There’s plenty to sip and savor at Palm Desert Food & Wine. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many who call the Coachella Valley home, and the festival is bringing the reality of food insecurity into the spotlight.
Across the valley, tens of thousands of people do not have consistent access to nutritious, affordable food. For the second consecutive year, FIND Food Bank, a nonprofit that provides food assistance and essentials to those in need through a network of agency members, will be the sole charitable partner of this three-day culinary event, with each ticket purchased providing 35 meals for local residents.
FIND’s 36,000-square-foot warehouse in Indio is where fresh produce and packaged goods are gathered for inspection, sorting, and delivery to partners and standalone distribution sites. FIND relies on thousands of volunteers to help prepare the approximately 10 million pounds of food it distributes annually.
“Hunger is a community problem that requires a community solution,” says Chantel Schuering, FIND’s community relations director.
In this case, “community” extends beyond the everyday definition: Many who donate or volunteer are visitors who come to the Coachella Valley for an event or vacation and wish to engage in service opportunities while they’re here. She recalls, for instance, a group of visiting tax lawyers who passed a hat around at lunch and raised almost $3,000, which they donated to the food bank.
In the last year alone, the number of volunteers increased by about 1,200 to nearly 4,800. (Meanwhile, the needs of local residents have remained steady.)
Partnerships are crucial to fostering the rise in engagement. This year, FIND teamed with the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is running campaigns to connect visitors to the food bank as a first choice for volunteerism.
“The tourism industry recognizes the importance and critical role that FIND Food Bank plays for our community,” says Scott White, president and CEO of the bureau. “We are dedicated to working with them more closely in 2018 to help find solutions.”
“It’s easy to come here and vacation and forget that this place has its problems,” Schuering adds. “We are making an imprint on visitors that everyone in our valley is connected here to a greater purpose.”
Attendees of PDFW will be reminded of that greater purpose upon their arrival. The FIND team will be stationed in vendor tents, handing out free California dates, courtesy of the Date Commission. Sharing this local product with visitors embodies the spirit of the food festival and the spirit of giving that FIND Food Bank and its partners encourage in others.
How FIND Food Bank is making a difference.
pounds of produce distributed annually
people served by FIND Food Bank each month
meals provided by the purchase of 2017 Palm Desert Food & Wine tickets
hours of volunteer time racked up in 2016–2017
1 in 5
people in the Coachella Valley without access to adequate amounts of food
meals provided with each Palm Desert Food & Wine ticket sold in 2018