The face of hunger has changed in America and Katherine Avila, food drive coordinator for the Alameda County Community Food Bank is speaking out on the need to do something about it. She told Realtors and their associates at a recent meeting of the Valley Real Estate Network that one in five Alameda County residents need some kind of assistance. An estimated 20% of the county’s population wonders where their next meal will come from.
It’s even worse in these summer months when schools are closed. For many families, Avila points out, affordable and often free school meals are a critical part of making sure low-income children have consistent access to healthy food.
“When there’s no school, there are no school meals,” Avila said. “Bridging this gap puts an enormous burden on families that are already stretched to make ends meet. For some, it’s simply unachievable. The choices they face -- food or rent, food or medicine, food or gas to get to work -- are decisions no one should have to make.”
That's why the county Community Food Bank is now sponsoring its “Fields to Family” campaign, providing fresh fruits and vegetables to help children, adults and seniors. In fact, donations made to this “Summer Produce Challenge” are being matched through tomorrow, July 15, dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000 by food bank sponsors.
Established in 1985, the Community Food Bank is a fast-growing, dynamic organization at the forefront of hunger?relief efforts in the Bay Area. As one of the most efficient, direct-impact organizations in the country, few nonprofits are as well-respected – or make such an impact on the community – than this organization. It was ranked among the top 2% of nonprofits nationwide by Charity.
Avila said the Food Bank serves 116,000 people each month -- primarily children and seniors -- and distributes enough food for 25 million meals through its innovative programming and extensive network of 240 food pantries, soup kitchens and other community partner organizations.
“We’re forward thinkers who encourage innovation in our work,” she told Realtors. “We change lives and we’re having fun doing it!”
But the Food Bank needs more than money to meet the summertime surge in the number of hungry households. Its warehouses are currently packed fresh nectarines, plums, broccoli and much more.
“Right now, we have tons of food to help fill that gap, but we are in critical need of more helping hands,” Avila said, in urging Realtors and others to consider spending just three hours with the organization packing bags and boxes of food.
“We simply can't do our work without our volunteers' time and energy,” she added.
The face of hunger has changed,” Avila said. It can be a senior citizen in a book club at the Pleasanton Senior Center who can’t pay for her prescriptions and also the food she needs, a student at UC Berkeley who’s so short of funds that he uses his food budget fund to stay enrolled, or even a family in a spacious home whose wage earners are suddenly unemployed and no longer have enough food on the table.
The Community Food Bank will hold a public fundraiser to launch its fall campaign on Sunday, Sept. 17 at Wente Vineyards. For more information and to learn how to donate time and contributions to the Food Bank, sign on to www.accfb.org/