Nov. 15, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. - UC Davis men's and women's basketball are partnering with the Yolo Food Bank for its annual canned food drive. Fans who donate a canned or non-perishable food item on Nov. 26 will have the opportunity to purchase a $5 general admission ticket to watch the women battle San Jose State at 4:45 p.m., or the men take on Causeway rival Sacramento State at 7 p.m. inside The Pavilion.
"The food bank values the relationships we have with the university and are always appreciative of UC Davis' support. Those who participated in last year's drive were outstanding because they brought the kinds of food that we requested, and needed," said Kevin Sanchez, executive director of the Yolo Food Bank.
Last year, fans generously donated over 315 pounds of items to Yolo Food Bank, located in Woodland, Calif., for direct use by more than 35,000 county residents who are considered food-insecure. Through the organization's direct distribution programs, the Food Bank is able to provide nutritious food, fresh fruits and vegetables to children, families and seniors.
"Yolo County residents do a phenomenal job supporting UC Davis, which is why we are excited to team up with the Yolo Food Bank to show our appreciation in return," said men's basketball head coach Jim Les.
Added UC Davis women's basketball head coach Jennifer Gross, "Not only will the event feature a fun-filled night of basketball from the men's and women's team, but our fans will have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the Food Bank's efforts to provide assistance to children and families in need."
In Yolo County, one in five people, and one in four children suffer from food insecurity-not knowing where their next meal will come from. By partnering with local farmers, ranchers, and organizations like UC Davis men's and women's basketball throughout the year, donations received from events like this month's food drive benefit those who rely on nutritional assistance provided by the Food Bank through its programs.
In addition to its Holiday Food Distribution, a program that helps feed over 15,000 individuals throughout the months of November, December and March, the Food Bank also provides emergency food to approximately 10,000 low-income households through its Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Research shows that people living in rural areas experience higher rates of poverty and lack access to fresh, nutritious foods. These areas tend to lack emergency food providers and resources for people who need them. To provide people in remote areas with ongoing access to healthy foods, the Yolo Food Bank builds 25-pound food boxes each month that contain a variety of grocery items as part of its Rural Food Delivery program.
Children's Harvest, another innovative program designed to address the unique needs of food insecure families, provides families with children ages five years and under the opportunity to receive approximately 10 pounds of fresh produce twice per month. Combined with the Kids Farmers Market, the Food Bank is developing proactive programs to provide hungry children with fresh and nutritious food.
By providing continual access to fresh fruits and vegetables through an engaging and interactive farmers market-style afterschool program, Yolo's youth is provided an opportunity to sample produce that may otherwise be unavailable to them through traditional means. At these events, children are given Food Bank currency that allows them to purchase food to take home.
"Not only are these programs good for the soul, but they are also beneficial for families who may not have the chance to obtain fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables. Ninety to 100 percent of the produce is grown and produced locally; farmers who provide these in-kind donations often participate at these events, provide samples of their product and teach children various ways of using their newly-purchased products," said Sanchez.
More than 1,000 Yolo County students participate in these child-centric programs each week throughout the school year, opportunities that are designed to meet the needs of children who live in poverty-14 pct. of the county's population-and qualify for free, or reduced meal programs (27 pct.) at their respective schools.
Thanks to the Yolo Food Bank, thousands of local residents will benefit from the generosity of men's and women's basketball fans that bring canned or non-perishable food items with them to The Pavilion on Nov. 26.
"UC Davis embodies what a community is all about, so I know we will use this opportunity to directly impact so many people in our area," said Gross.
"In addition to academics and athletics, Coach Gross and I want to create a culture that emphasizes the importance of supporting those who are less fortunate, or in need," said Les. "Events like this are a great way for our programs, and our fans, to support a worthy organization."
Individuals who are interested in volunteering for, or donating their time and/or additional items are encouraged to visit the Yolo Food Bank's website at www.yolofoodbank.org.