The Legislation You Might Not Heard of That Helps Makes Food Banking Possible
Ezer Pamintuan, Senior Policy Advocate
The first thing you might notice about the Food Bank is its sheer size. With over 100,000 square feet of warehouse and office space, its scale is immense. Sometimes, people assume that the Food Bank is a food pantry; in fact, our fleet of semi-trucks arriving at and departing from the Food Bank throughout the day distribute food to hundreds of partner food pantries, kitchens, shelters, and other distribution facilities throughout Alameda County. As you pass through our doors, you can begin to see what makes this operation possible.
Entering the Community Engagement Center at the far end of the Food Bank, you’ll be greeted by dozens of volunteers sorting, processing, and bagging fresh produce and packaged food. As you walk through the passageway from the Community Engagement Center (always taking the painted yellow path, for safety!), you will catch sight of the lines of vast shelves stacked with rows of pallets, just like you might see at your local Costco. Forklifts run to and fro, stocking and removing these pallets and entering our massive freezer and refrigerators, each as large as buildings in their own right. Soon, this food will be loaded onto our trucks or offered at our Community Market for our partner agencies to pick up. Every day, ACCFB distributes around 120,000 meals to the community.
Where Does All This Food Come From?
You’re probably familiar with some of the ways ACCFB receives its food. You may have dropped groceries into one of our donation barrels or have led a food drive yourself. You might even know that we purchase a large percentage of our food directly from farmers, manufacturers, and distributors, or that we partner with local grocery stores to recover healthy food that would otherwise have been wasted.
But did you know that a significant portion of the food that ACCFB and food banks across the country distribute comes from the federal government? This is where the Farm Bill comes in.
When you hear, “Farm Bill,” the first thing you probably think of is “farms,” and much of this legislation does in fact have to do with agriculture. But the majority of the funding provided by the Farm Bill goes to critical nutrition programs. Passed by Congress every five years, the Farm Bill provides much needed support to the country’s food banks as we address hunger in our communities.
CalFresh – Our Indispensable Tool for Fighting Hunger
Photo by Dino Vournas for Hill and Company
As you reach the end of your walk through the warehouse, you’ll arrive at one of our office spaces. Entering through the doors, you’ll see the room where our Client Services Team is taking phone calls and meeting with community members interested in applying for CalFresh.
CalFresh (known nationwide as SNAP, and formerly known as “food stamps”) is the nation’s most effective anti-hunger program. We consider CalFresh to be so critical to our mission that we have a team of 15 full-time staff dedicated to assisting community members with their CalFresh applications and taking phone calls from people who want to learn more about this program.
And as you might have already guessed, CalFresh is funded by the Farm Bill. It’s simple: The Farm Bill fuels our work to end hunger.
A Once-In-Five-Years Opportunity
This year, a new Farm Bill is due to be passed. Members of Congress are debating right now what will be in it. This is where you come in. We’re advocating for a Farm Bill that protects, strengthens, and expands equitable access to anti-hunger programs, including food bank funding and CalFresh – and we need your help. Sign up at accfb.org/advocacy to hear about an opportunity to contact your Member of Congress on September 7.
This opportunity only comes once every five years. Join us in seizing the moment to advance our fight to end hunger.