A Purpose in Life

Orangevale, CA  |  By Margaret Snider
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Pat Nelson (left) and Lisa Oakumura register clients at the front desk of the Orangevale Food Bank. Photo by Gary mcFadyen

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Claire Bennett (left) and Laila Bottomly pass out food at Orangevale Food Bank. Photo by Gary McFadyen

Providing Food, Resources and Hope

Orangevale, CA (MPG) - Orangevale Food Bank found its mission when it was conceived as an idea in 2011.  That mission is to make a positive impact in the communities of Orangevale and Fair Oaks by providing food, resources and hope to families in need.  Their doors opened in January of 2012. 

“We primarily get our food through small local donations in addition to donations from local grocery stores,” said Keith Wright, assistant director.  “We get close-to-date food from Trader Joe’s, WalMart, Safeway, and Sprouts locally.”  They also have food drives to collect nonperishable foods. 

The food bank relies on volunteers for everything from bringing food in, to sorting it and preparing it for easy dispersal.  On distribution days volunteers check in clients and distribute the food.  “I come on Monday before they open up at 11,” said volunteer Linda Eldredge.  “I do the bags, and I stock and I condense, and tell them what they’re going to need . . . I think the hardest part is that we sometimes don’t have enough volunteers.”

Linda Ervin was a client of the food bank at one time, when her husband had passed away and she needed help.  She figured that they were helping her, she should start giving back.  Ervin started volunteering three years ago.  “I love the clients, they’re fantastic, the volunteers are fantastic, they’re my second family.”  Ervin also serves the organization as ambassador to the Orangevale Chamber of Commerce from the food bank.  “The work is so rewarding.  It’s my first love,” Ervin said.  “I will never give this up, never in a million years.”

Wright joined up soon after the organization started.  A friend was volunteering there and since Wright had construction skills, the friend recruited Wright to do light construction work.  Now he serves alongside the volunteers as assistant director, along with Tom Carden, executive director.  Wright said the biggest challenge right now is reaching the people who need help.  “Some people don’t have the means to get here, or don’t have the physical capability to get here,” Wright said.  “We’re a volunteer organization . . . So we’ve got to find a way to meet that need without overtaxing our volunteer sources.”

Ray Cook, who is retired, finds the food bank a great place to volunteer.  “You feel like you’re part of something bigger than you could be as an individual,” Cook said.  “This, to me, is my purpose in life, to help other people.”

The volunteers at Orangevale Food Bank are very mission driven, Wright said.  “I think they are here because they want to take care of people.  I assume the same is true of all food banks, but I feel like Orangevale does a fantastic job of nurturing that volunteerism.  People who come here seem to come with the spirit that they really want to help people.”

The food bank is open for food distribution three days a week:  Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The food bank is located at 6483 Main Ave. in Orangevale. 

You can sign up to volunteer for the Orangevale Food Bank by going to https://www.justserve.org.  Just enter your town or zip code to find a variety of projects and ways to serve in your community.