After a busy holiday season, the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank is off and running again for the new year in 2024. We continue to see a great need in our community, and it’s wonderful to see all our food partners and volunteers helping their neighbors in need.
Your local food bank has seen a huge surge in recent years. The need exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people lost their jobs, were unable to find food or struggled with bills. While the numbers have come down somewhat since COVID eased, the need remains high. For example, pre-COVID, about 45 families used the food bank a day. The average number for 2023 was 81.
According to records kept by the OVFO Food Bank, 36,969 people used the pantry in 2023. That includes 15,380 families, 1,899 new members and 4,433 senior citizens. In comparison, 30,570 used the food bank in 2022, with 13,564 families, and 3,841 seniors, so you can see the increase in the past year.
“We are very cognizant of that. All three of us in the office have kids and we've seen our own home bills go up,” says Andrea Scollay, director of the food bank.
It’s not just our neighborhood. According to a study by Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks nationwide, 46 million people – one in seven Americans – rely on food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families.
There are a number of reasons people use the food bank. It can be a lost job, a medical issue that prevents them from working, an unexpected bill that’s wiped out their budget, soaring food and utility costs, or they’re senior citizens on a fixed income who can no longer keep up with the high prices of everything.
“We had a huge surge where we tripled our numbers for COVID almost within like a month. It was crazy what our numbers were. It rose pretty high for a while and came back down, especially when all the stimulus money came,” Scollay says, however, that the food bank hasn’t hit the lower pre-COVID numbers again.
The Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank is a friendly, welcoming place to help out if you’re struggling. You can get food supplies twice a month. The food bags include proteins such as meat and chicken; dairy like eggs, milk, and cheese; dry goods such as cereal, pasta and breads, fruit and vegetables.
The food bank operates as a drive-through, with some of their more than 100 volunteers greeting you with a friendly smile, eager to help.
A lot of community members volunteer their time at the food bank, from local church members to community organizations like rotary clubs, businesses doing community service, retired workers and senior citizens and drop-ins who just want to volunteer in their community.
“We want to be a nice place to come where people can have a positive experience,” Scollay says.
There are many ways you can help besides volunteering. The food bank accepts money donations along with much-needed food items. Right now, the most urgent need is for cereal, small jars of peanut butter and pasta sauce. Donation days are Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays 4 p.m.-6 p.m. You can also drop off non-perishable food items in the big blue donation bin out front at our location at 6483 Main Avenue in Orangevale.
The Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank is open four days a week for residents of Orangevale, Fair Oaks, Folsom and Citrus Heights. It’s run by 20 to 30 volunteers a day who organize the food, pack bags and distribute to clients. Hours of operation are Monday and Wednesday, 11 a.m.-1 pm, Tuesday and Friday 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., and special evening hours on Wednesday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
By Judy Farah