Making Food Banks Healthier

The Sacramento Food Bank moves towards distributing healthier produce
Staff Writer

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

The Sacramento Food Bank is changing its reputation to one that offers more locally-sourced and organic foods to its regular patrons.

Five years ago, the Sacramento Food Bank decided to cut ties with its past as a standard food distribution center that handed out processed foods and bagged sweets to its recipients. CEO Blake Young realized with shock one day that this organization, which was intended to feed disadvantaged people, was actually putting them at a greater disadvantage by providing them with unhealthy foods.

Young decided to transform how the food bank operated, seeing Sacramento’s location in the center of agriculture-rich California as a key advantage.  Young and his staff partnered with local farmers to dramatically increase the amount of fresh produce in their patrons’ diets.

As a way to address the food desert crisis that is prevalent throughout California, the Sacramento Food Bank also moved distribution sites to around two dozen neighborhood schools and churches.

Nutrition activists like Michael Pollan applaud movements towards healthier food banks, as he laments that America’s food banks “have been giving out the worst kind of food…that contribute to obesity and chronic disease” for too long.

Since the program’s makeover, the number of families served has grown from 8,000 to nearly 20,000. Making healthy, organic food accessible to America’s most disadvantaged people is an important step towards reducing national health risks and inequality. 

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