Special at the forefront
In an effort to further contribute to the health, prosperity, and improved quality of life for residents of Yolo County, Yolo Food Bank has announced new mission and vision statements to inspire the work of the organization and community engagement in this new year.
“The pandemic emergency has exposed how fragile food security has always been for so many vulnerable and underserved people in Yolo County,” said Michael Bisch, Executive Director of Yolo Food Bank. “In examining the underlying causes of this and the powerful lessons of the COVID-19 crisis that could influence the future of food access and nutrition in the county, it became clear that our previous mission was no longer descriptive of the service we provide, let alone the potential to impact and advance the entire local food system in the future.
Previously “Eliminating Hunger and Malnutrition in Yolo County,” Yolo Food Bank’s new mission is to “Sustainably increase food and nutrition security and help create an equitable and sustainable local environment.” food system by:
- Connecting individuals and families to healthy, high-quality foods and resources;
- Collaborate with community partners to deepen awareness and meet food needs; and
- Bring together key players in the community to assess progress and plan collective action. »
The actions contained in the mission statement are intended as Yolo Food Bank’s unique contribution to a renewed vision that Bisch has positioned as “the ideal reality that we are working to build”. The vision statement announces a Yolo County that will be “a thriving community where everyone has the resources they need to experience health, prosperity, and a high quality of life.”
Further explaining how the new mission will produce this vision, the organization has developed a “theory of change” documenting the strategic pathways leading to the overall results that Yolo Food Bank seeks to advance. The plan recognizes that Yolo Food Bank’s ambitious mission requires a mindset of empathy, fairness and a willingness to innovate, and that every aspect of the organization’s work must embrace this approach.
Yolo Food Bank’s new mission, vision and theory of change can be viewed in full at https://bit.ly/3H0Fb0w.
“The conditions that preceded the pandemic, as well as those that resulted from it, require food assistance programs to take a more sophisticated approach.” Bisch said. “Yolo Food Bank has spent much of the past year preparing to embrace this mission and vision by engaging in data collection and analysis to better understand the impact of the services we already provide and residents who benefit from it.
Additionally, we collaborated with other organizations and thought leaders to gain new knowledge and experience, sparking our own innovation.
“Eliminating food insecurity on our UC Davis campus continues to be a major area of concern and Yolo Food Bank’s strong partnership has been essential in this pursuit,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May. “The food assistance service that Yolo Food Bank provides at ASUCD The Pantry, Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center and Solano Park Pantry is essential to supporting the health and academic success of our students. Our partnership continues to evolve with an upcoming food distribution debuting on the UC Davis Campus Quad in a few weeks.
“The conversation about food security in Yolo County needs to move beyond a simple distribution of calories, to a conversation about the role of nutrition in holistically improving people’s lives, individual health in particular,” added Bisch. “Until plentiful, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food is always available to all residents of Yolo County, food equity will remain elusive.”
Robb Davis, public policy leader in community health and nutrition, former mayor of Davis, joined Yolo Food Bank last spring as the organization’s first-ever chief impact and innovation officer, adding a structure to these efforts. Also in 2021, Yolo Food Bank organized and hosted the first Food for Fairness Summit, joined plans for the new Yolo Food Hub initiative to better connect local farm workers to the very foods they help grow, contributed to Valley Vision’s “2021” Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan, and continued a so far unsuccessful attempt at a sustainably funded surplus edible food salvage program with local jurisdictions, in accordance with the requirements of Senate Bill 1383.
“As part of our 2021 Regional Action Plan, we look forward to working with Yolo Food Bank to increase the resilience of our local food system,” said Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt. “Our recent Food System Resilience Survey showed that self-reported food insecurity was higher here than the average for the United States as a whole, with disparities existing between racial and economic criteria and between groups of people. age, emphasizing the importance of food equity initiatives.”
Amassing sufficient fiscal resources is the biggest challenge to Yolo Food Bank’s ability to execute on its new mission and realize the results inspired by the vision, according to Bisch.
“Over 90% of Yolo Food Bank’s annual funding depends on generous individuals and businesses in the community who believe in the impact of our mission and its potential for tremendous results,” Bisch explained. “The one-time government funding we received earlier in the pandemic has dried up, and no other government funding has yet been allocated to replace it.”
“As a result, in 2022, we look to investing the generous contributions of our donors in the food equity work of our new mission and vision, setting aside the state-mandated activities that are the responsibility of local governments to fund and execute, such as SB 1383 Edible Food Recovery.The Yolo Food Bank is to focus on promoting the healthy outcomes that all local residents deserve, thereby improving their quality of life.
“We believe that good health involves more than just medical services. Better nutrition absolutely plays a role in overall health and well-being,” said Tammy Powers, Acting Executive Director of Sutter Davis Hospital. “It is extremely important for us to work with community organizations such as Yolo Food Bank who are committed to addressing the systemic issues that lead to food insecurity and poor individual health. Through its strong nonprofit partner organization program, Yolo Food Bank can help increase its own capacity, as well as the capacity of more than 80 nonprofit organizations that access their facility’s food and resources.
Yolo Food Bank has 50 years of experience alleviating poverty in Yolo County. To learn more about access to food countywide, or to provide funds or volunteer time, visit www.yolofoodbank.org.