The second program Newsom outlined focuses on providing additional funding to the Farm to Family Program, which the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) started in the late 1990s. According to CAFB's director of communications, Lauren Reid, the current program generally provides about 160 million pounds of produce a year to households across the state.
With the coronavirus crisis leaving millions jobless, demand at food banks has significantly gone up. CAFB estimates that it provided 22 million pounds of food to the state in April. Newsom explained in the press conference that there’s an imbalance in the supply chain: the state's ranchers and farmers have seen a 50% reduction in demand, but food banks experienced a 73% spike. “Here we are in the breadbasket of the world, California, and we want to address that mismatch," Newsom said.
“We're seeing an unprecedented need,” said Leslie Bacho, CEO of the San Jose food bank Second Harvest Silicon Valley, which delivered over 4 million pounds of produce in April.
Bacho explained that Second Harvest Silicon Valley distributed 40% more food this month than during the same month last year: about 8,000–10,000 boxes of produce a day. She estimated that Second Harvest serves 100,000 more people than it did before the pandemic, adding that she hopes increased state funding will offset growing operating costs. Currently, the food bank pays a trucking and handling fee (about 8-10 cents per pound), and those costs add up.
Newsom announced that the program currently has 128 farmers and ranchers providing food to 41 food banks in 58 counties in California, which includes the Marin-San Francisco, Alameda and Second Harvest Silicon Valley food banks. The goal is to provide an additional monthly 20–21 million pounds of produce, poultry, dairy and other goods to these organizations.
Lastly, Newsom announced two adjustments to the state’s CalFresh and EBT food-assistance programs. Thanks to federal waivers, CalFresh will now provide access to commodities online, starting with Walmart and Amazon. Newsom said that this will benefit 2.2 million households and about 4 million people. An additional waiver provides meals to families and children who would otherwise qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch within the school system.