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Redwood Empire Food Bank


The Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) food bank that acquires and distributes donated food to feed those in need. Its mission is Building partnerships to end hunger. The REFB, an affiliate of America's Second Harvest, the national network of food banks, is the central source of donated food for more than 120 charitable organizations that operate over 180 programs for people in need throughout Sonoma County. The member organizations include most of the pantries, shelters, dining rooms, group homes, senior programs, and youth programs that serve low-income people.

The REFB also operates direct service programs with distribution sites throughout the county that provide nutritious supplemental food to low-income families and those most at risk of hunger--low-income children and seniors:

Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP): Provides government commodities and donated food monthly to anyone in need.

Senior Brown Bag: Serves low-income seniors supplemental groceries monthly.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): Provides groceries for low-income seniors and preschool children.

A Child's Portion (ACP): Serves preschool children who are in need, but not eligible for government-sponsored assistance programs.

In addition, the REFB provides food to Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte Counties through five smaller subsidiary food banks.


The REFB was founded in 1987 to address the problem of hunger in Sonoma County. It is Sonoma County's largest hunger-relief organization, and the only full-service food bank. The REFB has grown to serve over 42,000 hungry people each month. Of these, 37 percent are children, and 39 percent are working families. This year the REFB will distribute eight million pounds of food, which is the equivalent of over 17,000 meals each day.


The REFB is funded primarily by individuals (31 percent), foundations and corporations (24 percent), member charities through agency service fees (15 percent), and government contracts (15 percent). The REFB operates from a 20,000 square foot warehouse that was donated by the Weingart Family Trust. The work of the REFB is made possible through the assistance of 800 volunteers, 20 volunteer Board of Directors and a staff of 20. In 2002, the REFB's volunteers donated 67,000 hours to the program.

Sources of Food Geographic
Service Area
Local food companies, retailers, farmers, and food drives are major sources of donated food. Through the affiliation with America's Second Harvest, the REFB is also able to access large donations of products directly from manufacturers throughout the country, increasing the variety and quality of food available to people in need. The donated food is nutritious and wholesome, but is usually unable to be sold in retail markets due to missing labels, overproduction, damaged containers, etc. Food drives are an important source of quality food donations and enable the community to be directly involved in ending hunger. Because of the efficiency of the operation and the ability to acquire donated food for just the cost of transportation, the REFB is able to distribute seven dollars' worth of food for each one dollar spent. Sonoma County (primary), Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte Counties.

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Last updated: May 23, 2014
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