Elk Grove Food Bank expanding its reach into south Sacramento

Elk Grove Food Bank Services, a fixture in the city for 40 years, is expanding its reach into south Sacramento neighborhoods north of the city limits.

The nonprofit food bank is focusing its expansion on what executive director Marie Jachino calls the “828” – shorthand for the 95828 ZIP code boxed by Fruitridge Road to the north, Elk Grove-Florin Road to the east, and Calvine Road to the south.

“You cross over Calvine Road and you’re in the 828. That’s part of our expansion. ... We decided to expand, regardless (of money),” Jachino said on a busy Thursday at the food bank, which is tucked into an east Elk Grove industrial park at 9820 Dino Drive. “We want to be able to reach these folks. We’re excited about expanding to 95828. They kind of fall through the cracks.”

It’s a ZIP code with the highest jobless rate in Sacramento County outside of rural Walnut Grove, according to the state Employment Development Department. U.S. census figures estimate that more than one-fifth of its residents live below the poverty level.

The nonprofit plans to dispatch mobile food pantries in the coming weeks to serve low-income seniors and struggling families who cannot get to the food bank. It is also working to locate space to open a satellite center.

The residents the food bank aims to reach in the south Sacramento neighborhoods bordering Elk Grove “don’t have easy access to large grocery stores and they have no access to the food bank,” said case manager Judy Sala. “We have single-parent families who by the 20th (of each month) are out of food and money. We try to help them fill that gap.”

About 3,300 people a month are served in some capacity by Elk Grove Food Bank, Jachino said. They include families who need help putting food on the table; children who need school clothes; newcomers building their language skills; and recently laid-off people trying to get back into the job market. Nearly 35,000 people used the food bank’s services during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

“There is so much food insecurity in Elk Grove,” Jachino said. “People of all walks of life come in, the working poor. We see a lot of struggling families.”

And, increasingly clients include seniors who come to the food bank or await deliveries of donated food at their homes.

“Our fastest growing demographic is 60 and older. They’re on fixed incomes and on Social Security,” Jachino said. “They have to make tough choices between medications and rent. We’ve seen an increase of 40 percent this year.”

For more information on Elk Grove Food Bank Services, call (916) 685-8453 or visit www.elkgrovefoodbank.org.