When Imperial Valley Food Bank moved its operations from the outskirts of El Centro with two disconnected warehouses falling apart at the seams, no loading docks, and minimal insulation from 120+ degree temperatures to a brand-new, centrally located 28,000 square-foot, up-to-date facility, it had no idea how much that improvement would become a necessity.
Like many food banks around the state, Imperial Valley Food Bank quickly pivoted its operations to serve at times double its average number of residents. With the new facility and Covid-19 pandemic challenges, IVFB not only switched to drive-thru distributions, including partnering with the local fairground to utilize its parking lot, but also was able to receive more food than it has ever before. In 2020, IVFB distributed a record 8,627,246 pounds of food to each corner of their rural, remote county.
Being a member of the California Association of Food Banks is an investment that has paid off in increasing benefits for our organization.
Sara Griffen, Executive Director
Serving the IVFB community, while smaller in population than some Food Banks service areas but spread out in great distance, provides a few challenges in itself. IVFB meets that challenge through a mixture of partnerships of local agencies to distribute commodities (Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, local churches) and its own mobile food pantry distributions to those areas not served by a partner agency.
As COVID-19 swept through the county, some of the agencies who took on the responsibility of distributing commodities closed their doors until a time still undetermined, stretching IVFB resources of a staff of 14 and a limited volunteer base even thinner. IVFB now distributes more food at more locations than it ever has in its 30 years.
As the pandemic continues, IVFB is looking toward the future as it celebrates its milestone 30 years in 2021.
Despite the challenges that come our way, we have found ways to serve the food needs of this community and we will continue in this pursuit as long as there is hunger for the people of Imperial Valley.
Executive Director Sara Griffen
“When I started this work 11 years ago,” said Sara, “we received no state aid of any kind as Food Banks did not have a seat at the table. Today, we have seen a shift in how food banks are valued, which has resulted in State infrastructure investments in our capacity and a steady stream of funding opportunities for food purchase, food access, and other critical investments due to the hard work of CAFB and their staff.”
Thank you, Imperial Valley Food Bank, for the incredible work that you do!
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All photos courtesy Imperial Valley Food Bank
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