New Monday food distribution opportunity addresses local food insecurities

Evenings have been identified by Yolo Food Bank as an important opportunity to provide food distribution services not just in Winters, but throughout Yolo County.
Photo by Rosemary Hemenway/Winters Express Site coordinator Silvia Garcia sorts food in preparation for the Yolo Food Bank distribution event Monday July, 1.

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Congruent with the opening of their new facility in Woodland and a larger need for fresh produce and vegetables in the absence of the Kids Farmers Market, Yolo Food Bank launched a new evening food distribution to the Winters community. It will take place every Monday evening from 4-6 p.m. at the Yolo County Health & Human Services Agency facility located at 111 E. Grant Ave. “Winters is a small community and we’re extremely happy that we’re able to be there,” said Julian Zook, Yolo Food Bank Program Coordinator. According to Zook, the first food distribution on Monday, June 17 they served around 27 families. The second food distribution on Monday, June 24 reached about 65 families. The growth is a great sign as the new evening distribution has only been marketed through a Facebook post and word of mouth.  Joy Cohan, Yolo Food Bank Director of Philanthropic Engagement, said this is their first evening distribution. Cohan said Yolo Food Bank met with Winters City Manager John Donlevy and representatives from the Winters city government, school district and local nonprofits in part of a series of meetings dubbed “Increasing Food Security in Your Community.” It was determined an evening food distribution was needed in Winters.  According to Cohan, evenings are becoming increasingly important to provide food distribution services not just in Winters, but county wide. Through the community meetings it was realized that there are many  families in which one or more adults are working around the clock trying to meet ends meet. “This is where the services of the food bank can be incredibly important,” said Cohan. “But because they are working families and employed full time they cannot be available for a food distribution at 10 in the morning or 1 in the afternoon.” She said while Yolo Food Bank does serve the homeless in Yolo County, they only constitute a small percentage of Yolo County residents who experience food insecurity. According to Cohan, 39,000 Yolo County residents are living in poverty, and the true number is not necessarily known due to those who do not want to report. Zook noted the need for more distribution in the evenings is across Yolo County. Yolo Food Bank is working to add new food distributions or change existing ones to meet those needs. This includes new Saturday food distribution opportunities in other communities.  “Meeting needs identified in Winters and other counties—we are changing the model of how we work,” said Cohan. “We are finding that to really fulfill our mission we are going to have to shift that model. It’s our intention to continue this distribution as long as it continues to fulfill the need in the community.” Yolo Food Bank currently offers multiple food bank distributions in Winters and throughout Yolo County. Cohan said they distribute food through direct distribution (Eat Well Yolo and Kids Farmers Market programs) and through partnerships with nonprofits who operate their own food pantries, food closets and food distributions. With their facility located in Woodland, Yolo Food Bank relies on partnerships with nonprofits to help fulfill their mission beyond their resources.  Cohan said they need strong community partners to do these food distributions, and this new Monday evening distribution is a great example of how nonprofits are able to help provide vital resources to make immediate change in communities.  “It’s a wonderful example of how a nonprofit and government agency can collaborate together for the better of the community,” said Cohan. “When we collaborate and bring the best of what both of us have to offer to the table there can be a great outcome.” Zook said there are no qualifications required to participate in the Monday evening distribution in Winters (or at any Yolo Food Bank direct food distribution). He said Yolo Food Bank believes it is important to remove any stigmas attached to accessing food.  “We would not want stigma to be in the way of someone being comfortable to access food,” said Zook. “By removing qualifications and moving toward more open, friendly accessible sites, all of that helps to reduce that barrier.” The Monday evening distribution in Winters is held in the front of the Yolo County Health & Human Services Agency building. Zook said they observed folks have started to line up between 3:15-3:30 p.m., and food distribution begins at 4 p.m. Community members are encouraged to bring bags, boxes or whatever they can to transport food. At this food distribution they primarily offer fresh fruits and vegetables, but they may also have dairy, bread and other dried foods like granola, cereal and cake mix.  “You can get a little taste of everything at this distribution site, but it is primarily fresh produce,” said Zook. All food distribution opportunities in Winters, and Yolo County, are listed on the Yolo Food Bank website yolofoodbank.org. The “Find Food” tab offers a resource map and details of the 81 food distribution programs from Yolo Food Bank and their partner agencies. “Increasing our service to Winters is a critical part of us meeting the food insecurity needs of the county. We hope the Winters community will take advantage of this opportunity as well as the eight other food access points in Winters,” said Cohan. Community members can get information on how to volunteer at Winters food distribution opportunities (and any Yolo County food distribution) online at https://yolofoodbank.org/volunteer/ or by calling 530-668-0690 and indicating an interest in volunteering.  Nonprofits interested in becoming a partner or individuals interested in donating can also get more information at the Yolo Food Bank website or by  calling the above number.]]>

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  1. Nice! Now can we translate this important piece, to reach the other half of this community? Great work Crystal.

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