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By Vanessa Showalter

OCSS:  Please describe the food need in Orange County?

Lowry:  In Orange County, hunger is a symptom of poverty. Over one half million Orange County residents have insufficient financial resources to meet their most basic needs. A few of these people are homeless, more are persons with disabilities, and a larger number are unemployed. Most of these people are vulnerable seniors on fixed incomes and people who work full time in low paying jobs. After paying their rent or mortgage, they have to make difficult choices regarding which bills to pay, because they do not have enough money to satisfy all of their needs. They may skip meals, purchase inexpensive processed food that is unhealthy, or seek help from a food bank.

OCSS:  How has the Orange County Food Bank made a difference? Date of inception?

Lowry:  The Orange County Food Bank was established in 1965 as part of the ‘War on Poverty.’ The Orange County Food Bank distributes nearly 20 million pounds of food each year, feeding an average of 165,000 people each month.

OCSS:  Who do you serve?

Lowry:  The Orange County Food Bank’s primary customers are other charities. The Food Bank provides food and personal hygiene items to 375 churches, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers, community centers, and social service organizations. In addition to the food that the Food Bank provides to other charitable organizations, we distribute nutritionally balanced food boxes directly to 1,400 vulnerable seniors each day.

OCSS:  What is your goal for 2012?

Lowry:  The goal of the Orange County Food Bank for 2012 is to help fill the gap between our available resources and the needs of the community.

OCSS:  How do you house so much food? And where is it stored?

Lowry:  The Orange County Food Bank is housed in a 60,000 square foot warehouse in Garden Grove. The Food Bank manages a fleet of trucks, operates forklifts, a huge commercial refrigerator/freezer, and other equipment that enables the Food Bank to pick-up, store and distribute nearly 20 million pounds of food each year.

OCSS:  I hear the Orange County Food Bank is being supported by the Taste of Orange County™ — what does this partnership mean to you and your organization?

Lowry:  The Orange County Food Bank appreciates the opportunity to partner with the Taste of Orange County™. The event organizers are socially conscious and are committed to contributing to the wellbeing of the community. Event organizations are engaged in cause related marketing, featuring the Orange County Food Bank in all of their event promotions.  Specifically, the Taste of Orange County™ is sharing the proceeds from their event with the Food Bank, providing their patrons an opportunity to make a financial donation to the Food Bank.  In addition, the organizers are donating food left over from the event to the Food Bank. Further, Taste of Orange County™ organizers are introducing the Food Bank to like-minded individuals who may be predisposed to want to become engaged in supporting the good work of the Orange County Food Bank in unique and creative ways.

OCSS:  In your opinion, why is this event important to bring back to Orange County?

Lowry:  The Taste of Orange County™ was an iconic annual event. Loyal patrons of that event knew that they would consistently be provided excellent food, quality entertainment, and an exciting opportunity for social interaction in the midst of a great party. Several cities have terrific ‘Taste of’ events, but there is only one Taste of Orange County™.   Please join me at this year’s event during Father’s Day weekend (June 16 – June 17).

The Orange County Food Bank is a program of the Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC), a Garden Grove-based private charity.  Additional information is available at www.ocfoodbank.org.  To support the Orange County Food Bank through the Taste of Orange County, please visit www.tasteofoc.com.