Daylight. It’s not something anyone wants to see at the bottom of a truck.
The huge white box truck that the Cordova Community Food Locker uses to pick up food donations for hungry people in the area is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Lately, though, notes Gary Greeson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and food locker volunteer, “We can see daylight through the cracks” in the cargo compartment floor, which has “fractured in numerous places under the stress of heavy loads of palletized canned goods.”
The truck was initially meant for transporting furniture, said the Rev. Walter Little, a Catholic deacon who co-founded the food locker with John Healey in 1987.
“Pallets of food are heavier, much heavier,” he said. They had to weld on a steel plate near the back of the truck to be able to slide the pallets in, Little said.
The food locker has been running nonstop for almost 30 years. It provides an emergency supply of food, three days’ worth, to needy families and individuals. Its clients include the elderly, homeless, immigrants, unemployed and working poor, and those who are physically challenged.
It is staffed by volunteers and distributes food three days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. People are asked for an address and can get another three days of food supplies once 30 days has passed.
“My son, the computer programmer, set up the program that keeps track of everyone. Even the homeless get some kind of address,” Little said.
On the day before Thanksgiving, 200 food locker volunteers distributed 1,088 full turkey dinners.
“And then someone came by with 49 more turkeys that day, so we gave them to the recently housed homeless vets – everybody got turkey!” he said.
The food locker, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, consists of some storage pods (the cargo trailer of the original delivery truck, donated by the Cordova Kiwanis, is one of the pods) and several heavy-duty freezers and refrigeration units next to a modified portable office building with a sturdy overhang and deck with stairs at both ends.
Clients receive food in the parking lot of St. John Vianney Parish on Coloma Road in Rancho Cordova.
“All this stuff was donated,” Little said. “Of course, it took $14,000 to get the 20-ton food locker and two-unit freezer to work, but we got somebody to donate that, too.”
The deacon stops by a large framed photo of Pope Francis and a proclamation below it.
“Two years ago, I wrote to the pope and told him that we had hit the 15 million meals mark. He sent back this apostolic blessing. I like to say that we may be the only internationally recognized food bank around.”
Little said he loves putting on his public relations hat to drum up support for the food locker
What started out as a program to feed 1,500 a month now feeds 5,000 monthly. The food bank depends heavily on donations from individuals and the pickup of recurring food donations from Foodlink, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, and Grocery Outlet.
And the food bank is hopeful those pick-ups won’t come crashing through the rickety floor before it can be replaced.
All Book of Dreams donations are tax-deductible, and none of the money received will be used for administrative costs.
Needed: New floor for the cargo compartment of the Cordova Community Food Locker’s box truck.