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Hello from the Other Side (or, a Food Banker Joins CAFB)

October 29, 2018


In my three-year tenure as the Food Resourcing Development Coordinator at Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), my interactions with California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) were limited. Mostly watching Wilken Louie, Associate Director of Food Resourcing & Allocation at ACCFB, schedule our inbound produce trucks, receiving those produce loads when I filled in as the backup warehouse receiver, and chatting with Steve Linkhart and Charisse Ross at the annual NorCal Operations meeting. I knew CAFB as our primary produce partner (and a huge reason ACCFB could proudly say that nearly 60% of their distribution consists of fresh produce), as well as a source for a few non-produce items.


Shifting now to the non-produce wing of CAFB’s Farm to Family program, I see how much potential there is in applying the F2F produce model to our food bank partners’ non-produce needs. Collective bargaining and wielding the full purchasing power of our network is both a massive selling point for our vendor partners and tremendous testimony to how working together as one can benefit all. In my short time here, we’ve had the opportunity to aim for tiered pricing, with stronger pricing determined by how many collective truckloads we secure, something that would not be a bargaining possibility for singular food banks, particularly the smaller ones. 

I have also worked on soliciting quotes for a few food banks assembling orders for different projects and requests. From the food banks’ perspective, it’s a useful opportunity to offload time-consuming price searching, and from my end, an invitation to hunt down the best deals possible from a pool of both established and new vendors. 


Joining CAFB in this role of Sales and Procurement Administrator, I feel blessed to come from a position in food sourcing at a member food bank. This background prepared me to best serve our partners’ needs, thanks to being familiar with food bank restrictions, timing, tendencies, and preferences. I am excited to get to know additional California food banks so that I can learn even more. Most of all, I’m eager to help bring us all a little closer, because we work better when we work together. 

I’d love to hear from our member food banks, whether by phone or email, about non-produce item needs, the crazy world of purchasing, or anything at all!  

Caroline Chow

Sales & Procurement Administrator


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