Petaluma Bounty played a unique and crucial role as a community hub for local food response. We also played the role of convener, traffic control, mentor, facilitator, coordinator, and other descriptors as the occasions required. Petaluma Bounty leveraged existing networks and infrastructure to respond to ongoing and new needs in the face of this unprecedented disaster.
Specifically, we eased the burdens and complications of donating produce by making our refrigeration space available to donors and farmers, provided donation receipts and letters, made ourselves available to accept donations at all hours, managed logistics and distribution, identified and communicated unmet and emerging needs for food in our community, coordinated and trained volunteers to respond to those needs, re-configurated an existing mapping project to provide information to other service providers, coached and consulted new partners onboarding into the food recovery arena, and distributed produce to community members and service agencies that did not have their needs met by other sources.
We, like many groups, are still figuring out gaps in service and new unmet needs in this evolving landscape. Concurrently, we’re working extra hard to ensure consistency for the services we were engaged in before the fires. Our work of community food security spans emergency food distribution to supporting food insecure people (whether a chronic issue or a one-time event) to become more self sufficient using methods that reinforce local farmers and our food system. Before the fire, 1 in 6 community members were in need of longer term support in accessing healthy supplemental food. Knowing that not all people affected by the fires will land on their feet, we expect this need will increase. This is a crucial and rich learning opportunity for people (trying to find that silver lining) to understand how others like themselves can fall into the poverty/food insecurity/poor health trap. Sometimes, all it takes is one illness, job loss, or natural disaster.
Petaluma Bounty continued to offer produce to our existing food insecure customers while converting all produce outlets to donations. We also offered produce to those recently displaced or those housing displaced community members. Through the below distribution outlets, we packed and distributed approximately 150 bags of produce with an average weight of ten pounds per bag, or approximately 1500 pounds of fresh produce. Bulk transfers of food weighed approximately another 800 pounds for an approximate total of 2,300 pounds distributed.
Together, we put together snack bags for people who were unable to cook (for folks in shelters or receiving help at partner service providers, etc) and grocery bags for people who could cook (newly re-homed, housing others in their home, existing food insecure customers). We also provided food in bulk for commercial kitchens and other evacuation support services.
Partner Agencies that received produce:
- PPSC on site-referrals (new)
- Elks Lodge (new)
- Sonoma Preferred Caterers (new)
- Park Lane Apartments (new)
- Individuals and families that self-identified as needing help, especially Spanish speakers in collaboration with Petaluma Adult School and McDowell Family Resource Center (new)
- The Bodega (new)
- Wildlife Rescue (new, received produce not fit for human consumption)
- Nopalito (existing relationship, new effort)
- Petaluma Health Center (converted two farm stands into free food distributions)
- Burbank Housing Logan Place and Old Elm (existing relationships and programs)
- COTS Mary Isaac Center
- PEP Housing
Partners that provided produce:
- Oak Hill Farm
- Coyote Family Farm
- Bi-Rite Farm
- Sonoma Ecology Center Garden Park
- The Sonoma Farm at Sweetwater Spectrum
- Petaluma Bounty Farm
- Tolay Regional Park
Bounty received an increase in volunteer interest and logged 28 hours of volunteer time during the period of 10/8 through 10/24.
Short Term Programmatic Impacts:
-Director and Education and Engagement Coordinator’s time diverted to emergency response first week and part-time second week
-Two grant deadlines de-prioritized (and missed) during urgent situation
-Two weeks of Bounty Farm Produce diverted to emergency relief efforts (approximate retail value of $1,294)
-Extra cost of cleaning supplies, masks.
Engagement in longer term community efforts:
Petaluma Bounty is uniquely positioned to bring a community food security lens to the community response to short and long term food insecurity while prioritizing the needs of small scale farmers and our local food system.
We will continue to convene, facilitate, and bring critical thinking to conversations about community resilience and food security. Further, we will collaboratively design programming in response to new and evolving community problems related to food in our community. This IS our work.
As we look towards recovery and resilience, we are working on several projects that sprung out of with roots in our historic community-based programming. One of these involves re-configuring mapping efforts to better respond to emergency efforts (please see this post for context and links). We will also continue to be a site for research and trainings as well as organizational support of a pre-existing Citizen’s Science Project related to air pollution, fire, and food safety, directed by Vanessa Raditz (for more information, visit this link). Through these projects, we will help our community recover from this disaster and prevent as many people as possible from becoming long-term food insecure victims.