April 29, 2022

Calexico and IV Food Bank collaborating on distribution hub

This article was originally published by the Imperial Valley Press on April 29, 2022 and can be read here.


CALEXICO – During its April 20 meeting at City Hall, the City Council approved a resolution expressing its intent to collaborate with the Imperial Valley Food Bank to address food access needs.

Sara Griffen, IV Food Bank executive director, read a letter to council members and said that the problem the food bank faces in Calexico is a lack of partner agencies to support the food distribution.

“The letter to the council was to move that concept forward and start applying and looking for funding to retrofit a building to become a food hub,” said Griffen.

Calexico has installed four drive-thru distribution sites to support the IV Food Bank. They are located in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, John F. Kennedy Park, Rodriguez Park and Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church, but according to Griffen, it is not a sustainable model.

Long lines of community members are registered at distribution sites and the Calexico Police Department helps with traffic and street closures.

“The goal of this collaboration is to partner with the food bank in potential grant applications,” said Lisa Tylenda, Calexico Planning and Building Services director.

Griffen said she spoke with Tylenda about establishing a food hub within the downtown area of the city.

“Creating this food station will be a great effort,” Griffen said. “The hub will create an agency to serve people in a manner that is convenient and dignifying.”

She noted that due to the pandemic, the number of users across the Imperial Valley at food distribution sites has increased.

“Pre-pandemic we served 18,000 a month; we got up to 30,000 at the height of COVID-19, and then we went down to 25,000. That is where we are now,” Griffen said.

She added that the majority of users at food distribution sites are seniors and children who are not in the workforce age or have fixed incomes.

“Now food is more expensive, gas is more expensive; people are having a hard time making that food dollar stretch at the end of the month, now we are seeing our lines go up again,” added Griffen.

She is hopeful of the potential of creating the food hub and the positive impact it will bring to the city.

“We are not there yet, but we are looking forward to moving in that direction because it’s going to be good for the community,” Griffen said.

Imperial Valley Food Bank Direct Service Manager Ariana Ochoa assists Calexico residents at one of three different Calexico distribution sites. PHOTO COURTESY OF IMPERIAL VALLEY FOOD BANK