Volunteers distribute donated food at the Elk Grove Food Bank’s Dino Drive facility.

With Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of the $214.8 billion state budget on June 27, Elk Grove Food Bank Services will receive $4 million for a permanent home.

The entire $4 million from the state is solely to be used for this facility, and not for other uses such as to pay for operational and administrative costs.

Spearheading the effort to assist the local food bank with this financing was Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, who serves as chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration.

Marie Jachino, executive director of the food bank, told the Citizen that Cooper called her on June 28 to inform her that the food bank would be receiving the funding.

“I heard from Assemblyman Cooper on Friday morning, and the Elk Grove Food Bank is getting $4 million to get a facility,” she said. “It’s pretty surreal. That’s a lot of money. It’s just a tremendous, tremendous gift.”

The food bank has until late 2021 to spend the money or forfeit this funding.

Jachino noted that a permanent home for the food bank will eliminate the need for the organization to rent three structures, including its main location at Dino Drive.

She added that it would also create a sustainable future for the food bank, which serves thousands of people in the community every month.

“It’s going to be a huge resource for the community,” Jachino said. “We will be able to expand our services and align ourselves with some of the other nonprofits that we work closely with, and maybe be able to have them have an office space (in the building), too.”

Jachino mentioned that finding a new location will be challenging.

“I think it’s going to be a difficult challenge to find a suitable location for us,” she said. “Ideally, we would like to stay on the east side of Elk Grove, because that’s where most of our clients are from. A lot of our seniors, though, are actually in the Laguna area.”

One of the problems with searching for a new location, Jachino noted, is there is still a lot of people who have the “not in my backyard” feeling about the food bank.

“I think we might run up against some problems of (people) not wanting the food bank in the area,” she said.

Jachino added that the city of Elk Grove will aid in the food bank’s search for a new home, which she hopes will be located in an already constructed building.

“(With an existing structure), we could move much quicker,” she said.

The executive director stressed the importance of the food bank’s future expansion into a permanent home.

“The food bank is not going away, the need is not going away,” she said. “It’s only increasing. The Elk Grove Food Bank really provides critical services for the needs in Elk Grove now. We’re seeing more and more people every single day coming in here to sign up for food. They need food and clothing.

“There are 20 or more people in line today, and a lot of the people in need are new. (The needs) are probably just going to increase.”

Among the immediate larger needs of the food bank is additional cold storage space.

Jachino said that the approved state funding for the food bank will also bring greater awareness of the need for the services of Elk Grove’s food bank.

“The money is not only for a facility, but it’s going to bring huge awareness to the need here in Elk Grove and (the) south county that hasn’t been recognized in the past,” she said.

“I’ve applied for grants (for the food bank) and been turned away, because they go by zip codes and our zip codes don’t fit into a certain criteria of needs. I think this will open up a lot of doors for us.”