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#MemberMonday: Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County

June 27, 2022

Sprawling from deserts to mountains, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the nation — and Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County (CAPSBC) has been serving the county’s residents for more than 55 years. The food bank is one of CAPSBC’s three main programs; alongside their Family Development and their Energy, Education & Environmental Services programs, addressing food insecurity is part of CAPSBC’s vision of eliminating the effects of poverty in San Bernardino County.

CAPSBC Food Bank Programs

There are quite a few ways in which the CAPSBC food bank is addressing food insecurity, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program, community pantry program, soup kitchen/congregate feeding agencies, their senior choice program, campus cupboard program, mobile food pantry program, and diaper bank.

Emergency Food Assistance Program

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodities to a network of food pantries for distribution to eligible individuals and households within their service area. Clients are eligible to receive USDA commodities one time each month without payment or any restriction.

Community Pantry Program

The Community Pantry Program encompasses any food item or product donated in-kind to the food bank program with the intent of supporting the needs of the community. Nonprofit organizations work with the food bank to operate a community food distribution. All products are provided to nonprofit organizations and to the community for free.

Soup Kitchens / Congregate Feeding

Congregate feeding sites provide prepared meals in a group setting. This type of meal service allows people to eat a nutritious meal while enjoying the companionship of friends and other members of the community. The congregate feeding program creates or supports existing soup kitchens throughout San Bernardino County by providing a monthly menu of foods.

Senior Choice Program

Many older adults face barriers related to mobility, technology, income, and social stigma that may prohibit them from seeking or receiving help. The Senior Choice Program is designed to circumvent such barriers by working directly with senior centers or low-income senior housing complexes to host healthy food distributions. Foods provided through the program adhere to the CAPSBC Healthy Food Banking and Wellness Policy.

Campus Cupboard Program

Food insecurity can pose a significant barrier to student success, enrollment, and retention. The Campus Cupboard Program works to alleviate the barriers and challenges associated with food insecurity and hunger, to encourage college and university students to remain in school and achieve their educational goals. CAPSBC provides support and resources for campus food pantries serving students in the form of food, hygiene products, and more.

Mobile Pantry Program

Introduced in August 2021, the Mobile Pantry Program directly serves clients in areas of high need in an effort to supplement other hunger-relief agencies in that area. Truckloads of food are distributed to clients in farmers’ market-style distribution settings. Food becomes more accessible in underserved communities where people with limited financial resources may not be able to access food through traditional grocery stores or food pantries.

Having mobile units in such a geographically diverse county is important because the mobile units help extend the organization’s capacity to close gaps in service locations.

Since September 2021, the Mobile Food Pantry Program increased the capacity of CAPSBC’s Food Bank by introducing 17 new locations within its service gaps in San Bernardino County. The mobile food pantry aims to reduce the stigma associated with receiving food aid by emulating a farmer’s market stand, thus creating a neutral, pleasant, and welcoming environment for recipients. Another beneficial aspect of the program is the malleability of its structure which allows flexibility and ease of introduction of new services versus brick-and-mortar service providers.
Alejandro Gamboa Montes, Mobile Food Pantry Program Coordinator

Since its inception, the Mobile Pantry Program has assisted 29,268 individuals with over 235,546 pounds of food, 53,374 pounds of assorted toiletries, and 12,800 pounds of children’s diapers and feminine hygiene products! Current locations include Adelanto, Barstow, Crestline, Colton, Highland, Montclair (2), Morongo Valley, Muscoy, Needles, Running Springs, Trona, Twentynine Palms, Yucaipa, and Yucca Valley.

Diaper Bank Program

The CAPSBC Food Bank is a designated Diaper Bank in the State of California. Diapers are provided to distribution sites throughout San Bernardino County. Through partner agencies, monthly supplies of diapers are provided to support families with little ones.

Our Diaper Bank Program supports low-income families throughout San Bernardino County impacting families which are most economically vulnerable. Through our partners, we have distributed 55,000 diapers, affecting nearly 740 children so far this year. It is our hope this service will promote the health and wellbeing of children served and alleviate the financial burden on families.
Margie Yumul, Diaper Bank Program Coordinator

The Importance of Partnerships

Like most food banks, CAPSBC’s Food Bank has faced a prolonged increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With such a large county and population to serve, meeting this demand wouldn’t be possible without financial and logistical assistance. CAPSBC Food Bank put their $470,000 from the 2021/2022 EFAP Capacity grant to great use with the purchase of a semi-cab, refrigerated semi-trailer, industrial cooler, and warehouse inventory system.

Through the exceptional advocacy of the California Association of Food Banks and rare state budget surplus, CAPSBC Food Bank will receive $8.4 million dollars under the next upcoming EFAP Capacity Grant. This incredible level of funding can be used to further strengthen and expand the Food Bank’s infrastructure.
Patricia L. Nickols-Butler, CEO

This year, CAPSBC’s Food Bank Program has received a total of 2,515,494 lbs. at a value of $3,319,013 of USDA foods, 607,686 lbs. of purchased foods, and 2,525,680 lbs. of donated foods from various vendors including Sam’s Club, Stater Bros, Amazon, Home Chef, and Growers Fresh.

CAPSBC Food Bank currently partners with 127 USDA distribution sites, 96 Community Pantry Program sites, 25 Congregate Feeding Agencies/Soup Kitchens, 14 Senior Choice Nutritional programs, and 11 Campus Cupboard partners — totaling 273 programs — to alleviate hunger and food insecurity throughout San Bernardino County.

Meeting people where they are is essential to any successful social service program and we can accomplish this with programs like the Mobile Food Pantry. Fair, consistent state funding is needed for staffing and other operational costs, and without that funding, programs like these would not be accessible to our communities.
Evelyn Hedrick, Interim CAPSBC Food Bank Manager

It is these kinds of huge collaborative efforts that make it possible for our network of 41 member food banks to meet the need of Californians in their communities. We are so proud to have CAPSBC Food Bank as one of our member food banks, and we are amazed by all of the work that their staff does every day to fight hunger in San Bernardino County.

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