Each year, the Board of Directors of the AIA Redwood Empire (AIARE) gathers for a retreat to strategize and plan for the coming year. This year as the current AIARE President, I organized the retreat that was held at the new Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) facility in Santa Rosa. In addition to supporting and partnering with an essential community assistance organization by renting the REFB boardroom for the day, the AIARE board members were also able to take time during the retreat to do some volunteer work in the warehouse. Our group enthusiastically worked on sorting carrots from a pair of 1,700 pound palettes into 3 pound bags to get them ready for distribution to families in need.
After volunteering, the AIARE board members were led on a tour of the facility by the architect, Julie Jackson, AIA of Jackson Liles Architecture in San Francisco, and by a former President of the REFB Board of Directors, Alan Butler, AIA of TLCD Architecture. Alan was board member of the REFB at a time when they had outgrown their old facility. Alan helped write the program for the innovative new facility after touring a number of food banks across the country to see what worked and what didn’t. As a result, the new facility includes elements that do more than just store and distribute food, like a small market for low income customers and a commercial kitchen that supports new programs like “upcycling” bulk foods, and culinary education for the community.
The REFB is the food distribution hub for over 175 food related non-profits and distributes almost 14 million pound of food to the region each year. They offer their conference facilities at a very reasonable rate to non-profits in order to expose their operation to a wider audience. Check out the REFB if your non-profit needs a meeting space!