FARM CREDIT GRANT HELPS CENTRAL CALIFORNIA FOOD BANK PROVIDE MORE FRESH PRODUCE

Central California Food Bank moved into a new 145,000 square foot facility in Fresno last summer that nearly tripled their space and allowed the 27-year-old non-profit to greatly expand its efforts to feed the hungry from Madera to Bakersfield.

But as Kym Dildine, the food bank’s chief administrative officer, pointed out, a lot of work needed to be done to convert a former beer distributorship into a warehouse to store and sort perishable food.

Central California Food Bank will be able to store produce like these boxes of melons for much longer once cold-storage upgrades, paid in part by grants from Farm Credit, are completed.

Now, however, the food bank is in the final stages of upgrading 20,000 square feet of cold storage and adding 5,000 square feet of freezers, thanks in part to a $100,000 grant from Farm Credit associations that helped purchase and renovate the facility, Dildine said.

“For the first time, we’ve been able to maintain the quality and quantity of fresh produce donations from area farmers throughout the winter. Our clients want to integrate fresh fruit and vegetables into their diet all year round to help control diet-related health issues such as high cholesterol and diabetes,” she said.

Dildine added that the new freezer capacity will be especially helpful as the organization – until recently called Community Food Bank – now stores fresh and frozen foods in eight refrigerator trucks in the food bank’s parking lot.

“Farm Credit is one of our largest annual donors and is an integral part of our efforts to fight hunger. We are so grateful for our partnership with them,” Dildine said.

Three members of the Farm Credit system serving the Central Valley – Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Farm Credit West and Golden State Farm Credit – along with their lending partner CoBank – have contributed nearly $170,000 to the food bank since 2015, said Stephanie Graham, Fresno Madera Farm Credit’s chief administrative officer.

“It’s a tragedy that in the breadbasket of America – the Central Valley – one in four people struggle with hunger on a daily basis,” Graham said. “Fresno Madera Farm Credit and our colleagues were proud to have helped the food bank expand its facilities so it can serve even more needy families in our region.”

Central California Food Bank was formed in 1992 to serve people in Fresno and over the years has expanded to serve all of Fresno County, then added Madera, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties. Before moving into the new facility last year, Dildine said the food bank had to turn away food and volunteers because of the previous 50,000-square-foot warehouse was so cramped. Now, 10-15 volunteers can work safely in the space every day.

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 About Farm Credit: CoBank, Farm Credit West, Fresno-Madera Farm Credit and Golden State Farm Credit are cooperatively owned lending institutions providing agriculture and rural communities with a dependable source of credit. For more than 100 years, the Farm Credit System has specialized in financing farmers, ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives, rural utilities and agribusinesses. Farm Credit offers a broad range of loan products and financial services, including long-term real estate loans, operating lines of credit, equipment and facility loans, cash management and appraisal and leasing services…everything a “growing” business needs. For more information, visit www.farmcreditalliance.com

About Central California Food Bank: Central California Food Bank is the region’s largest community-based, non-profit agency dedicated solely to ending hunger in the Central Valley. It has experienced tremendous growth since its beginning in 1992, and now serves at the center of a vast network of more than 200 non-profit agencies, including schools, churches, community kitchens and more, throughout Fresno, Madera, Kings, Kern and Tulare counties. It also operates several food distribution and outreach programs, which combined, distribute more than 40 million pounds of food to families in need each year and serves more than 280,000 people monthly – of whom 100,000 are children. For more information about what Central Valley Food Bank is doing to fight hunger, visit ccfoodbank.org