This petition addresses two serious issues in Napa County with one action. We have hungry people in Napa County and a political system that is in the process of campaign reform. Is there a way for these issues to intersect for the benefit of all?
Napa County Board of Supervisors recently voted on March 23, 2021, to observe California State law regarding campaign contributions that went into effect January 2021. “A person may not make to a candidate or the candidate’s controlled committee, and a candidate or the candidate’s controlled committee may not accept from a person, any contribution or series of contributions totaling more than the per election amount permitted [$4900] in Cal. Gov. Code § 85301(a), as adjusted by the Fair Political Practices Commission pursuant to Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations § 18544.” The full ordinance may be read here, known as Item 7J.
At the same time as this important campaign reform which may help our elected officials be less influenced by big donors, COVID-19 has caused a lot of food insecurity for our local communities. Community Action Napa Valley/Napa Valley Food Bank and Catholic Charities have stepped up to help alleviate that insecurity. According to our sources at the Napa Valley Food Bank, need has more than tripled during the pandemic. Whilst the County did give them some funds, they were restricted to “food only,” meaning they had to advocate fiercely to use a chunk of these funds to pay for the rent of their warehouse. Nothing could be used to pay for staff or other operational needs.
Every day, our grocery stores, including Target, Safeway, Lucky’s, Cara’s Cupcakes, Sweetie Pies, Model Bakery, Nob Hill, Raley’s, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Walmart, donate food. Additionally, government donations from the USDA go to warehouse distribution centers which then make their way to our neighborhoods. We have a lot of food being distributed to a number of families, and yet that number of those in need has multiplied three to four times.
Napa Valley Food Bank currently employs 10 staff people under the direction of local hero, Shirley King. Four full-time and six part-time people are paid between $18-22/hr. There are currently 209 volunteers assisting with all the various pre-assembly and food distributions, but many of them are over 60 and had to step back. What’s really needed is more paid staff as well as better wages. This is one of our services that has had to amp up, not quiet down, during the pandemic. These people serving at our food banks are on the front lines. These people are our heroes.
Households no longer register annually and visit their local food pantry once a month to choose various foods based on their household size and dietary needs. In these difficult times, people can come as often as they like. Because of the great need, our food bank is overwhelmed. We’d like to help alleviate not only the burden of finances for food but also the staff.
We are asking all five of the supervisors to donate their remaining funds to the Napa Food Bank, thereby leveling the playing field for future elections and providing an essential service to our community. Not only does this provide needed funds for this most important service in our county, but it also levels the playing field in the next supervisor elections. A supervisor who has a large sum left over from donations, including many contributions that far exceed the new $4,900 figure has an unfair advantage over any new candidate challenging him or her. Here are the current supervisors, district numbers, and their balances:
Brad Wagenknecht (1) $10,030.32, Ryan Gregory (2) $68,065.57, Diane Dillon (3), $13,011.00, Alfredo Pedroza (4) $69,203.59 , and Belia Ramos (5) $486.02.
This is a potential $160,796.50 for our local food banks.
If each of the five supervisors returned their funds to the community, our food bank could afford to hire more staff, either full or part-time with the longevity needed to ride out this pandemic and maybe even give them a bonus to say Thank You.
Maybe you are not political, or maybe you feel you cannot sign due to your professional position in our community, but our ask is simple. We need fair elections and we need food. By signing the petition, we are letting our Board of Supervisors (BOS) know that we’d like them to donate their remaining campaign funds to the Napa Food Bank, with unrestricted use. The timing could not be better since we’ve adopted the new State rules for campaign financing. Let’s level the playing field while also showing gratitude to some of our front-line workers.
If you are working either as paid staff or a volunteer in our food bank, our deepest gratitude to you.
To donate to our local food bank, please visit: