The CRC: Mapping Food Deserts in Placer County

by Tricia Caspers Ross, Placer Community Foundation

Placer Food Bank celebrates the acquisition of its new Mobile Food Pantry with PCF Board Chair, Pam Constantino, and PCF CEO, Veronica Blake.

In fall of 2012, several members of the Placer Collaborative Network met regularly at the Placer Community Foundation (PCF) to brainstorm as to how best to support local food pantries. As a result of these discussions, a task force surveyed 65 local feeding organizations and compiled a report. A few important facts from the report include:

  • 1 in 8 Placer County residents does not know where he or she will find his/her next meal
  • Applications for CalFresh/Food stamps have increased 200 percent in Placer County since 2008
  • Most food pantries lack the refrigeration needed to provide recipients with fresh produce
  • A food desert map was needed to pinpoint areas where pantries are located and where residents lack services
  • A refrigerated truck could be used as a mobile food pantry to deliver fresh produce to local food pantries

Placer Community Foundation supported the Placer Food Bank to work with the CRC to create a food desert map. Using the information that the CRC’s map provided, the food bank was able to map out a delivery schedule for its mobile food truck.

A mobile food truck was purchased in May 2014, with a $43,000 grant from the Placer Community Foundation’s Community Needs Fund. The truck is refrigerated and visits a different community each day, expanding the reach of the Food Bank significantly and removing the need for refrigerators at each food pantry.