This guest post was written by the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which has been in business since 1985 … with a vision toward a day when we can go out of business. We are the hub of a vast collection and distribution network that provides food for 275 nonprofit agencies in Alameda County. In 2010, the Food Bank distributed 20.1 million pounds of food — 52% of it fresh fruits and vegetables.
While the Bay Area was abuzz about the snowfall that wasn’t a few weeks ago, the fresh produce that the Alameda County Community Food Bank relies on was freezing in the fields. We were two truckloads short of food last week (that’s 80,000 pounds), and the impact of the freeze on newly planted crops will be felt well into the summer months.
We won’t see broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potatoes for a month … maybe not until summer. Other staples, like apples, corn and peppers, will cost us 60 to 70 percent more. That adds up to about $10,000 per month in additional expense for the Food Bank –- for far less fresh food.
You can help us bridge the gap by donating to the Frost Bite Fund today.
The Food Bank has broken record levels of distribution every year – and in 2010, for the first time, more than half of the food that went out our doors was fresh fruits and vegetables.
While this is great news for the low-income families whose access to produce is limited, it means we are much more sensitive to weather events like the recent freeze. With less food available, the price of the foods we purchase will go up, and the surpluses we rely on will dwindle and perhaps disappear.
“We get most of our produce for pennies on the dollar,” said Ron Clark of the California Association of Food Banks, which administers the Farm to Family program. “An increase of a nickel per pound can add up quickly – when we’re trying to make those food dollars stretch as far as we can, this freeze is a huge hit.”
Food-drive donations simply can’t make up for this shortfall. Impacts are expected well into the summer months.
How can you help?
The Food Bank is fortunate that this frost came at the same time as our Winter Challenge. A generous donor has offered to match every donation up to $50,000 until March 31. With 23 days left in March, we have $20,000 still to go to meet that goal.
In 2009, the Blogoaksphere Virtual Food Drive brought in more than $2,500 for the Food Bank. We know that with your help, we can continue to distribute the foods needed most in low-income communities.