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20 Years – and Counting – of Fighting Hunger in California

March 25, 2016

How well do you remember the mid-1990s? Americans couldn’t get enough of watching “Friends.” People across the country were doing the Macarena. It was President Bill Clinton’s first term in the White House.

Here in California, CAFB got its start in 1995, when several visionary food bank leaders saw the potential of joining forces and advocating with a unified voice to improve public policies related to hunger.

Twenty years later, the California Association of Food Banks celebrates growing from a one-person office to a staff of 25, dedicated to building a well-nourished California. We now represent 43 food banks serving 47 counties, and our biannual conference attracts nearly 300 food bank staffers and anti-hunger advocates from around the state and beyond.

Visit our 20 Year Timeline and learn more about CAFB’s history!

As we did at the beginning, we continue to focus on supporting our network of food banks with food, funds and training opportunities. At its 10-year mark, our Farm to Family program is distributing over 150 million pounds of fresh produce annually to member food banks, and we are expanding our Produce Education Program that links Farm to Family fresh fruits and vegetables with nutrition lessons.

Through our leadership role in the Alliance to Transform CalFresh, we’ve helped increase CalFresh (food stamp) participation by 13%, and our CalFresh Outreach program assists thousands of households with signing up for benefits.

Visit Our 20 Year Timeline

Our food bank members were our strongest asset when we started 20 years ago, and they remain our strongest asset today. In fact, many of our founding members are still leaders in the fight against hunger and actively involved in supporting CAFB, including Bruce Rankin of Westside Food Bank, Willy Elliott-McCrea of Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County, Paul Ash of SF-Marin Food Bank, and Michael Flood of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Their leadership has been paramount to our shared successes.

We are so grateful for our founders, and for everyone who has helped make the work of CAFB possible over the past 20 years – the 43 food banks; their 6,000 charitable agency partners; our anti-hunger allies and funders; and our board members past and present. Every single one of them has helped make a difference in the lives of struggling Californians.

We’ve accomplished so much, yet there’s so much more to be done in a state that has the nation’s highest poverty rate after adjusting for cost of living. In California, one in seven faces food insecurity, and one in four children may go to bed hungry each night.

A decade from now, who can say which television shows will captivate us and who will occupy the Oval Office? What we do know is that CAFB faces the coming years with renewed commitment. We will not stop fighting until all our neighbors receive the food they need to lead healthy, productive lives.

Soon we’ll be starting the next chapter in our association’s history, as we unveil our new strategic plan, along with a refined mission and vision, to guide us as we expand our efforts to build a well-nourished and hunger-free California.

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