Hot Off the Press: Our 2021 Impact Report

We are proud to share our 2021 Impact Report with you! 

2020 was a year defined by extraordinary growth – saying yes to new partnerships, yes to new sourcing opportunities, yes to serving everyone who came to our door. In 2021, our staff and volunteers worked hard to maintain these new-found relationships and opportunities, and to grow them in ways that benefited our clients – increasing access to  healthy food in our community through our growing network of partnerships. We are so proud of what we accomplished in 2021.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

  • We increased the number of people we serve each week from 5,000 community members in December 2020 to over 6,000 in December 2021.
  • We increased the amount of food we distributed from 1.25 million pounds in 2020 to 1.9 million in 2021.
  • We grew our food recovery work from 294,000 pounds of excess food recovered from local businesses in 2020 to 645,533 pounds recovered in 2021. Through these efforts we prevented 575 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

None of this would be possible without you. You, the supporters of our work – as volunteers, donors, and community ambassadors – enable us to continue to grow and meet the need for access to nutritious food in our community. Your compassion, your generosity, and your belief in our mission are the fuel that keeps us going.

These past two years have been defined by extraordinary circumstances. 2022 is no exception. We have outlined lofty goals in our impact report, and will work hard to achieve them while also navigating increasing inflation, loss of federal COVID benefits, an historic drought, and supply shortages. Our clients are feeling these economic and environmental impacts deeply. We’ve been serving even more of our nutrition-insecure community members every week since the beginning of 2022 and are working hard to ensure that we have enough healthy food to give them. 

If you are receiving this newsletter, you have played a role in the success and growing strength of this organization. For that, we are immensely grateful. We want to invite you to continue engaging in our work – to make sure that during these extraordinary times our clients do not have to make impossible decisions between feeding their families healthy food and filling their gas tanks. 

Yours in partnership to end hunger in our community,

Sara Webber, Executive Director
May 20, 2022

Please read below to learn more about the wonderful people who support our work and values.

BFN Value Highlight:

Sustainability in Action!

At Berkeley Food Network, we strive to build a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable food system. Sustainability is one of our core values, guiding the work we do on a daily basis. This is how we put sustainability into practice. 

Through our Sourcing Program, we procure 60% of our food in an environmentally responsible way. Our small, but growing, Responsible Producers Program invests in local, BIPOC farms that are employing regenerative and organic growing practices. In this way, we limit the environmental impact of transporting food long distances and contribute to building healthy soil that will continue to grow food for years to come. Our Food Recovery Program – through which we source over half of our food – prevents edible food from going into the waste stream. When food ends up in the landfill, it generates methane and directly contributes to climate change. By rescuing this food, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide our clients with more healthy, nutritious food! 

We are also committed to being a sustainable business. Our staff-led Green Committee strives to make improvements within our operations. In December 2021, their efforts paid off when the Green Committee successfully secured an Alameda County Green Business Certification! This process included switching all our cleaning products to Green Seal Certified or other non-toxic products, ensuring that all our appliances are energy efficient, and understanding the carbon footprint of our business. We are continuing to improve by implementing more consistent and clear waste stations in our warehouse and creating a bike commuter program since so many staff already bike to work! 

We are committed to sustainability in all facets of our work and we are excited to continue improving our practices each day. Thank you for your support in making this work possible. 

Volunteer Spotlight:

Annie Alcott

What’s your favorite shift at BFN?
I’ve loved every shift I’ve tried but especially love working on the pantry shift. I enjoy connecting with our clients as well as working with great volunteer teams. My dear friend and former colleague Julie B. encouraged me to come to BFN. And in turn, I have encouraged my niece Angela F. to volunteer as well. Over time as I volunteer, I find that I am deepening my own understanding about food insecurity in our community. I am always blown away by the quality, variety, and quantity of food options BFN is able to offer. We have such generous donors and SUCH an amazing, dedicated BFN staff. I always leave the warehouse feeling humbled…and tired!

What’s your favorite food to cook / place to eat?
Of course I love food! I live in Berkeley! As a transplant to California (okay 30+ years ago), I still rejoice at the produce we have available to us here. We are lucky beyond measure. I cook a lot, mostly vegetarian meals. I love to shop at Monterey Market and Berkeley Bowl. I live in walking distance of Trader Joe’s – so handy. I also love the many restaurants and bakeries in Berkeley – The Cheeseboard Collective is one of my go-to spots, as is Picante. For very special occasions I love Iyasare.

What else keeps you busy?
I was a teacher for 30 years. I taught in elementary classrooms in Berkeley and Albany for most of my career. Over the last few years I have developed hearing loss and eventually had to go on disability after 15 months of pandemic teaching. It’s hard to hear those Kindergarteners when they are wearing masks in a noisy classroom. Since then, I have been figuring out who I am if I’m not a teacher – an identity crisis in my mid-50s. Volunteering at BFN has been great for me. I have also been trying out that “self-care” thing everyone talks about but that teachers never have time to actually do. I have been swimming, doing pilates, taking long walks with my husband and our dog Lola, volunteering with an educational non-profit, diving into embroidery projects, and writing about teaching. I love to spend time with my family and my friends, the stupid pandemic notwithstanding.

Staff Spotlight:

Nate Redinbo & Emma Greenberg-Bell

Our warehouse team has been growing! Two great additions have been Nate and Emma. Nate is our Operations Administrative Associate and Emma is an Operations Associate. Together, and in tandem with our other warehouse staff, Nate and Emma keep the warehouse running smoothly, working with our volunteers to make sure we are getting as much healthy, high-quality food out to clients as we can! Read more about these two below: 

What is your role at BFN?Emma: I work with volunteers supporting our bagging program where we make bags of produce, non-perishable items and custom boxes to be delivered directly to our partners and clients. I also support general warehouse operations to keep everything running smoothly. 
Nate: I work with shoppers to help get food to various partner organizations. I also work on receiving, making sure we get deliveries of food that can go out to clients and partners. 

What brings you to this work?
Emma: I love the way food brings people together and is a unifying necessity. I feel grateful to be able to do work that keeps our community nourished and connected. 

Nate: We all need food, and it feels good to help get food to people in my community. Not only are we distributing great fresh produce, but we are also fighting emissions from food waste. 

What’s your favorite food in the warehouse?
Emma: I love seeing the random items we get in tiny quantities and huge quantities. These have included thousands of pounds of vegetable broth and a small bunch of banana leaves. The range of items always keeps me on my toes. 

Nate: I’m happy we offer so many delicious veggies. I am constantly learning about new kinds of produce here!