Continued Pandemic Food Access Disruption Prompts $1.5 Million Phase II Yolo Food Bank COVID-19 Relief Fund

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Long lines of vehicles await food distribution in May 2020 at Yolo Food Bank’s “Eat Well Yolo” site at the Yolo County Fairgrounds. According to organization leadership, needs for assistance currently are undiminished, and more disruption to food access is anticipate due to rising Delta variant concerns in Yolo County.

 Special to the Vanguard

Championed by lead donor Clark Pacific, Yolo Food Bank is initiating an urgent $1.5 million COVID-19 Relief Fund – Phase II this week, in response to ongoing and intensifying community needs for food assistance congruent with the rising spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout Yolo County.  It’s the organization’s intent to reach the funding goal by the end of the calendar year.

The initial phase of the relief fund, launched in March 2020, successfully raised more than $3 million, enabling Yolo Food Bank to increase service dramatically from six million pounds of food distributed annually, to an estimated 12 million pounds in 2021, benefiting the wellbeing of more than 60,000 Yolo County residents.  Dignified and contactless drive-through distributions began, access was expanded in underserved neighborhoods and rural areas, and a home-delivery program was launched for senior citizens and others who aren’t able to easily visit the now nearly 130 distributions around the county that Yolo Food Bank supports each month.

“We’re enormously grateful to our donors who have made our pandemic response possible thus far,” shared Yolo Food Bank Executive Director Michael Bisch.  “However, it’s been clear for some time that the elevated need for nutrition in Yolo County wasn’t diminishing as COVID-19 rates initially did following availability of the vaccine during the Spring.  There was so much unmet need pre-pandemic that rose to the surface as the crisis unmasked the inequities present in our local food system, and that hasn’t gone away.  Yolo Food Bank experienced a three-fold increase in service demand at the start of the pandemic and has endeavored to maintain this increased level of food assistance at nearly identical rates for 18 months, at a cost of approximately $500,000 a month provided largely by private donors.  It’s a heavy – but worthy – lift for our team.”

Now, the disruption caused by the prevalence of the Delta variant is again exacerbating

pre-existing conditions of poor nutritional access in many Yolo County neighborhoods, as well as creating new needs, Bisch explained, prompting the new phase of the COVID-19 Relief Fund.  The immediate initiation of Phase II by Bisch’s team is being kicked off by a generous gift from Clark Pacific, a manufacturer of pre-fabricated building systems with corporate headquarters in West Sacramento and a manufacturing facility in Woodland.

“Economic vitality is critical to community resilience in this challenging time, and the only way to help move the county forward is taking care of the people of the community,” commented Clark Pacific Co-CEO Don Clark.  “Determination, innovation, and wellbeing are our core values at Clark Pacific, and Yolo Food Bank is a key partner in keeping the Yolo County community nourished and thriving, and why investing in the Phase II COVID-19 Relief Fund is a priority for us.  We care and we hope others will join us in this support.”

Donations to the Phase II COVID-19 Relief Fund from individuals and businesses countywide are invited, either online at https://yolofoodbank.org/donate-covid-19/, or via check mailed to Yolo Food Bank at 233 Harter Avenue, Woodland 95776.  Gifts of stock or other securities also can be arranged by contacting Director of Philanthropic Engagement Joy Cohan at joy@yolofoodbank.org.

“This second phase of COVID-19 relief at Yolo Food Bank is congruent with our long-term objective to develop an equitable, sustainable local food system benefiting the health and wellness of all Yolo County residents,” Bisch explained.  “We call this effort ‘Nurture Yolo,’ and the COVID-19 Relief Fund, sparked by Clark Pacific, ensures that Yolo Food Bank itself remains healthy through year’s end, despite the current COVID-19 threat.  This means a brighter future can be possible for the nearly 50% of our neighbors who don’t earn enough to predictably cover their basic needs each month.”

To learn more about how philanthropy and volunteerism propel Yolo Food Bank amidst the public health threat, or to connect with food assistance, visit www.yolofoodbank.org.

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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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