Farm Credit grant helps Central Valley Food Bank provide more fresh produce
Central Valley Food Bank moved into a new 145,000 square foot facility in Fresno last summer that nearly tripled their space and allowed the 27-year-old non-profit to greatly expand its efforts to feed the hungry from Madera to Bakersfield.
But as Kym Dildine, the food bank’s chief administrative officer, pointed out, a lot of work needed to be done to convert a former beer distributorship into a warehouse to store and sort perishable food.
Now, however, the food bank is in the final stages of upgrading 20,000 square feet of cold storage and adding 5,000 square feet of freezers, thanks in part to a $100,000 grant from Farm Credit associations that helped purchase and renovate the facility, Dildine said.
“For the first time, we’ve been able to maintain the quality and quantity of fresh produce donations from area farmers throughout the winter. Our clients want to integrate fresh fruit and vegetables into their diet all year round to help control diet-related health issues such as high cholesterol and diabetes,” she said.
Dildine added that the new freezer capacity will be especially helpful as the organization – until recently called Community Food Bank – now stores fresh and frozen foods in eight refrigerator trucks in the food bank’s parking lot.
“Farm Credit is one of our largest annual donors and is an integral part of our efforts to fight hunger. We are so grateful for our partnership with them,” Dildine said.
Three members of the Farm Credit system serving the Central Valley – Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit and Farm Credit West – along with their lending partner CoBank – have contributed nearly $170,000 to the food bank since 2015, said Stephanie Graham, Fresno Madera Farm Credit’s chief administrative officer.
“It’s a tragedy that in the breadbasket of America – the Central Valley – one in four people struggle with hunger on a daily basis,” Graham said. “Fresno Madera Farm Credit and our colleagues were proud to have helped the food bank expand its facilities so it can serve even more needy families in our region.”
Central Valley Food Bank was formed in 1992 to serve people in Fresno and over the years has expanded to serve all of Fresno County, then added Madera, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties. Before moving into the new facility last year, Dildine said the food bank had to turn away food and volunteers because of the previous 50,000-square-foot warehouse was so cramped. Now, 10-15 volunteers can work safely in the space every day.
Farm Credit West is a lending institution of the Farm Credit System with California branch offices in Bakersfield, Dinuba, Hanford, Imperial, Paso Robles, Santa Maria, Templeton, Tulare, Ventura, Woodland and Yuba City and Arizona branch offices in Tempe, Safford, and Yuma. The corporate headquarters is located in Rocklin, California. The Farm Credit System is a nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations created by Congress in 1916. The System provides loans, leases, and related services to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, agribusinesses and agricultural and rural utility cooperatives nationwide.