Why We Advocate

Your local food bank is one of few in the nation that advocates for policies that protect our neighbors in need. Here's why -- and how -- we do it. (Hint: we need you!)

The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world, with more than enough food for everyone. Then why do millions of children, seniors and working families worry about their next meal? Why does the Alameda County Community Food Bank provide food to 49,000 people each week?

The simplest reason is poverty -- and how hard it often is to climb out of it.

In the Bay Area, even two full-time jobs can be less than you need to make ends meet. Take Evangeline and Sean. They’re both working full-time, living modestly in a one-bedroom apartment with their two young children. They’ve applied for CalFresh benefits (aka food stamps), but sometimes, just an hour of overtime will mean their income is too high to qualify.

They have to pay the rent. They have to keep their car in working order to get to their jobs. By then, their paychecks are gone. And yet, their children still need to eat. So they visit a food pantry in their neighborhood in Alameda.

Evangeline is taking night classes, hoping to move up in her workplace and no longer rely on the food bank – something she couldn’t do if she had to worry about feeding her kids.

Food banks are performing triage – helping people meet immediate nutritional needs. Government programs such as CalFresh (more commonly known as food stamps), WIC and school meals support working families, lessen poverty, and relieve pressure on food banks like ours facing unprecedented demand.

During the long and deep recession, with millions still unemployed or underemployed, food banks have grown tremendously. Our Emergency Food Helpline call volume has grown 145% since the start of the recession in 2007.

Yet the same forces that have so impacted our clients have also put our nutrition and safety-net programs under attack.

Food banks and their donors and volunteers are often expected to fill the gap, while leaving an uncertain future for the programs meeting people’s most basic needs and helping them lift themselves out of poverty. Budgets balanced on the backs of working families, seniors and children will ensure that our communities struggle to thrive and grow.

We can do better.

That’s why the Alameda County Community Food Bank has taken the lead among food banks nationally in advocating for policies that will one day put us out of business.

Our Community Advocates Against Hunger are volunteers, member agencies and clients on the front lines of hunger in our community. They bring real stories of people struggling with hunger to elected officials with legislative visits and direct action. Last year, the legislature passed and Gov. Brown signed every one of the bills we supported to stregthen our nutrition safety net.

Access to healthy food is a basic human right – and all of us benefit when we work together for viable solutions.

Yet vital programs are under attack. Right now, the House version of the Farm Bill -- which would cut $90 a month from 500,000 households' emergency food budget, kick 3 million people off nutrition assistance entirely, and take free lunches away from 300,000 kids from low-income families.

We'll provide the tools and resources. You provide the passion. Learn more about our advocacy work and join our team of advocates with updates on our Facebook page or at accfb.org.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Timothy Swenson July 12, 2012 at 05:06 AM
The byline says that ACCFB is "Working to alleviate hunger & address its root causes." The article points out a root cause is poverty. There really was not much in the article on what ACCFB is doing to prevent poverty. Can that be discussed in a future post?
Summer Hemphill July 12, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Last season when you brought five cans of food to a Wednesday Oakland A's game you were given a ticket voucher which could be mailed in for a ticket to a future game. While the vouchers were only good for cheap seats to games during the week it was a great incentive & my family donated hundreds of cans of food over the last several seasons. This year instead of the vouchers you receive a two tickets for the price of one ticket which can be exchanged at the ticket window on game day subject to availabilty. Whereas last season donating 20 cans of food would get you 4 tickets at no additional cost,this season the cheapest tickets at two for one are $24.00 each. So last season four of us could attend a future game for free & this season it would cost me $48.00 ! So much for the incentive to lug can goods to the Coliseum & up the ramp to the Food Bank kiosk. I only pay $2.00 apiece for the tickets to the Wednesday games now,so needless to say I'm sure most fans won't even bother with it this season. I certainly won't as you can buy a ticket for as little as $12.00 & sit anywhere you want in the virtually empty Coliseum. I'm sure it wasn't the Food Banks idea to make this change,but the Oakland A's have certainly sabotaged your donation program at the Coliseum this year. I'll continue to donate to our local food pantry,but it's a shame that the Oakland A's support of your organization by providing free tickets to future games in a largely empty stadium ended without prior notice !
Alameda County Community Food Bank July 12, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Great question! Even in one of our longer blog posts, we didn't quite delve into this. But basically, a strong safety net is central to helping people move out of poverty, which is why we advocate to ensure that these programs are robust and that everyone who qualifies has the help they need. We also have specific policy recommendations, which you can read more about on Page 3 in our study of hunger in Alameda County. PDF link: http://accfb.org/pdfs/2010HungerStudy_Final.pdf
Alameda County Community Food Bank July 12, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Hi Summer – thanks for your feedback about the A’s promotion. You are correct, it’s a program that the A’s do for us, but we’re happy to pass along your comments. We can’t express enough how much we really appreciate all your support and we’re grateful for anything our community partners do to help raise awareness, funds and food. You’re clearly passionate about our cause and we send our sincere thanks to you and your family for all you’ve done and continue to do!


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