Food banks are “staring down the barrel of a food cliff in December,” according to Natalie Caples, who leads the Central California Food Bank and testified at a recent state Senate committee hearing on food assistance.

To stem this tide, Caples is looking to rebuild agricultural relationships disrupted by the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

“We initially saw a surge in donated fresh produce from farmers and our agricultural partners, as they saw food service contracts being cancelled,” she explained. “But unfortunately, that was pretty short lived.”

By June, those farmers had turned instead to federal relief and other markets. Yet food banks have faced continued pressure on the supply chain. Federal support for food programs, meanwhile, will end Dec. 31.

“For our food bank, that means roughly a loss of over 1.6 million pounds of food — or 78,000 food boxes — lost because of this program sunsetting,” Caples said.