July 29, 2021 update:
We have distributed more than 3.3 million pounds of USDA farmers to families boxes from July 2020 to May 2021. The USDA program has ended and we are shifting to alternative sources of food for our programs.
FIFS is continually growing and evolving to meet the needs of the food insecure in Solano County. We now have a food rescue program, the FIFS Park-It Market program (video shown), a distribution hub and neighborhood free food pantries.
Thank you for all your support!
Food is Free Solano, in coordination with WAHEO Inc. is raising funds to continue serving our community.
Since June 27th we have distributed over 1,187,034 lbs of food to Solano County. We have provided direct aid to several families escaping domestic violence and families in need of emergency food.
Due to the generosity of our community, in September we were able to secure a location at the Solano County Fairgrounds with refrigeration, storage, and access to a forklift crew to help unload trucks of food.
From June-October, Food is Free Solano participated in the USDA Farmers to Families program, distributing large boxes of food multiple times a week to our community. The latest round of funding for the Farmers to Families program is less than 1/3 the amount of the previous rounds. There is only one vendor for all of the state of California. Food is Free Solano has been unable to contact the company and get any trucks scheduled for our program. (Not for lack of trying.)
This change in funding comes just as the holidays begin. We have been looking for alternative sources of food for families that reach out to us.
Food insecurity is growing exponentially in our communities. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more and more families are struggling to meet their basic needs.
We are working with food rescue organizations that can provide food. One organization that we receive food, Hunger at Home, is in San Jose. They often have great food items by the pallet, but have short notice about availability. To get the food to our communities, we need a truck.
We are raising funds that will be allocated for truck rentals and the eventual purchase of a refrigerated box truck or van for food rescue and recovery.
Food is Free Solano is on the way to becoming a sustainable organization that can operate our programs, source food, and distribute it to existing regional organizations that feed our communities.
Thank you for any assistance. We could not do this without our community.
(Photo is from a Drive and Thrive event hosted by FIFS with many local organizations)
Here is a little more information about Food is Free Solano and the programs we are creating.
Food is Free Solano is a neighborhood based free food stand program that sources and distributes food to organizations within Solano County and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Our programs include the Food is Free Solano Stands which are farmstand style stands that offer fresh produce, pantry items, books, hygiene supplies and more to their local neighborhoods. The stands are watched over by a caretaker and located in a safe stopping location. They become self sustaining with their neighbors providing extra items to share amongst the neighborhood.
Project Snack Pack, which is funded by a grant from The Solano Community Foundation supplemented food for families in Benicia over the summer of 2020 until the school lunch program resumed Volunteers assembled the snack packs and distributed them to centralized FIFS stands. The program was a great success.
Drive and Thrive Events were drive through food and resource distributions that we partnered with local groups such as Another Chapter, The Reyes Foundation, and more.
We hosted Friday Night Fill Up drive through food distributions for the month of October. These distributions would hand out over 500 boxes of food each day.
The Food is Free Solano Park-It Market is a mobile FIFS stand that will be stocked with fresh produce and pantry items, then driven to a site hosted by a neighborhood organization. The group will then offer the produce/pantry items to their neighbors. The produce is sourced from FIFS's participation in the USDA Farmers to Families program. The Park-It Market has had several successful events and recently got a bright new coat of paint!
Because of the large scale of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program, FIFS is also distributing food to regional organizations. The companies that participate in the F2F program offer half to full truck loads. Most companies offer full truck loads. These can often only be delivered to one location. One truck can hold up to 22 pallets of food. That can equal 1600 20 lb boxes of produce.
We have built relationships with a diverse assortment of non-profits, community groups, neighborhood associations, and private citizens who work to feed their communities. Some groups offer food to the unhoused, some cook and distribute meals, some deliver food boxes to disabled or housebound people.
This diversity and reach is a great benefit because we can find organizations to accept large quantities of food on very short notice, ensuring that no food goes to waste.
You can find out more about us at FoodisFreeSolano.org or Facebook.com/foodisfreesolano
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