As always, things are moving at a brisk pace at the Valley Food Bank. Our team of talented staff and dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to evaluate the services we provide to the community, as well as study efficiencies modeled by other food banks in an effort to create innovative approaches to ending hunger in the Valley.
As one of the largest food providers in the Valley, our role is to work with our pantry network, schools, places of worship and other non-profit agencies serving the needy. We are serving 3,800 families each month (that represents over 14,000 individuals), plus the families served by other non-profits, but we fall way short of meeting all the needs.
The shortfall, also known as our community-feeding gap, stems primarily from capacity. Partner agencies are run by wonderfully intentioned volunteers, with limited resources, capital or food distribution experience. How could we expect them to feed more of the Valley’s food insecure if they could not purchase, collect, and transport or store more resources?
The first step in our capacity building effort was to secure funding for our expanded refrigeration/freezer units thereby allowing us to acquire more perishable food resources for distribution. The second effort was training for proper food handling, as well as training on how to engage “difficult” people in need of services. From our training, we learned many recipients were reluctant to take some food items because they either did not know what they were or could not read the packaging. We did an interesting exercise of relabeling food packages in other languages and asked the volunteers to identify the items. We quickly learned that we could use students and seniors as interpreters to assist with these situations.
For the first time in more than 15 years, dozens of organizations, all with the same mission of alleviating hunger, are coming together. We believe this approach is how the Valley will become the first food secure area in our county. When working together, donating, volunteering, feeding others we are working to create a better tomorrow for our neighbors in need. Your continued support of our ongoing campaign of Fighting Hunger – Feeding Hope will and is making a difference.