Yolo County Food Bank development initiatives affect Davis

Yolo County Food Bank development initiatives affect Davis

Photo Credits: TIMOTHY LI / AGGIE

Yolo County Food Bank partners with organizations to improve environmental, food sustainability practices

On May 13, local leaders and founders of various companies across Yolo County, including Target and Nugget Markets, came together to address End Hunger Yolo capital campaign donors, in support of the new food and economic development plan of the Yolo County Food Bank. This plan details that in less than a year, the Yolo County Food Bank came up with sustainable, equitable food systems that have led to changes within the community. One of the goals of this ongoing project is to use a new $9.5 million food distribution and operations facility in order to keep food distribution and prevent food waste from increasing.

Michael Bisch, the executive director of Yolo County Food Bank, explained its purpose and goals.

“With an unparalleled capability and capacity to collect, store and distribute this food, Yolo Food Bank provides unique services and opportunities to the region,” Bisch said. “It has the potential to transform the nutritional paradigm of our communities, thereby reducing poverty, increasing health and education outcomes and enabling social mobility of all kinds.”

The Food and Economic Development Report in Davis (FED) details that the Yolo Food Bank will establish new Priority Action Areas that are meant to improve on keeping the community informed and making its systems more sustainable. Mayor Brett Lee suggested that he has a shared vision to promote sustainable food.

“I share the vision laid out in the report to establish Davis as a sustainable food testing lab, to lead in climate-smart food practices, to ensure access to a healthy diet for all, to make Davis a leading center for food entrepreneurship, education and innovation, and to establish a cohesive food brand and narrative for our city,” Lee said to The Davis Enterprise.

Joy Cohen, the director of Philanthropic and Engagement of Yolo County Food Bank, indicated that based on letters of support written by civic and corporate leaders across a spectrum of companies, CalRecycle decided to award Yolo County Food Bank with $500,000, a prestigious award that will greatly assist in the future investment of Yolo Food Bank’s new facility.

“Essentially, the CalRecycle Grant is meant to enable our building to execute the purpose of why it was built,” Cohen said. “The purpose is to meet the full food security need of the county. As of right now, the food security is 150 to 200% more than the 4 million pounds of food we are distributing currently and, as a result, this facility is 300 times larger. We look to see how we can expand our distribution further than the sites we already have. When it comes to UC Davis, we often think, ‘how can the food bank specifically help in the distribution food sites on campus like the pantry, and how far can we connect students to our food?’”

The leaders that helped support the CalRecycle Grant represented organizations like UC Davis, Woodland Community College, Yolo County of Education, City of Davis, Farm Fresh to You, Raley’s and Target. Furthermore, the Senate got involved in its success; California senators Bill Dodd and Richard Pan also support the FED’s plan.

Local leaders and founders stated that these funds will go further to provide the necessary equipment and startup needs for the facility so that it meets full food security for the future. Yolo Food Bank will invest in de-packagers and bio-digesters to increase the recycling of packaging materials, which helps break down and remove the compost of sugary, unhealthy beverages from the food system. These leaders and founders also discussed investments on a new county-administered food rescue education program that would allow the public to be a part of this Yolo Food Bank endeavor, opening up communication channels to inform the public.

To ensure that the new facility fulfills its promise, the Yolo Food Bank came up with a campaign called Nourish Yolo. This campaign sets up small end goals for the first year of use in the facility as it hopes to collect, store and distribute 50% more food to better educate people about nutrition.

Davis, in particular, is one of many communities that will receive the most of these benefits, as these new strategies will help avert food waste from overfilling its landfills. Positive environmental practices will ensure the increasing growth of clean and fresh foods.

“We are looking to provide greater health and well-being for our residents, a more sustainable approach to farming and food distribution for our ecosystem and to provide leadership best practices that can and will be adopted by other communities and regions,” Lee said.

Written by: Susana Jurado — city@theaggie.org