City Council authorizes $1.5 million for food security, food bank

The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday voted to allocate $1.5 million to address food insecurity.

The amount represents two separate investments: $1 million for a grant program supported by the work of the Food Justice Task Force; and $500,000 for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services to bolster their ongoing food distribution programming.

The money comes from the federal COVID relief dollars contained in the American Rescue Plan.

“This is a down payment for the ongoing work that the city and the community will be doing together in this space,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. “We know the need is great right now, and I am looking forward to the partnerships that will blossom from this effort.”

Steinberg and Councilmember Mai Vang have led the work with the Food Justice Task Force.

Vang has hosted six community feedback sessions since January. These task force meetings primarily developed the high level goals for how to spend the $1 million in funding. These goals include serving high-need populations with proposals that will increase access points to healthy food and/or invest in our local food system economy.

Individuals and organizations interested in addressing food insecurity can begin applying for Food Justice Task Force grants later this summer. Once the funding is released, the task force will begin examining a host of city policies related to food insecurity, including community gardening, updating the urban agriculture ordinance, land availability, and support for food distribution.

“We’re really excited to release the (funding) later this summer and really begin to get these dollars to our communities on the ground to address food insecurity,” Vang said.

Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services has estimated that its $500,000 American Rescue Plan allocation will enable them to purchase approximately 371,900 pounds of food, which equates to approximately 310,000 meals, according to Feeding America standards.

SFBFS and its partner network of more than 150 smaller food banks, local shelters, and community-based organizations will be able to distribute this food within the city.

The food bank reports that demand has increased significantly since the pandemic and has remained high. In April 2022, SFBFS and its partner network served over 213,570 individuals, which marks a 42 percent increase from pre-pandemic numbers.

“We are grateful for City’s partnership and continued support,” said Blake Young, president and CEO of the Sacramento Food Bank. “The funding has been instrumental in getting us through the pandemic and this additional support comes at a time where we are seeing demand levels continue to rise as inflation adds another layer of challenge.”

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