Back in 1970, Yolo Food Bank was strictly a volunteer program. In 1988, it hired its first employees and officially became a food bank. Fast forward to 2022, Yolo Food Bank now distributes nearly 12 million pounds of food annually and has become a lifeline to the communities it serves. Recently, we spoke with Maria Segoviano, Yolo Food Bank’s Director of Communications. She shared with us how Yolo Food Bank, now the only food bank in the County, had doubled its efforts during the pandemic and how those efforts continue as the lingering effects of COVID remain.
How is Yolo Food Bank helping with food insecurity and advancing nutrition security? Yolo Food Bank distributes nearly 12 million pounds of food each year to neighbors in need, via 130 distributions each month in every corner of Yolo County. This includes Yolo Food Bank’s direct distribution programs (Eat Well Yolo, Eat Home Yolo, and Kids Farmers Market), and more than 80 nonprofit partner organizations countywide.
While the pandemic appears to be losing intensity, the demand for food assistance in Yolo County remains steady. Emergency needs were joined by pre-existing needs, which were exacerbated by pandemic conditions, laying bare many food access inequities. It is now Yolo Food Bank’s objective to durably increase food and nutrition security and help create an equitable and sustainable local food system by connecting individuals and families to healthy, high-quality food and resources; collaborating with community partners to deepen outreach and address food needs; and convening key players in the community to assess progress and plan collective actions.
How has COVID changed Yolo Food Bank and the people it supports? Thanks to the generosity of donors of funds, food, and time, and the nimbleness of our staff of essential workers, Yolo Food Bank was able to adapt and respond to a three-fold increase in the demand for food assistance in a matter of weeks when COVID hit. A new home delivery program was created and implemented in days, and all food distributions were adapted quickly to meet COVID safety protocols. Pre-COVID, Yolo Food Bank distributed less than six million pounds of food annually – it ended 2020 having recovered, collected, stored, and distributed over 10 million pounds of food to tens of thousands of Yolo County residents.
“Pre-COVID, Yolo Food Bank distributed less than six million pounds of food annually – it ended 2020 having recovered, collected, stored, and distributed over 10 million pounds of food to tens of thousands of Yolo County residents.”
Tell us about the “Eat Home Yolo” program that began during the height of the pandemic. Two years ago, Yolo Food Bank swiftly activated a countywide weekly doorstep grocery delivery program now known as “Eat Home Yolo” for senior citizens and vulnerable homebound residents within days of the announcement of California’s stay-at-home order. With COVID-19 in full swing, Yolo Food Bank became Yolo County’s essential food response provider and coordinator, ramping up and adapting the format and delivery to meet the sudden and increased need.
Dozens of dedicated Yolo Food Bank volunteers and three of our partner organizations — Kare4All, Farm Fresh To You, and West Sacramento Mercy Coalition — make weekly nutritious food deliveries directly to residents’ doors. Collaborating with nonprofit partners, community leaders, and businesses in the region to deepen outreach for our homebound neighbors has made all of the difference in sustaining this effort. “Eat Home Yolo” is now an integral part of Yolo Food Bank’s operations, making about 2,400 doorstep deliveries throughout Yolo County each month.
Volunteers and donations are essential to the success of the organization. How does one sign up to donate time or money? Donations of funds and time are Yolo Food Bank’s greatest needs. Yolo Food Bank is more than 90% funded by private philanthropy – every donation is meaningful and deeply necessary to nourish the tens of thousands of struggling families and individuals that Yolo Food Bank supports each month. Last year Yolo Food Bank conducted a study at our “Eat Well Yolo” food distributions countywide and discovered that about 60% of the households we serve receive more than half of their weekly groceries from these food distributions. Furthermore, about 1/5 of food recipients say they receive nearly all or all of their weekly groceries from Yolo Food Bank. Thank you for assisting your neighbors in need!