Saturday, October 10, 2020

Food for People Rebuilds

Posted By on Sat, Oct 10, 2020 at 1:38 PM

click to enlarge Food for People team member Veronica Brooks packing produce in preparation for a free produce distribution. - SUBMITTED
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  • Food for People team member Veronica Brooks packing produce in preparation for a free produce distribution.
Food for People is rebuilding its main site after the building faced devastating sewer damage in February.

"Following the sewer disaster that occurred at Food for People’s main site earlier this year they are moving forward with plans to rebuild creating a food bank facility that will ensure every person in Humboldt County in need can access nutritious foods," the release states.

In February, Food for People's Eureka headquarters sustained $80,000 in structural damage and $47,000 in food losses after a city sewer back up flooded the building.

According to the release, Food for People will rebuild its facility with added warehouse space that will enable them to better support and enhance its county-wide network of 17 pantries and 18 diverse hunger relief, advocacy, and job training programs.

The new building will help Food for People distribute more emergency foods, as the COVID-19 pandemic has added demand to the food distribution center.

Read the full press release below. 

Rebuilding Food for People

Food for People is rebuilding after disaster. Following the sewer disaster that occurred at Food for People’s main site earlier this year they are moving forward with plans to rebuild creating a food bank facility that will ensure every person in Humboldt County in need can access nutritious foods, and local children, seniors, and families can connect with services that address the root causes of hunger and poverty.

Over the last four decades, Food for People has grown into the principal hunger-relief organization in Humboldt County serving more than 12,000 each month; providing food to nearly 100 partner agencies; distributing food to 3,600 children and more than 2,500 seniors every year; reaching the most rural areas of Humboldt County; and meeting the emergency food needs that arise locally during a natural disaster, emergency, or global pandemic. The sewer inundation that occurred on February 28th stuck a tough blow to Food for People’s facility and operations, but they have persevered and are ready to move forward, from the figurative ashes, to build a new and improved food bank facility.

Food for People’s aging building went from useable and overcrowded to requiring evacuation due to failed infrastructure amid a sewer inundation on February 28, 2020.

Since the pandemic, Food for People has been hard at work distributing emergency foods, making use of temporary leased spaces, but they are not a long term solution to the emergency response needs for the future. Food for People currently lacks a permanent facility to provide food assistance to the community.

In order to address the long-term needs for hunger relief and food assistance in our community Food for People is will rebuild its facility and add warehouse space. This will enable Food for People to better support and enhance their county-wide network of 17 pantries and 18 diverse hunger relief, advocacy, and job training programs.

Expanded services will include space for partners to connect people with an array of community support services that promote stability and lead to a better quality of life; improve the quality of food served by expanding cold storage to prioritize healthy foods and reduce food waste; and expanded job training to improve employment prospects for people experiencing adversity by providing work skills in warehouse operations, front desk reception, and more.

An innovative flexible building design will allow Food for People to change their building layout, expanding storage or service space as required addressing the needs of the current pandemic and wildfire crisis while looking forward.

To realize their goal Food for People is undertaking a capital campaign to raise $5 million. Thanks to the incredible support of our donors and community partners they have already raised nearly 3 million. Lead donors to the campaign include the Smullin Foundation, St. Joseph Health, the Rose Perinin Foundation, the Humboldt Area Foundation, Humboldt Health Foundation, Redwood Capital Bank Food for People's Board of Directors, and generous community leaders.

Food for People is undertaking this project now because it is needed to ensure the health of our community. Our area struggles with high cost of living, housing shortage, and low wages making food security a struggle for many community members. Food for People already serves 10% of Humboldt County while 21% of County’s population lives in poverty according to census data. Food for People would need to double operations to meet this need. Seniors are the largest growing demographic in need of food assistance. Healthy, affordable foods are hard to access in rural areas, where there are few, if any, places that provide it. Food for People is the designated food relief organization during a natural disaster, emergency, or pandemic for all of Humboldt County. The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the need for food assistance in our community, and the economic impacts will be felt for some time to come. Food for People is on the front line in times of crisis, they need a facility that will have the space to be effective and efficient during community disasters and will also allow them to serve the community into the future. Food for People is embarking on this project now because action is needed to continue to address food security in our community.
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Iridian Casarez

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Iridian Casarez is a staff writer at the North Coast Journal.

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