The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Yolo County Food Bank at Davis Center helps chip away at food insecurity

Yolo+County+Food+Bank+volunteer+Ainsely+Dahl+places+milk+into+the+back+of+a+clients+truck+%28Amelia+Biscardi%2Fabiscardi.express%40gmail.com%29
Yolo County Food Bank volunteer Ainsely Dahl places milk into the back of a client’s truck (Amelia Biscardi/[email protected])

A long line of cars overflows at about 11 a.m. onto both Celadon Street and Hutchison Drive waiting to enter the drive-thru food distribution at City College’s Davis Center on a recent Thursday. 

Hazel Critchfield, former student at City College and program manager for the Yolo County Food Bank, notes that because classes haven’t been held at the Davis Center since mid-March, the number of clients attending the food distribution dwindled for a while.

“When Sac City was in session, this site was serving over 100 people every week, and then actually when the pandemic hit and this campus closed, we had a really low turnout for a while,” Critchfield says. “In the past two months we’ve really bumped up our publicity, and I think also the need has increased. So those two factors have made the numbers rise again, back into the hundreds now, which was our hope all along because we have plenty of food. That’s never the issue.” 

The Davis Center began partnering with the Yolo County Food Bank to distribute groceries in June 2019. Davis Center Dean Andrea Gaytan notes that the center and food bank have continued to work throughout the pandemic to assist the community. 

“Yolo Food Bank has really stepped up, and with volunteers they have really been able to continue the food distribution,” Gaytan says of the new Thursday drive-thru model. “It’s nice to know that our students are still able to access it.”

With green crates full of milk containers, a tower of boxes filled with Hostess Donuts and boxes of celery and kale, the volunteers distribute the food as equally as possible into clear plastic bags.

Instead of the white folding tables lined with food that used to allow clients to choose the items they wanted, the food is now bagged in advance and placed into the clients’ vehicles.

Gaytan believes that continuing food distribution allows the community to consider the Davis Center as a facility that can provide resources for people in need. 

Critchfield adds that the transition was difficult for those who regularly pick up food with the additional safety policies now in place. In addition to wearing masks and gloves when managing food, volunteers are encouraged to stay home if they or anyone within their family is sick.

“The drive-thru process really changed the client experience at our distributions because, before COVID, when all the sites were walk-up, people actually got to choose individual pieces of fruit and exactly what type of milk they wanted,” Critchfield says. “That element of choice is now gone, which was really hard for a lot of people to adjust to at first. But I think now everybody is very used to this and appreciates the safety and efficiency.”

While most clients arrive at the food bank via car or truck, some can be seen traveling via bicycle. Cyclists are directed away from the line of cars and into the shade where, with some assistance from volunteers, they receive their bag of food.

Gaytan says that she is proud of the collaboration with the food bank.

“We’ve not had a single disruption to our Thursday food distribution,” Gaytan says. “We’ve been able to continue having a food distribution this whole time.”

Volunteer Jullianne Ballou places a bag of potatoes into a client’s vehicle.
(Amelia Biscardi/[email protected])
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As the distribution continues, four volunteers pull potatoes from large boxes and distribute them into plastic bags, removing any green potatoes or ones with white spots. Critchfield notes that most of the donations the food bank receives are from community members and organizations such as grocery stores.

Critchfield said that that Yolo Food Bank partners with dozens of local stores as well as farmers, taking food items that may be surplus items, have misprints on their tags or are getting close to their expiration date. The distribution at the Davis Center usually gets a lot of items from Trader Joes. These donations are transported by a Yolo Food Bank truck and driver on Thursdays,

“The food bank has received plenty of donations of food recently, so for us I think a major barrier is getting the word out,” Critchfield says. “’Cause you know I’m sure if everyone around here knew about this, we’d have 400 people. We just need to get the word out more.”

The Yolo Food Bank has been working to get the word out about the food distributions both through social media as well as using a text service called FreshText to find local distributions.

“Clients can text the keyword for the city they live in to a number and then they receive a text message the day before every food distribution,” Critchfield says. “So that’s a good way to keep people in Davis who are food insecure informed about all the different sites they can attend.”

Since the pandemic, Critchfield has noticed a substantial increase in the number of people visiting the food drive.

“I mean it’s just a little crazy how many new faces show up. It’s both sad and really hopeful at the same time,” Critchfield says. “I feel like there’s been a ton of need in California that was a little bit unnoticed, so [the pandemic] is creating more need and also bringing [it] into the light a little bit more.”

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