Yuba-Sutter Food Bank

Yuba-Sutter Food Bank team members Gregory Hill, left, Rafael Alvarez, Junior Moreno, Tasha Ayers and Jason Sanders sort food on Thursday in Yuba City.

The Yuba-Sutter Food Bank is seeing an uptick in locals experiencing food insecurity, but has so far been able to meet that demand.

“The pandemic has exasperated the challenges with food insecurity,” said Michelle Downing, Yuba-Sutter Food Bank’s CEO. “We have seen an increased need for the services of the food bank.”

She said, when the organization went to a staff-based business model versus a volunteer-based business model, it helped keep the food flowing to the people who need it.

“We went to a staff model when I became CEO in April,” she said. “Our team consists of six full-time employees, three warehouse associates from the Joshua House, and two from the Sutter County One-Stop Work Experience Program.”

Downing said they’ve helped 600 more people with food insecurity in October versus September and preliminary numbers for November indicate that number will further increase.

“Our monthly food distribution numbers show we are serving more people,” she said. “Our partner agencies’ monthly reports also show an increase in the number of people they serve as well.”

Bob Harlan, Yuba-Sutter-Colusa United Way’s executive director, said they’re coordinating efforts to help feed and provide assistance to the nonprofits that serve those with the most needs.

“Yuba-Sutter-Colusa United Way administers the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program, was the agency providing bookkeeping and equal decision-making with four other nonprofits for the Yuba-Sutter COVID-19 Relief Task Force,” he said.

The 14th annual Yuba-Sutter-Colusa Turkey Drive kicked off this month with a goal of collecting more than 600 turkeys and hams and $12,000 in cash to serve up to 5,000 local residents in need, according to a news release from the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa United Way.

All proceeds go to 17 local organizations providing holiday dinners and food baskets, as well as local food closets providing food to those in need during the holidays.

“We have had our hands very full in providing major assistance to nonprofit agencies and the people they serve,” he said.

A constant flurry of activity takes place at the Yuba-Sutter Food Bank with staffers sorting food into smaller portions and others using forklifts and other equipment to move and store large volumes of food on pallets and boxes.

“Three Rotary Clubs came on Friday to present us with a check that helped get our new wall case freezer up and running,” Downing said. 

In a Thursday Yuba-Sutter Food Bank Facebook post, a group of mask-clad volunteers from Beale Air Force Base were in the food bank warehouse helping to sort food ahead of the Thanksgiving rush.

“Thanks to our volunteers, we distribute thousands of pounds of food to people in need throughout Yuba and Sutter counties,” she said. “Our service population includes working low-income families, low-income military families, income fixed seniors, the homeless and children living in poverty.”

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