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Monday, November 1, 2010

Food Bank Annual Food and Funds Drive

Redwood Empire Food Bank Launches 
Annual Food and Funds Drive
As Poverty, Hunger Continue to Rise

The Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) today launched its annual Winter Food & Funds Drive, an increasingly important seasonal appeal as economic recession, poverty and hunger continue to take their toll on families, children and seniors in Sonoma County.

“We’re launching our annual drive at a time of unprecedented hardship for more and more of our neighbors,” said David Goodman, Executive Director of the REFB.

“When I took this job 10 years ago, we distributed food to about 30,000 Sonoma County residents every month,” Goodman said. “Now every month we are providing food to 78,000 people in Sonoma County, and there’s no reason to expect any significant change in the rate of increase in the immediate future.”

Since the recession began nearly three years ago, requests for help have risen steadily. All of the 147 pantries and relief organizations that use the REFB as their food resource report more demand for assistance. The REFB’s own programs are seeing more people. The number of meals distributed during this year’s annual REFB summer lunch program rose 22 percent. In June, 25,900 Sonoma County residents received food stamps, a 77 percent increase over the last two years.

“Sadly, we’re not surprised. Our recent study, “Hunger in Sonoma County / 2010,” shows that the down economy is taking a very heavy toll on our neighbors,” Goodman said. “The median household income of people who receive food relief from us directly or from our partner agencies is just $930 a month, hardly enough to even rent an apartment in our area let alone pay other bills and buy food.”

“Thus, we are asking all Sonoma County residents, businesses, organizations, faith-based groups – everyone – to step up and give what they can so that no one in our community goes hungry,” he said.

Goodman also said the steady growth of hunger is straining the REFB’s ability to deliver food to people in need.

“When I arrived in 2000, our warehouse on Industrial Drive was handling and distributing food to about 30,000 Sonoma County residents. We also were, and still are, the main source of food for low-income people living in Lake, Mendocino, Del Norte and Humboldt counties,” Goodman said. “Now we’re reaching more than twice the number of people working out of the same facility. Our refrigeration system is too small. Fresh produce is now 50 percent of the food we distribute yet only 5 percent of our storage capacity. We haven’t the space to sort, package and warehouse the food we have to have on hand for the pantries and hunger relief agencies that come to us for supplies. Our single truck bay at our headquarters limits our ability to receive and ship food quickly and efficiently.”

“We’re outgrowing our operations center and we must plan for the future which is upon us now,” he said.

The annual winter food and funds drive runs 
from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31. The goal is to collect 
225,000 lbs. of food and $165,000 in cash.

Work on the annual drive began in recent weeks as the REFB sent fliers to some 700 businesses, schools, wineries, clubs, faith-based groups and others encouraging people to host food drives at their places of businesses and other public places.

The Press Democrat on Nov. 9 will deliver “Holiday Fill’er Up” shopping bags to 58,000 home subscribers encouraging them to fill them and drop them off at Safeway, CVS/pharmacy, Santa Rosa Grocery Outlet, Whole Foods, G&G Supermarkets, FoodMaxx, Lucky and the food bank, 3320 Industrial Drive in Santa Rosa.

Non-perishable food items needed include canned goods such as tuna, soups, stews, vegetables, and fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice. Pasta, peanut butter, cereal also are needed, and Thanksgiving turkeys are especially welcome.

The newspaper’s bag also will include a self-addressed envelope if donors want to give cash instead of food.

“Cash donations are especially important as we are able to turn a $1 dollar donation into $4 worth of food relief,” Goodman said. “That means $165,000 in cash will enable us to distribute $660,000 worth of food.”

Five thousands bags will also be distributed through community food drives around the county. Additionally, 4,000 bags will be available at the checkout counters of Friedman’s Home Improvement stores in Santa Rosa and Sonoma.

REFB food donation collection barrels are being stationed at locations throughout the county, including all Sonoma County Safeways, Whole Foods Markets, CVS/pharmacies, G&G Market, Santa Rosa Grocery Outlet, Lucky, FoodMaxx and the YMCA.

Call the REFB, 707-523-7900, if you want to place a barrel at your business, clubhouse, church or temple, or home.

Food donations also may be dropped off at the Food Bank headquarters, 3320 Industrial Drive in Santa Rosa.

Cash donations can be made several ways:

Online: go to
By phone: Call 707-523-7900
By Check: Checks made out to REFB can be mailed to 3320 Industrial Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

The annual food drive in Sonoma County and throughout the entire Bay Area is receiving support through broadcast media and food stores. Those include:

Safeway/NBC11 “Share Your Holiday Food Drive”

Safeway is making it easy for shoppers. On Nov. 20, Safeway and volunteers for the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce will be urging shoppers to buy hams or turkeys to donate to the REFB. Safeway is making it very easy for shoppers. >From Nov. 15 –Dec. 11, Safeway will be offering customers with several options: $5, $7 and $15 bags designated for REFB.

Whole Foods/CBS5 “Food for Bay Area Families”

From Nov. 18-Dec. 20, Whole Foods customers will be able to make cash donations to the REFB at the check-out stands. CBS5 will be promoting food relief programs with special stories on hunger and healthy foods on its Eye on the Bay program.

ABC7 “Thanksgiving Donor Thanks”
During Thanksgiving Week, donors who give $350 or more can receive on-air recognition by ABC’s Spencer Christian during the 6 p.m. news.

KFOG “Live from the Archives”
Early this month, Radio KFOG will release its 17th special music CD, with sales benefitting REFB and all Bay Area food banks.

For more information, contact David Goodman at 707-523-7900.

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