North Highlands Food Bank in Danger of Closing

NORTH HIGHLANDS -- A church-based food bank is in danger of closing after serving residents of North Highlands, Antelope and Foothill Farms for nearly 40 years.

The North Highlands Christian Food Ministry was started by nine local churches to provide food to a growing population of hungry residents. It operated out of the First Baptist Church on Watt Avenue.

But since it started, several of the churches have closed and congregations are aging and shrinking. The current home can no longer support the three-day-a-week operation that serves around 500 local families and 100 homeless people in the area.

Many of its 30 volunteers have no affiliation with any of the churches. Food bank client Dan Kobler, who recently became disabled, feeds his family with his once-a-month allotment of groceries. He can't believe the food bank could close at the end of October.

"There's very few places we could still go without standing out on a corner and saying we need money for food," said Kobler.

Food bank Volunteer Director Earl Shamblin said the operation is funded solely through donations, which are used to purchase inexpensive food on sale to supplement government surplus food items.

He said the last resort is to try to rent the 1,500 square feet he needs to keep operating, but that means less money for food purchases.

"You don't get the same amount (of donations) every month, so you really don't have a budget," said Shamblin.

Other churches in the area have been contacted, but none has the space to spare.

Members of the Sacramento Board of Supervisors said they would look, but at this point Shamblin is hoping that a benefactor will come through in the next few weeks and offer some space for the food bank.

Shamblin isn't alone.

"We just got to hope that somebody out there will help them out and give them a place to continue doing what they're doing," said Kobler.