Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen (left) donated a $1,200 check to the Elk Grove Food Bank Services at their future home last December. Pictured with her is the food bank’s executive director, Marie Jachino.

Elk Grove Food Bank Executive Director Marie Jachino told the Citizen on July 26 that the cement for the concrete pad of the food bank’s new, 9,900-square-foot warehouse is scheduled to be poured this week.

Overall, the food bank’s new site, at 9888 Kent St., is tentatively projected for completion in late October.

The project represents a major upgrade from its longtime facility on Dino Drive. The warehouse alone will be twice the size of the food bank’s current building.

Jachino told the Citizen that the warehouse’s “most amazing” aspect is its 600-foot cold storage room.

“That (room) has been my focus, and I’m really proud to say that we have a donor for it,” she said. “It is (Elk Grove resident) Merrilee Lewis (Engel), former president of (Cosumnes River College), and her husband, Simon Engel. (Their donation is) $60,000.

“This community has been amazing through this whole (COVID-19) pandemic and giving contributions for the capital campaign.”

Jachino mentioned that contributors to that campaign were extremely important, considering that

the new food bank project will exceed its initial major donation by about $1 million.

Through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of the $214.8 billion state budget in 2019, Elk Grove Food Bank Services received $4 million for its first 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.

Jachino told the Citizen that although she is not attempting to exclude other donors, she referred to certain contributors as examples.

She mentioned that Cooper provided the food bank with a referral for financial assistance from Union Pacific.

Jachino also highlighted the food bank’s assistance from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and the Jeffrey Adkins’ Elk Grove business, Future Energy Savers.

“SMUD has given the approval to put solar panels on our existing 4,700-square-foot building (on the Kent Street property), and Future Energy is a part of that,” Jachino said. “They’re going to be the vendor, providing the solar panels. SMUD is paying for the solar panels and Future Energy is going to donate the labor.”

Jachino also recognized the support of Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, Elk Grove City Manager Jason Behrmann and other city officials and staff, former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, the Cosumnes Community Services District, the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Elk Grove program, and Republic Services.

As for the number of people using the Elk Grove Food Bank, Jachino said that last year, the food bank served more than 1 million meals to more than 120,000 people. About 32,000 of those people were children and about 27,500 were seniors.

The food bank also served 42,669 family households and 573 homeless people in 2020.

Jachino mentioned that those numbers have remained consistent so far this year.

“The numbers haven’t gone down, and our fiscal year ends in July,” she said.

The number of people that the food bank served last year and this year are reflective of the timeliness of the food bank’s new facility, Jachino noted.

“With the lack of housing, and we’re still doing a lot of new intakes, I think there’s still a lot of people who are unemployed,” she said. “I think we’re going to see a continuation of those numbers for the next couple years.”

Jachino added that she does not imagine that a recession can be avoided.

“I don’t know how you can, with the high cost of gasoline and food and everything else,” she said. “Utilities are going up. Everything has gone up, and a perfect example is the cost of materials for our building that went up 35%.

“We’re having to come up with that additional 35% to make up for what we started out with, and that’s why we’re needing the extra money.”

Jachino stressed the importance of having a larger facility to house the food bank.

“It’s huge,” she said. “This food bank is for the community. To me, it’s a historical time to see this food bank go up. There is such a huge food insecurity all over Sacramento County, so I think we will be able to serve so many other people, and we’ll continue to be able to meet the needs that are out there.

“I think the infrastructure is in place and is needed here in our community. So many people are actually living in poverty here. There are so many people out there that really, really need the food bank.”