Food and Economic Development in Davis: Yolo Food Bank, Part 1 of 3

Tyler Schilling, founder of Schilling Robotics, addressing fellow End Hunger Yolo capital campaign donors last week

“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.” -City of Davis Mayor Brett Lee

By Michael Bisch

Kudos to our local leaders  who have taken the initiative to focus our community upon the benefits of a more sustainable and equitable local food system. The series of conversations they spearheaded over the past six months,  and the resulting Food and Economic Development in Davis Report (FED)  capturing the findings, are timely, as Yolo Food Bank prepares to dramatically increase food rescue and distribution operations from our community’s new $9.5 million food distribution and operations facility.

Your Food Bank was invited to participate in  the FED community engagement process, and our contributions were embraced and incorporated into several of the Priority Action Areas identified in the report.  We look forward to the upcoming presentation of the report at the Davis City Council meeting this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., and to any Council commentary that might ensue.

In preparation for the presentation, your Food Bank offers updates that may inform the community dialogue.   Today’s commentary, part 1 of 3 of these updates,  focuses upon the following Priority Action Area to “Establish Davis as a Sustainable Food Testing Lab, Leading in Climate-Smart Food Practices.”

In addressing this Priority Action Area, the report states, “A sustainable food system supports the environmental, economic and social well-being of the communities it serves, as well as its future generations… If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, behind the U.S. and China. Food is the largest single source of waste in California. (California Integrated Waste Management Board). If the City of Davis wants to continue to lead in sustainability, it will need to focus on sustainable food practices. Food system activities, including producing food, transporting it, and storing wasted food in landfills, all of which produce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change. Reducing emissions is important to long-term environmental sustainability, while food rescue, a key solution to food waste, can help alleviate food insecurity and increase food access.”

Among the Specific Action Steps identified to move this Priority Action Area forward, is a call to “Apply to grant programs (e.g. CalRecycle) to secure funds for food rescue and food waste prevention.”

Yolo Food Bank (as lead applicant) and the County of Yolo (as co-applicant) have done just that, with successful results.  Enhanced by letters of support from a broad base of civic and corporate leaders, CalRecycle recently awarded $500,000 — the maximum award possible and the ONLY award to a Yolo County applicant — on behalf of the residents served by your Food Bank.  The Food Waste and Prevention Grant was highly competitive, with 60 applicants Statewide vying for only $11 million in funding.  Yolo County is a small, rural county, and yet Yolo prevailed over much larger urban areas.

The leaders supporting this successful CalRecycle Food Waste and Prevention Grant represent the following organizations:

University of California, Davis

Woodland Community College

Yolo County Office of Education

City of Davis

City of West Sacramento

City of Winters

City of Woodland

California State Senate District 3, Senator Bill Dodd

California State Senate District 6, Senator Richard Pan

4th California Assembly District, Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry

7th California Assembly District, Assemblymember McCarty

Farm Fresh To You



Nugget Markets

Kate Stille, co-owner Nugget Markets, addressing fellow End Hunger Yolo capital campaign donors last week

The $500,000 CalRecycle grant was awarded as a “match” to the County’s recent investment of $500,000 in the Food Bank’s new facility.  Together, these funds will provide critically-needed equipment and one-time “start-up” costs, ensuring that Yolo Food Bank’s new facility serves the County at full potential, and is positioned to meet the full food security need for the next several decades.  In addition, these funds and the work of your Food Bank will make possible:

  • The leveraging of the County’s investment in a de-packager and a biodigester. Once operational in the Fall, this will provide for increased recycling of packaging materials and the removal and composing of sugary and unhealthy beverages and snacks from the food distribution system.
  • A County-administered, food rescue education program.
  • The acquisition of Primarius, a food bank management system, introducing technology to track, record and analyze these collaborative landfill diversion efforts.

Davis and the other communities of Yolo County stand to doubly benefit from this collective CalRecycle victory, by realizing the positive environmental impacts of diverting food waste from our landfills, as well as the increased availability of fresh, nutritious food for our vulnerable neighbors.

To further ensure that the programmatic promise of the new Food Bank facility is maximized, Yolo Food Bank has embarked upon a new major gifts initiative, the Nourish Yolo campaign.  During this first year at the new site, the goal is to collect, store and distribute 50% more food, with an emphasis on the area’s agricultural bounty.  Nutrition education and related efforts also will be enhanced.  Meetings with stakeholders in each Yolo County community now are underway, aimed at identifying unmet food security needs, developing plans to meet the needs, and executing them.  However, this 50% lift will require a significant expansion of the Food Bank’s annual operating budget.  Nourish Yolo has a $1 million goal, intended to assist with filling that funding gap.  The role of the County, cities, UC Davis and state and federal governments in this year-long campaign, and the subsequent years of capacity building, will be essential to providing your Food Bank with the working capital required to advance its mission to end hunger and malnutrition in Yolo County.  The Food Bank looks forward to continuing to define these partnerships, such as the partnership to inform the FED report, for mutual benefit.

Michael Bisch, Executive Director of Yolo Food Bank, addressing End Hunger Yolo capital campaign donors last week

Yolo Food Bank is a primarily privately-funded nonprofit distributing four million pounds of nutritious food throughout Yolo County each year, reaching every community of every size.  With an unparalleled capability and capacity to collect, store and distribute this food, Yolo Food Bank provides unique services and opportunities to the region.  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.  You can support our neighbors who struggle to feed their families by making a gift at or by volunteering at

-Michael Bisch, Executive Director, Yolo Food Bank

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Craig Ross

    The food and ed stream is not generating a lot of discussion here.  Perhaps it’s the posting audience.  Perhaps the lack of clear land use threat to the slowby’s.  Either way, it’s too bad, some interesting stuff here.

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