How does that saying go “if you haven’t seen Community FoodBank lately, you haven’t seen Community FoodBank”?
2017 came to a close wrapped up like a beautiful Christmas package. We transformed our newly purchased building from an aging, shabby warehouse to a modern, energy efficient showcase, all without incurring any debt. Every interior wall was modified, if not demolished. The reception area is now welcoming and comfortable, complete with a colorful tile art display. The office space is completely reconfigured to accommodate more staff with an open organizational concept. The scary stairs up to the attic loft were replaced leading to a finished second floor office and conference center. But more than any of that, the warehouse space where we used to hand out food is totally transformed to an inviting marketplace where customers can shop for healthy food choices just like a neighborhood corner market. Produce bins have replaced pallets, shopping baskets have replaced industrial carts, hand-crafted display shelves have replaced folding tables, and free-flowing conversation of shoppers has replaced waiting lines. Best of all, human value and dignity have replaced insignificance and shame.
As incredible as the renovated building looks and feels, it doesn’t compare to the overwhelming support we received from our community. At every turn of the project, someone came forward to generously offer office space, storage, equipment, furnishings, expertise, craftsmanship, prayers, moral support and finances. And it is because of this tremendous support that we were able to seamlessly continue to provide fresh groceries to our customers, albeit from the far corner of the building, throughout the six months of the project. We truly could not have accomplished this transformative project without all our friends and neighbors championing the cause.
Because I’m not one who likes to look back for long, I am welcoming in 2018 with its promise of more exciting opportunities to serve our community. We have already cast a new vision for our benefit thrift store “Pat’s Place”. Since the doors opened in 2009, the profits from every sale flow directly to the food bank to help cover operational costs such as electricity bills to keep the three walk-in coolers running, fuel to keep our trucks receiving and delivering fresh groceries. Through the years, the thrift store has exceeded expectations and has now outgrown its current location at 5TH and Sally streets. We are shopping for a new location to be able to continue serving our community while providing a steady income stream to help fund our food operations. Now that’s what I call a “win-win.”
Through our partnership with the City of Hollister, we have applied for funding to purchase and operate a first ever mobile pantry in town. The mobile pantry would stop at underserved corners of our city to offer fresh grocery options to our neighbors who have barriers to visiting the food bank in person. In addition, the pantry program will provide healthy recipe cards that coincide with the products offered each week. We want to make a positive impact on the health of our residents and we believe that eating healthy foods is a critical component of overall good health. As Hippocrates, the father of medicine said over 2,000 years ago, “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food.”
Maria Lynn Thomas
Chief Executive Officer
Maria Lynn Thomas is the Chief Executive Officer of Community Food Bank of San Benito County.