In 1992 a small group of men and women who were dedicated to seeing that hungry people received the food they needed formed the Food Opportunities Organization and Distribution Inc. dba Community Food Bank. Like most non-profits, they started with much passion and energy, but very limited resources.
Community Food Bank started with a temporary facility, the Home and Garden Building within the Fresno Fairgrounds, where they were allowed to store food as they were getting started. But with the Fair fast approaching, Community Food Bank moved to its first home, a small warehouse in Calwa that had previously been the home of a mattress manufacturer. Ironically, this location is just a block away from the current location on Central Ave. Community Food Bank outgrew that location in a couple of years and moved to a storefront on the Fulton Mall, which was home for the next five years.
It was during those five years on the Fulton Mall that Community Food Bank joined America’s Second Harvest, now known as Feeding America, began serving Madera and Kings Counties, and more importantly, began collecting and distributing fresh produce. During these years Community Food Bank also faced its first disaster relief effort, the “Freeze of 1999”. Efforts grew from distributing just under 2 million pounds of food per year to almost 6 million pounds per year.
By 2002 Community Food Bank had outgrown the facilities on the Fulton Mall and moved operations to Thorne Avenue. During the years at Thorne Avenue Community Food Bank continued to distribute food through an increasing number of agencies, and began adding direct distributions to services.
Through these years a strong partnership with the Fresno County Farm Bureau grew, which provided their President to serve on our Board of Directors. While the Farm Bureau President no longer serves on the Board, a strong partnership has remained.
In 2007 Community Food Bank moved to its current location on Central Avenue, and has seen the most dramatic increase in the amount of food being distributed. In 2007, Community Food Bank distributed just under 8 million pounds of food per year to 40 million pounds of food distributed in fiscal year 2017. As of July 1, 2014, Community Food Bank began serving Tulare County as well.
Since 2007, Community Food Bank has added many new services for the families served, including farmers market style distributions through mobile pantries and neighborhood markets, a nutrition on wheels program where recipes and teaching demonstrations are provided to teach people how to prepare healthy food, using a custom food truck. Ten local schools also have a BackPack program, whereby elementary school children are given a backpack with enough healthy food to serve their family for the weekend.
These programs, along with the more than 200 partner agencies, have enabled Community Food Bank to distribute 40 million pounds of food. They have also helped dramatically increase the amount of fresh produce distributed. Because of the generosity of the local farming community over half of the product served is in fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the farm. This is critically important due to the ongoing challenges of diabetes and childhood obesity that are faced by many of the families served in the Central Valley.
On behalf of the families, children and seniors served every day, thank you for your support.