The Food Bank for Monterey County is the largest and most comprehensive provider of emergency supplemental food and a key proponent of anti-hunger education and advocacy in our community.

For over 25 years, the Food Bank has been at the frontlines of fighting hunger and addressing nutritional needs in our community and we are committed to our mission “to lead community efforts in the awareness and elimination of hunger in Monterey County.” The only time we have ever interrupted service was in the wake of a devastating arson in 2015 that destroyed our entire delivery fleet, caused significant damage to our loading dock and facility, and forced us to dispose of our entire food supply.

Despite this, we marshaled all available resources, including an unprecedented outpouring of community support, and were able to resume limited distributions within only two days and return to full operational capacity within a relatively short time. Since then, we have resumed program expansions and the creation of new ones that were delayed due to the arson, as we were forced to divert all funds toward recovery efforts.

These programs, which include a Senior Produce Market, Youth Family Market, Farmworker Mobile Produce Pantry, Breast Cancer Patient Food Assistance Program, and Kids N.O.W. (Nutrition On Weekends) in addition to our three main large-scale food distribution programs, continue to grow as we modify and expand them to meet the ever-increasing need and the specific concerns of our most vulnerable populations-seniors, farmworkers, and children.

To learn more about our programs and our educational and advocacy efforts, please click on the links below.

Click on the Programs below for more details:

Emergency Food Assistance Program

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (E.F.A.P.) is the Food Bank’s largest direct distribution program. It takes place monthly at twenty-six sites throughout the county where volunteers distribute bags containing essentials such as tuna, fruit, vegetables, rice, beans, bread and other donated foods. These sites are carefully selected and conveniently located as to reach as many people in need as possible and to make it easier for them to come to us. In the past two years, we have been expanding this program through our Agency Clearinghouse partners, most of whom are located in areas of high need and easily accessible, so that they can not only avail themselves of an additional steady source of nutritious staple foods but also to allow us to further extend our reach into the areas of highest need. These foods are provided to them regularly, and in consistent quantities, which allows them to plan for future food acquisitions to “round out” their offerings.

On average through this program, we serve 8,500 households per month, with a total of 2.6 million pounds of food annually.

Do you or someone you know need food? Click here.

To access a calendar of food distribution sites click here.

Agency Clearinghouse Program

The Agency Clearinghouse Program is a partnership with over 140 Monterey County non-profit agencies including emergency pantries, churches, youth and senior groups, women’s shelters, and homeless shelters. The Food Bank serves as their primary food resource. The decline in traditional food donations due to more sophisticated inventory controls and the growth of secondary markets has had a significant impact on all nonprofits but smaller nonprofits have been most adversely affected. This has caused them to strictly ration quantities of food provided, to reduce emergency pantry hours of operation, or eliminate these pantries altogether.

Agency Clearinghouse is a means by which our local nonprofits, collaborating in our mutual goal to improve the lives of our shared client demographic, can acquire consistent quantities of quality food to provide to clients in need. The ability to provide food to their struggling clients allows these nonprofits to have an even greater impact on their lives and overall wellbeing. For agencies, this program is a low-cost food resource that allows savings of thousands of dollars annually and for the Food Bank, this program is an invaluable opportunity to further our reach into underserved areas and populations.

Last year, nearly 2 million pounds of food was distributed through this program, serving 11,000 households each month. For those our agencies serve-seniors, homeless persons, working poor, children, and persons with disabilities-these emergency pantries are often a crucial, if not sole, source of the supplemental food they desperately need.

The Family Market

The Family Market Program, reminiscent of a Farmer’s Market but free, is an outdoor produce-only distribution developed in response to the challenges presented by diminished traditional food resources and the recognition of the health benefits that fresh, nutritious produce would bring those who were most in need of and the least able to afford it.

Instead of receiving pre-packed bags, clients may choose from an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, some locally grown, and take what they need. Those who are in the most need of the health benefits of these food items are sadly those who can least afford these foods-and they can even less afford the inevitable health consequences, which result in chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes that are costly to treat and debilitating to sufferers.

This program operates at ten countywide sites and has also been expanded to target two especially vulnerable populations-youth and seniors.

Kids N.O.W. (“Nutrition On Weekends”)

The Kids N.O.W. (“Nutrition On Weekends”) program is our latest effort to address child hunger in our community. Through this program, children in need are provided a bag of food to take home with them over weekends and school breaks.

Far too many children rely on school meals as their only stable source of nutrition and times away from school are times of uncertainty, and often, hunger. We currently serve over 2000 children each week and are working to expand the program.

In the schools we currently serve, 90% of the children live in poverty. This program assures children of a continuous reliable supply of a variety of food containing all of the vital nutrients they require for normal growth and development and brings peace of mind to struggling families.

Farmworkers Mobile Produce Pantry

The Farmworkers Mobile Produce Pantry delivers fresh produce and perishables to farmworkers directly on the fields as they’re ending their shifts for the day. We have been increasing our outreach into the remote South County areas, placing an emphasis on distributing fresh produce, as residents in these areas suffer from not only high food insecurity but also high rates of chronic poverty related illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

The produce and nutritious perishables we provide through the Pantry address a critical nutrition deficit within this population due to the considerable barriers to access posed by lack of transportation, remote areas with limited amenities, and the high costs and low variety of food available to them to purchase. Being assured of a reliable weekly source of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables not only provides a much-needed supplement to their diets but also makes it possible for them to ward off the debilitating consequences of insufficient nutrition.

Breast Cancer Patient Food Assistance Program

The Breast Cancer Patient Food Assistance Program provides food assistance to women in need going through treatment for breast cancer. The Food Bank delivers the food directly to their homes.

These foods are specially selected to address the unique nutritional needs of patients in treatment or recovery and include other healthful items, especially fresh produce, that their limited budgets cannot accommodate. This program, funded by a private donor, addresses a critical need of struggling patients and their families, relieving them of the burden of worrying about the whens, whats, and ifs of their next meals, so they can focus on treatment.

Eligible women can sign up for this program through the Breast Cancer Assistance Group of Monterey County, which provides support and assistance to women undergoing treatment or recovery from breast cancer.

Education and Advocacy Program

In addition to providing food, we also work to promote the healthful diet, exercise, and lifestyle practices that will maximize the benefits of the nutritious food we provide through our programs.

Our distribution sites are a popular venue for information on nutrition, recipes, and healthful living, as well as other resources available to low-income residents who need assistance with other crucial human needs such as housing or health care. This educational component is also a significant aspect of our child-targeted nutritional outreach as it is essential for their growth and development to cultivate healthful lifestyle habits from an early age in order to ward off diseases, concentrate and retain information in school, and to have the energy needed to play, learn, and enjoy an overall high quality of life.

The short and long term costs of hunger-the compromised development, the life threatening chronic health problems, the medical expenses incurred through treatment and maintenance-are borne not only by the sufferers but by the community as a whole, especially when such a significant percentage-20% of its members-are suffering from it. Food is the most crucial need of all and one of the most straightforward to address.

The Food Bank is able to leverage a growing roster of member agencies, food donors, and other sources of aid in order to efficiently and effectively serve our hungry residents