of the pandemic, but Spokesman Kevin Buffalino says inflation hit families harder.
“So June, July, August was our busiest summer in the history of the organization," said Buffalino. "So we fed more people throughout those three months in that timeframe than we have in nearly 50 years.”
They're compounding issues that have sent families to the food bank as first-timers in very long distribution lines.
Food banks in the region are facing rising costs as well.
During the pandemic, federal funding helped food banks, but Buffalino says that money is phased out. Yet the reality remains, 1 in 5 Sacramentans are food insecure.
“Meaning they're not sure where their next nutritious meal is going to come from, they're not putting enough food on the table," said Buffalino.
Officials from the food banks serving Contra Costa, Solano, and Sacramento Counties say they're pushing for more help from government agencies.
“I think there's a there's an awareness out with our elected officials and the general public about food insecurity that we haven't had, maybe ever. And so with that, we anticipate good legislation USDA," said Sjostrom.
But in the meantime, they say community donations have been vital to helping to feed families in need. For every dollar donated to the food bank, they are able to feed five families.
Below in each chapter, you will find out about food banks across our region and how you can donate to make a difference in your community.
Sacramento Food Bank:
Watch: Sacramento Food Bank | Stand Against Hunger
The number of people experiencing hunger in Sacramento County continues to increase dramatically. Many families - some for the first time - are having to choose between rent, gas, medicine, and putting food on the table. Our neighbors are hurting, and over 250,000 of them are turning to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services for groceries each month. We’re on pace to distribute over 35 million pounds of food this year, an increase of 25% over the 28 million pounds distributed before the pandemic.
The need for our services is as great as ever, but with your help, we’re prepared to distribute more food to more people in more ways than ever before. When you donate $1, it can provide five meals to a local family in need.
Contra Costa Food Bank:
Watch: Contra Costa Food Bank | Stand Against Hunger
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano (FBCCS) has served its community for more than 45 years. After serving a record-high number of people over the last two years, the Food Bank continues to support those most affected by rising costs of food and inflation. The Food Bank currently serves nutritious food through a network of over 260 local partners and nonprofits, serving 270,000 people every month.
FBCCS also strategically engages in advocacy work to raise awareness and mobilize support to end hunger and is recognized as one of Feeding America’s Hall of Fame honor roll members for excellence in advocacy. During times of crisis, The Food Bank serves as a second responder, providing access to food in communities impacted by natural disasters, including wildfires. With 97 cents of every $1 donated going toward food distribution, FBCCS is committed to financial transparency and consistently earns Charity Navigator’s highest four-star rating.
Stockton Food Bank:
Watch: Stockton Food Bank | Stand Against Hunger
The Emergency Food Bank Stockton/San Joaquin has served the community for 54 years. During the first six months of 2022, the food bank has served a record 142,882 families. That is an increase of 119% during the same period prior to the pandemic.
Placer County Food Bank:
Watch: Placer County Food Bank | Stand Against Hunger
Placer Food Bank, a member-affiliate of Feeding America, began in 1970 and hasn't stopped delivering food assistance to communities since. It has grown from a small grassroots agency to the leading hunger relief advocate and food distributor to people of all ages and in varying life circumstances in El Dorado, Nevada, and Placer Counties. Placer Food Bank provides access to nutritious, fresh produce and shelf-stable grocery products through its network of partner agencies and also through its PantryToGo free drive-through food distributions at 10 locations in Placer and El Dorado counties.
Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center:
Watch: Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center | Stand Against Hunger
Started in 1996 as part of the Western Placer Unified School District (WPUSD), the Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center started serving families with children attending WPUSD. About a decade later, Lighthouse became a separate 501c3 non-profit which allowed Lighthouse to expand its operations and serve more families in the Lincoln area. Lighthouse is a full-service Counseling and Family Resource Center serving approximately 4,000 Placer County residents each year.
Click HERE to learn more about Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center.
Yolo County Food Bank:
Watch: Yolo Food Bank | Stand Against Hunger
Yolo Food Bank began more than fifty years ago as a volunteer-run gleaning program. Today, it serves the nutritional needs of nearly 150,000 households annually in Yolo County. Working with a network of passionate volunteers, committed donors, grocers, retailers, farmers, processors, and food distributors, Yolo Food Bank recovers, collects, and stores more than 11 million pounds of food each year. Food is distributed through nearly 130 distributions and more than 60 nonprofit partners – which include hyperlocal food pantries, college campuses, healthcare facilities, migrant centers, and faith-based and community-based organizations.
Despite being known for its abundant agricultural economy, food security is an everyday concern for many Yolo County residents. An alarming 60% of those attending our food distributions obtain more than half of their weekly groceries from our "Eat Well Yolo" program, and more than 20% of our food recipients say they receive nearly all or all of their weekly groceries from Yolo Food Bank. Working families and their children represent the majority of those served, and senior citizens and food system workers are impacted disproportionately. By nourishing our most vulnerable neighbors, Yolo Food Bank plays a vital role in advancing the quality of life for all who live and do business in Yolo County.
Stand Against Hunger Campgain:
Hundreds of thousands of families, children, single parents, seniors, and other members of your community will wake up tomorrow not knowing where their next meal will come from. This includes not knowing if they'll have food for the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Make a direct impact on your community and help give these people the meals they deserve. Join ABC10 and Wells Fargo in the 2022 Stand Against Hunger. Every dollar you give ensures no one goes without a meal this holiday season and into the new year. Donate today to the food bank of your choice.
LEARN MORE ABOUT FOOD INSECURITY: