Santa Rosa food bank brings in million pounds of fire relief

Those in need of food assistance because of the North Bay firestorms, like this woman on Oct. 15, 2017, come to pick up groceries at several pop-up tents in front of Santa Rosa's Redwood Empire Food Bank, nicknamed "Station 3990" during the relief campaign. (REDWOOD EMPIRE FOOD BANK)



Thousands of evacuated family members and those who lost homes in the North Bay’s devastating wildfires have received more than a million pounds of vital victuals from Redwood Empire Food Bank’s emergency campaign, but organizers say they still need nonperishables.

The largest hunger-relief organization in Northern California, the food bank set up a drive-through center — called Station 3990 — where individuals and groups can come to deliver food to aid fire victims and others in need during the wildfires sparked Oct. 9 and in the days that followed.

As of Oct. 19, about 740,000 pounds of food have been distributed through the food bank’s 12 hunger-relief programs, and 460,000 pounds of food from individual donors have been taken to North Bay emergency evacuation centers and shelters. Tons of food, including large-format quantities and prepared, ready-to-eat meals, have been received from Bay Area food banks, the California Association of Food Banks, Feeding America, the California Departments of Social Services and Education, as well as from corporate and individual donors throughout the Bay Area.

“The Redwood Empire Food Bank works to end hunger in our community by making adequate nutrition assistance available and accessible to anyone in need of help,” said Allison Goodwin, director of programs at Redwood Empire Food Bank. “The devastating fires in our region have resulted in increased demand for food assistance. We launched Station 3990 in response to this need.”

In addition to providing food for fire victims, the food bank also was able to provide food to 70 percent of its regular distribution sites in Sonoma County and throughout its service area through its network of 160-plus partner organizations.

“We still need donations as we continue to provide food to all of our neighbors impacted by the fires,” said Maggie Sowell, communications manager. “At one point, as many as 400 people an hour were coming to our main distribution facility or calling our Food Connections office. Thanks to our many food donations everyone was served and no one was ever turned away.”

The generosity of partner Bay Area food banks and scores of local residents who stepped up and answered the call for food and volunteers at the Redwood Empire Food Bank has been outstanding, according to CEO David Goodman.

Food items received include poultry, fresh produce, bread, canned and packaged products, snacks, tortillas, water bottles, sugar-free beverages.

Additional food donations — especially nonperishable items — are still needed. They can be taken to the parking lot in back of the building (adjacent to the agency store), where staff members are available to receive contributions. After being sorted, food is taken to pop-up tents along the road in front of the center where those in need can drive in and pick up supplies.

The Station 3990 food drive is named for the nonprofit’s street address at 3990 Brickway Blvd., just off Airway Drive in the Airport Business Center. It will remain in operation as long as the need exists and funding is available, according to Sowell. The special distribution center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Oct. 22 and will continue next week. She said the organization’s Value Market and the Food Connections remain open during their regular hours.

The food bank will announce updated days and times for future Station 3990 operations Sunday afternoon or Monday morning via its website (, 707-523-7903) and Facebook page (

“We worked quickly to assemble the resources necessary to make emergency food available to those directly impacted by this disaster,” Goodwin said. “And while Station 3990 is serving those directly affected by the fires, REFB continues to make food resources available to anyone in our community who is facing hunger.”

The food bank serves more than 82,000 people from Sonoma County to the Oregon border.