With this issue, we launch a new page that gives you a quick snapshot of a North Bay resident we think you should know. Our inaugural subject is the energetic David Goodman, ED of the REFB, a nonprofit that serves some 78,000 hungry Sonoma County residents each month. Last September, the REFB launched its Value Market, a grocery store just for low-income shoppers that models all the best aspects of high-end markets, from its look and feel to the quality of its goods and customer service. An avid theater-goer and yoga practitioner, Goodman has led the REFB for 19 years.
How did you come to the REFB?
After a career in the film business, I applied with 200 entities, everything from the CIA to the Food Bank. Truly. I’m very interested in many different things. And the San Francisco Food Bank took an interest, probably because I had been working for a couple years with Niman Ranch. Looking back, I figure they probably thought I was a good source of protein. I know how these food bankers think! So they hired me.
That being said, I now recognize how special it is to be in a position to help so many people. I consider it a privilege to be a food banker. And, to be accompanied by an engaged board, dedicated colleagues, and generous donors and volunteers—what could be better?
The Value Market is nearing its first anniversary. How is it going?
It is going great. We’re growing a business, which is always a challenge. Every week, we are increasing the number of customers and sales. All the while we are improving our product assortments. Everything just gets better. A year from now, we’ll be dangerously close to breaking even. As a nonprofit grocery store, that is the measure of success.
It’s a point of pride that the Value Market is being considered for replication in other areas across the country. People call us about it all the time. Our donors are excited to see us engaged in the multitude of ways that we respond to hunger, food insecurity, health, and nutrition. When a customer says, ‘Thank you for being here,’ it makes it all worthwhile.
What is the next new initiative?
Our latest program is the Diabetes Wellness Program. We are leading the work in making a connection between diabetes and food insecurity. We have a nurse on staff who offers blood sugar tests to food recipients. If they have a high likelihood of being diabetic, we refer them to a medical clinic. If the clinic meets someone who has diabetes and is food insecure, they refer them to the food program. We have over 400 people participating in the program now. It is really important that when people gather enough courage to ask for food assistance, that we can provide them with the help they need.
What is your summer lunch program like this year?
This year, we have 48 locations throughout the county where low-income children can get a free summer lunch. The program is in its 11th year. When we started, there were only 4,000 meals being served throughout the summer in the entire county. We are now providing 5,000 in a week. By the end of the summer, we’ll have provided more than 90,000 meals to children. The most important part of this program is ensuring that when school begins, children have a better opportunity return healthy and strong.
How do you spend your time outside of the office?
I consider myself to be an outdoorsman. I enjoy camping, fishing, and hunting with my dog, Olive. Sometimes I laugh at myself because my interests are so varied. When I get off the lake or out of the field, I can be found sewing clothing or practicing yoga.
You go to Ashland often. What’s the best thing you’ve recently seen?
Hands down, The Unfortunates. There is also a great play that just opened on Broadway called All the Way, about LBJ, and that is also fantastic. It premiered in Ashland and went straight to Broadway. This fall I have tickets to The Great Society, which is a continuation of Johnson’s story.
And finally, if you had your druthers, REFB would be . . .
Understood by everyone as to our necessity and value in the community.