[synth music with chorus]


Imperial Valley is located within the Sonoran Desert. Summer temperatures are anywhere from 105 to 115 and it doesn’t get cool at night. There’s only so early you can come to work in the morning in order to avoid the afternoon heat. That made life in our old food bank very difficult. We had no ventilation; our warehouse workers had the unairconditioned part of the warehouse. And there’s nothing but gravel in between them and we’re running forklifts back and forth between these two buildings. We didn’t have a loading dock and the staff that was doing programs stayed in this little, tiny space where we were literally on top of each other.


So, you can do pretty much everything in one room. It was too small; there just wasn’t enough space.

[inspirational music]

The cost of the building itself was getting us to that 6/6.5/7-million-dollar figure. So we started our fundraising, we got to the point where we were 50 percent and we went public with it, and we were discussing phasing the building to build essential warehouse office space and then adding on the things that weren’t essential but necessary. Cause we weren’t gonna build this building for 10 years; this is a 50-yar project. We want this building to be here no matter what happens with hunger in the valley, and we need to really look at how we were gonna raise all that money. So, through some contacts, I learned about New Market Tax Credits. I talked with a consultant, and they introduced us to JPMorgan Chase, who became the funder on the project.

[mysterious music]

There were so many people that doubted that we could do this. $7 million dollars in Imperial County is unheard of. So we’re so grateful to the people who did believe in us, our board, and myself that we were actually able to achieve this. And most of my staff come from low-income backgrounds. Very few of them have ever lived or worked in a new building, and it was a paradigm shift.


When they finished the building, I was really excited. I even cry that day and I say thank you to Sara for making this happen.

[inspirational music swells]


I’m very proud of this building, but I’m really proud of my staff and having them being proud to be in the building. Just…it just warmed my heart.


California’s Imperial County is known for agriculture. Despite this, the county has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation, according to the Imperial Valley Food Bank (IVFB). IVFB has tackled that problem head on, but was constrained by working out of the same facility since its founding in 1991.

That was the case until 2016, when Executive Director Sara Griffen led the effort to build a new facility.

  • Cramped quarters: The programming staff was practically working on top of each other at the food bank’s original location. The facility lacked some essentials, including ventilation, a loading dock and adequate refrigeration. And in an area where temperatures frequently reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit, the warehouse didn’t have air conditioning.
  • Navigating New Markets Tax Credit: Griffen came across the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program in her research and connected with JPMorgan Chase, who provided  $1 million in credits. It took Griffen two months to complete the necessary paperwork. “It was extremely difficult to get everything in place in order to move forward, but it was so completely worth it,” she said.
  • Thinking big: The new 28,000-square-foot space is more than double the old building’s size. The food bank now includes more than 3,500 square feet of cold storage, along with increased security, space for programming and other amenities to help deliver millions of pounds of food annually. Plus, there’s room to grow. “We want this building to be here no matter what happens with hunger in the Valley,” Griffen said.

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