In The News


Food Bank for Monterey County breaks ground on a new home.

Early in the morning on Saturday, March 21, 2015, an arsonist set the Food Bank for Monterey County ablaze, damaging multiple refrigerated trucks and the loading dock. It was the last straw for a nonprofit that had already outgrown its facility.

But the process of finding a new location took time. Fast-forward almost three years to Monday, Jan. 22, when Melissa Kendrick, the Food Bank’s executive director, celebrated the groundbreaking for a new 50,000-square-foot facility on West Rossi Street in Salinas.

The new facility is a much-needed expansion and upgrade for the nonprofit, which has been leasing an old tea-packing facility on West Market Street. The existing place has roughly 5,000 square feet of cold storage capacity; the new facility will provide 20,000 square feet, and aims to be fully powered by solar panels.

It’s in this same facility, Kendrick says, that the organization grew over the last 25 years from handling 100,000 pounds of food a year to more than 10 million; they needed to expand.

“As you can imagine, to get from 100,000 to 10 million is quite a task,” Kendrick told members of the staff, city officials, and the press on Monday morning. “It’s time to move on”.

The food bank serves one in five Monterey County residents, half of whom are children.

The new building launched roughly 18 months ago, following years of fundraising (including through Monterey County Gives!) and seed funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Harden Foundation, Sunlight Giving Foundation and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation.

The food bank is still raising money for its new facility, and launched what they’re calling the “Spoonful of Love” campaign. The goal is to sell 100,000 personalized engraved spoons at $100 each, which will be mounted on the wall of the new place when construction is complete.

The new spot is expected to open in June.


MONTEREY HERALD | Jan. 22, 2018

Food Bank of Monterey County expanding services with new $10 million facility in Salinas

Salinas >> Ground was broken at a new location for the Food Bank for Monterey County on Monday, amidst the puddles created by an early morning rain.

“I apologize for the weather,” said Melissa Kendrick, the Food Bank’s executive director. “First, I’d like to draw your attention to our swimming pool,” she said, gesturing to standing water left from the showers.

Jokes aside, Kendrick was all smiles for the groundbreaking ceremony. Preparations to build the new bank have been percolating over the last 18 months. The Food Bank is the largest provider of emergency supplementary food in Monterey County and serves 1 in 5 of the area’s residents, half of those being children. Their facilities of the last 20 years were “woefully inadequate” for feeding those over 100,000 individuals a year, said Kendrick.

The old site, located at 815 W. Market St. in Salinas, was particularly limited in terms of food storage capacity. The limitation was worsened by a fire that took place on March 21, 2015, which damaged the bank’s industrial-sized refrigerator. The blaze also took out three of the bank’s trucks used to collect and deliver food.

“The fire really planted the seed” to build a better food bank at a new location, said Susan Spiegel, board president for the nonprofit.

The Market Street site was leased, she explained, and rent was the largest line item on the bank’s budget. In addition, with only 5,000 square feet of refrigeration space, the old location didn’t fit the needs of a food bank distributing upwards of 10 million pounds of food a year.

“Our partners in the agriculture industry donate us their overage,” Spiegel said. “At the old facility, we couldn’t handle more food even if they wanted to give it – now we won’t have to turn any food away.”

Kendrick found the bank’s new site at 334 W. Rossi St. The Food Bank purchased the $2.5 million plot with funds from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, the Harden Foundation, Pinnacle Bank and Sunlight Giving. SSB Construction is building the new facility, designed by Belli Architectural Group, to be powered by an array of solar-panels and feature 20,000 square feet of refrigeration space.

The new food bank aims to minimize its own carbon footprint and that of its partners in agriculture.

California’s landfills emit a steady stream of methane as the organic waste in them decomposes – enough to make them the second largest man-made source of methane in the state. The landfills are made up of about 18 percent food waste, making food a major contributor to the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

To help tackle the issue, Gov. Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill 1383 in 2016. The bill requires that at least 20 percent of edible food that is currently disposed of in California is recovered for human consumption by 2025. CalRecycle propels the state toward this goal by regulating the disposal, recycling and recovery of organic waste. Partnerships with organizations like the Food Bank for Monterey County help agricultural companies comply with the new regulations.

