Ending hunger in California
California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) is a membership organization of 41 food banks from throughout the state with a shared mission to build a well-nourished California and a firm commitment to providing cutting-edge leadership in the anti-hunger community.
Our major programs include Farm to Family, which works with growers and packers to provide fresh produce to food banks; statewide programs for food stamp outreach and enrollment; robust state and federal advocacy efforts; produce education; and member services that offer assistance with special projects as well as technical support.
CAFB is governed by a Board of Directors elected from among its membership. Our Board Members come from food banks throughout the state, representing the broad diversity of our membership.
CAFB began in 1995 with a single staff member devoted to anti-hunger advocacy. CAFB has since grown into a sophisticated organization with over 20 full-time employees.
CAFB's programs reduce the prevalence and consequences of food insecurity in California.
Over the past year, CAFB has worked with its members and partners to:
Distribute 164 million pounds of fresh produce to those in need;
Secure over $7.25 million for our member food banks;
Provide CalFresh (food stamp) application assistance to 26,000 households; and,
Successfully advocate for major changes in CalFresh (food stamp) operations that will boost participation for years to come.
Our vision is a well-nourished and hunger-free California, where all people have enough food to lead a healthy life.
The mission of the California Association of Food Banks is to end hunger in California.
FARM TO FAMILY:
Directly distributing healthier food to people in need: Fresh fruits and vegetables are the fastest growing area of food bank distribution. This has been made possible with the implementation of CAFB’s Farm to Family Program. In 2011, Farm to Family distributed more than 120 million pounds of fresh produce. This produce consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables that CAFB acquires from the state’s growers and packers at no or very low cost. The increased availability of produce has allowed food banks to provide healthier foods to their clients and has put California on the cutting edge of healthy food banking.
Assisting with the application process for CalFresh (formerly the Food Stamp Program) to increase the affordability of healthier foods: CalFresh benefits help stretch a family’s dollars so they can afford the higher costs of fresh, nutritious food. But California consistently has one of the lowest participation rates in the country, and is currently at the bottom. CAFB offers program support and match funding for outreach activities to member food banks and other non-profits. This year, the Association partnered with 50 organizations to increase participation among eligible, low-income Californians. CAFB has also played an important leadership role in strengthening the statewide capacity for outreach by developing a statewide hotline, an outreach guide and website, a pre-screening and application tool and other outreach materials. CAFB provides training and support for peer-to-peer travel and collaboration. More information about these services are available at www.mycalfresh.org and www.misalimentos.org.
POLICY & ADVOCACY:
Advocating for policies that increase low-income people’s access to healthy food: California’s food banks were among the first in the nation to include policy and advocacy work as a core of their anti-hunger efforts. Now, most CAFB member agencies advocate at the federal, state, and local levels to improve anti-hunger and nutrition programs, especially for CalFresh (formerly food stamps) and emergency food. Several participate, and even lead, local nutrition policy coalitions. The most recent additions to the expanding advocacy list are the federal and state budget processes, which affect funding for health and human services programs vital to many low-income Californians. CAFB assists our partners in efforts to strengthen this work by providing venues to communicate with policy makers and offering leadership in strategy and message development.
Our greatest strength remains our membership of over 40 local food banks. These food banks serve communities across California, including the urban and suburban population centers in the Bay Area, Southern California, and Central Valley, as well as the more rural and remote areas. Over the past three years, CAFB has secured millions of dollars to support our members in their efforts to increase produce distribution, enhance food stamp outreach and nutrition education and to improve the overall capacity of food banks in rural communities. CAFB facilitates the sharing of best practices among food banks through regional meetings, newsletters and conferences to help our members become more effective in their work.