In the midst of the Great Recession, more and more Sonoma County residents needed help to meet their most basic needs – like keeping a roof over their heads and feeding their families. In response, Community Foundation Sonoma County launched a five-year initiative to bolster the capacity of our local food bank to supply produce to food pantries and agencies throughout the county. A combination of Community Foundation grants and challenge grants from Donor Advised Funds enabled the Redwood Empire Food Bank to purchase and distribute several million pounds of additional fresh food each year to more than 175 member agencies at no charge. During this time the Food Bank also launched a capital campaign to build new facilities, and Community Foundation donors provided $1.4 million dollars toward the effort. This partnering of program and capital campaign support has significantly strengthened the Food Bank’s core capacity to supply fresh, healthy food to the county’s neediest residents.
Hunger is a complex problem that cannot be solved overnight, and our support for addressing homelessness continues. In February, the Redwood Empire Food Bank hosted the first Hunger Index Forum to bring together leaders and change-makers to discuss how Sonoma County can collectively work to close the meal gap. The forum was sponsored by Community Foundation Sonoma County and co-moderated by CFSC board member Oscar Chavez and Joseph McIntyre of Ag Innovations Network. Through a panel and discussion, over 200 participants sought to answer the question: “In what ways can we as a community rally together to address hunger in Sonoma County?” Read the resulting calls to action, and join us in working to end hunger in our community.