As communities continue to be hit by job losses and economic strain amid the COVID-19 crisis, local food banks become even more vital. The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation gave an unrestricted grant to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services to help it meet increased demand during these unprecedented times. We spoke with Melanie Flood, director of development and communications for the food bank, to learn more about how they’re supporting the Sacramento community amid the pandemic.

Image of tent and two workers at the Sacramento Food Bank
Workers set up tents for the Mega Drive-Through and Walk-Up food distribution to manage food pick up amid social distancing guidelines.

How has the current COVID-19 crisis affected your operations and clients?

Before the crisis, we had 215,000 food insecure people in Sacramento County, and we were feeding approximately 150,000 of them per month through our own direct distributions and through 220 partner agencies. As demand has exploded for food access in our region, the current need for services has exceeded the emergency food network we have spent years building. We are finding as job losses in various industries continue to occur, the need for food has grown exponentially. We are being approached by many who have never had to utilize a food program in their lifetime. Of our 220 partner agencies, 145 have temporarily closed, leaving us to serve these growing numbers of hungry people in our community with fewer resources. The current number of people we are now serving per month has more than doubled to 300,000.

What changes have you had to make as a result of the pandemic and mandatory social distancing?

We’ve replaced our Produce for All distributions with touchless Mega Drive-Through & Walk-Up Distributions for the foreseeable future. We’ve partnered with various agencies, one of which is Paratransit, to ensure our seniors continue to have access to food. We’ve accepted support from many businesses, large and small, who have gone all-in during this time of crisis to – not only provide funding for us to purchase food but to – help make sure that the emergency food system we have put in place is sustainable well beyond this crisis.

Food is put into a food bank client's truck at the drive through food distribution
A client receives food at a mega drive-through distribution. These are held twice a week at local schools and serve 6,000 individuals in the Sacramento area.

We’re incredibly grateful for the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation’s support, as your generosity has helped us to scale up our operations and also helped provide more food for our remaining 75 partner agencies that are committed to staying open during this pandemic.

What advice do you have for other nonprofits struggling with the same challenges?

Remain committed to your mission.

Leverage the existing relationships you have by reminding partners of the good work they know you are doing.

Don’t be deterred, and remember that we will get through this as a community.

What do you most urgently need in terms of support, and how can people help?

Our most urgent need is for donations to provide food for our community. We need people to help us meet this increased demand for food. As it stands now, we are finding our resources stretched and we urgently recognize the need for our community to come together to help feed our neighbors. For every $1 given to our organization, we can provide five meals for a family.

If you would like to help, consider donating to the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.