“When they have excess food, they think of us first,” said Kendrick. “We’re able to divert produce and perishable waste from landfills and get it into the mouths of those that need it.”

The new food bank should be open by June, she said, and operations will continue at the old facility in the meantime.

“I’m surprised she didn’t make the sun come out,” said Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter of Kendrick at the groundbreaking. Gunter commended Kendrick’s tireless passion, noting the community’s reliance on her efforts at the Food Bank. The nonprofit provides food to 150 agencies, including Meals on Wheels, Dorothy’s Place and many church pantries.

“Because of the food bank, people are getting fed tonight,” he said.

Congressman Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, sent his support from Washington, where he is working to reauthorize the Farm Bill, which supports supplementary food programs like the Food Bank. Supervisor Simon Salinas, Social Services director Elliott Robinson, and Salinas councilmembers Gloria De La Rosa and Scott Davis also attended the event.

“The Food Bank has so many faces,” said District 5 Supervisor Mary Adams, who has supported the organization since her days as CEO of United Way Monterey County. Many county residents are impacted by hunger, she said, from military families to seniors to young people.



Food Bank of Monterey County expanding services with new $10 million facility in Salinas

Those in need will soon be able to receive food more efficiently and quickly, and with smaller lines, thanks to a new $10 million facility for the Food Bank for Monterey County.

The Food Bank for Monterey County is slated to open its new 50,000 square-foot facility in June, located at 334 West Rossi St. in Salinas. It held its ground-breaking event at its new location on Monday morning.

Melissa Kendrick, executive director for the Food Bank for Monterey County, said when the program started, they were distributing 100,000 pounds of food annually.

Now, the food bank distributes an excess of 10 million pounds of food to more than 20 percent of Monterey County residents each year, she said.

“This is critical because we sit in this phenomenal ag community and the most important thing is that we’re not only feeding people, but we’re feeding people healthily,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick said the current location on Market Street is inadequate for the amount of food they’re handling, and everything will be much easier to distribute in the new facility come June.

“We have tried to make the food bank fit the facility instead of the facility fit the food bank,” said Kendrick. “This is just going to be enormous, everything from safety to just having the space that we need.”

Joe Splane, board member for the Monterey County Food Bank, said the current food bank location, which has been the primary location for more than 20 years, has had its slew of problems including storage issues, heating issues and parking issues, to name a few.

Cathie Montero, programs manager for the food bank, said temperature and space problems also created concern with food storage, which the new facility should address.

“During the holidays when we were getting turkeys in, there’s just enough room, so we were getting food in and getting it out as fast as we could because there’s no space,” she explained. “We’re all about food safety, so we are very aware of the food temperatures and how long we can even keep stuff out.”

The jump from an estimated 5,000 to 20,000 square foot of cold storage location is going to make a vast difference in quality and quantity of food to be distributed, said Splane.

The new facility should also help expedite the distribution of food with the help of more volunteers and the non-profits who are involved with the food bank, said Montero.

“This facility will make it so much easier for them to get food from us for their programs, whether its soup kitchens, shelters, rehab centers, senior sites, youth programs,” she said. “No matter what it is, it will make it easier for them to get food from us.”

The food bank was not able to pinpoint a new location for years, said Splane, but after years of fundraising and investments, they were finally able to secure the location on Rossi Street, which was one of the few available locations in the city.

The land for the new facility was bought outright by the food bank for $2.5 million, said Kendrick.

Kendrick said they hope to raise the $10 million within the next six months for the facility with a new fundraising campaign called the “Spoonful of Love to Help End Hunger in Monterey County” – selling 100,000 spoons at $100 each.

She is hopeful local corporations will also help with the new campaign to support the food bank’s mission.