by Suzan Bateson, Executive Director of ACCFB 

With the busy holiday season behind us and the new year well underway, I want to take a moment and express my gratitude to you — every one of you in our community — for your passion, commitment and support over the last year. You are our heroes.

It goes without saying, 2017 was a difficult year. Lines at our partner agencies grew longer. A tumultuous political climate and threats to undermine vital programs that help low-income communities created a climate of uncertainty that we haven’t seen since the 2008 recession. Executive orders threatened people based on immigration status; and there were attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and CalFresh (SNAP/“food stamps”).

The uncertainty extended right up to the end of 2017 when Congress passed its tax bill. It’s a plan that, from many angles, poses a significant threat to our community, our organization, and our mission. It’s a plan we fought hard to stop.

Its passing unfortunately raises more questions — and more uncertainty.

The biggest concern is how it’ll affect the people we serve. Many experts are predicting devastating cuts to critical safety net programs to pay for tax breaks in the bill. Cuts to programs like CalFresh or Medicaid will only cause greater financial stress on the families and individuals we serve – putting more demand on food banks like ours to fill the gap.

But it’s also no secret that the plan threatens charitable giving – our lifeline – by reducing charitable giving tax incentives. Judging by the amount of questions we’ve received from our supporters about how this will affect us, we know you’re concerned. We are too. Certainly the changes to the deduction limits pose threats – and while we expect to see some effect, the scary thing is we really won’t know until much later in 2018 (if not the end) just how much it’ll affect us.

What I can say, definitively, is this: We can’t afford to be scared; we can’t afford to be deterred; and, most importantly, I have full faith that you — our community — will remain committed to our mission and a future where every child, adult and senior in Alameda County knows where their next meal is coming from.

Tax incentives are one reason we’re fortunate to benefit from community support. But I know it’s not the most important. Our community is passionate about our work, and our mission. You are an extraordinarily compassionate bunch and our staff, our partners, and those we serve see first hand every day the impact you make on our community.

We will need your support more than ever in 2018– and I may be calling on you a bit more this year as we fight to ensure our friends, co-workers, family members, and neighbors have access to healthy meals.

Lastly, please keep an eye out for our emails, newsletters, social media posts and website for a number of other fun and meaningful ways to join us.

From special volunteer shifts on Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez day to engaging in our advocacy work – we’ll need all the help we can get.

Thank you for your commitment—and partnership—as we continue to pursue a hunger free Alameda County.