North State Food Bank
Prior to the November 8, 2018 Camp Fire, the Community Action Agency of Butte County (CAA) and it’s North State Food Bank (NSFB) quietly went about the business of distributing food to pantries, shelters and community partners in need throughout Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Plumas and Sierra Counties. Each and every day, families and individuals were facing the emergency of food insecurity. The NSFB was there; providing both perishable and non-perishable foods to approximately 52 food pantries, delivering basic kitchen staples through the State’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, fruits and vegetables to Kid’s Farmer’s Markets at elementary schools, and bulk produce from farmers under the Donate Don’t Dump program at tailgate events open to the public.
Then disaster hit on the morning of the Camp Fire. Many agencies and well-meaning people arrived in the area to help with the crisis. We subscribe to the belief that people are inherently good and it reinforced that belief as people sacrificed so much for those who had lost everything. However, as we begin to move from crisis to recovery, many of the agencies and volunteers who arrived early in the crisis have moved on to the next disaster, or back to their daily lives. Meanwhile, CAA is still here and still serving the emergency needs of our community through the NSFB and other vital programs, such as Weatherization and Utility Assistance.
It takes collaboration, partnerships, donors and volunteers to make the services available that CAA administers in the Region. Grassroots Aid Partnership, Grassroots Alliance, Organic Valley and Dr. Bronner’s Soap were among the first to join us in the effort to assist fire survivors. Their donations of time and resources made it possible for the NSFB to begin holding food giveaways in various locations where people can line up for an assortment of organic and wholesome food. Most of the fire survivors did not land in organized shelters; but instead moved in with friends and family in the area. This puts a burden on households who may have already struggled with their own food insecurities prior to opening their doors to those in need. CAA’s NSFB is working hard to get wholesome and nutritious food into those households and one of those ways is our produce boxes.
Farm Fresh to You and Capay Organics have generously provided wholesome, fresh produce from their CSA system. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a food production and distribution system that directly connects farmers and consumers. These produce boxes contain beautiful fruit and vegetables and are portioned to meet the needs of a four-person household for one-week. Getting these produce boxes into the hands of Camp Fire Survivors is logistically challenging. One of the ways that the NSFB accomplishes this is through partnering with White Pony Express (WPE), a non-profit group from Contra Costa County who typically feeds those in need from Contra Costa County with rescued food.. WPE has been delivering food to fire survivors in small, largely ignored trailer encampments since shortly after the fire broke out. It was a natural fit for the NSFB to supply WPE with produce boxes to distribute alongside their offerings. This partnership will help put 6400 pounds of produce into the hands of 800 fire survivor households per month.
In 2018, the CAA’s NSFB distributed approximately 45,000 emergency food boxes in our 5-county service area. 2019 is on-track to increase that number substantially with the same staff and physical resources. We cannot accomplish this on our own. Please contribute generously of your time and financial support.
Disaster Recovery Housing Assistance (DRHA)
Since the Camp Fire, CAA has secured approximately $120,000 funding to assist the most vulnerable of our community who are without homes or have lost income due to the fire. With this funding CAA developed the Disaster Recovery Housing Assistance program (DRHA), which can assist fire survivors with relocation assistance, short-term rental assistance, and a one-time security deposit. Rental assistance can be used for room rental, apartment or home rent, RV or mobile home park rentals. This amount of funding may seem like a lot, but the fact is it will assist 30-40 families and the need is obviously much greater. Please consider donating to CAA’s DRHA program; your contribution will make a direct and significant impact on a household working to regain a foothold following this unprecedented disaster.
Short-Term Emergency Housing
In the days immediately following the Camp Fire, CAA was able to repurpose a portion of its Utility Assistance funding and use it to provide low-income survivors hotel rooms for several weeks. In the months of November and December 2018, CAA provided hotel rooms to 82 households (164 individuals), which included 35 elderly, 52 disabled and 58 children. In total CAA provided 1,443 nights of hotel rooms which afforded these vulnerable families the ability to focus on their recovery in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
CAA’s Role in The Recovery Process
We have witnessed the recovery process from other recent disaster areas and understand this process to be a long and difficult one. CAA has been Helping People, Changing Lives for over 50 years. This is what we do. Our community can rely on CAA to continue providing nutritious, wholesome food to those in need, housing assistance to the homeless, and weatherization and utility assistance to low-income households.