Feeding Families through the Power of Solar

Bread, milk, fruit, veggies, beans, cereal…some of the items that may make their way to our grocery lists. For most, selecting these items is fairly accessible. Sacramento County provides many choices for shoppers to gather these items with a variety of stores to shop at, brands to purchase and local farms supplying fresh produce; however, many families still have food insecurities. In Sacramento County, 15.6% (230,210) of residents are food insecure, which is four percent higher than California as a whole.  Thankfully, organizations such as our local food banks offer support to ensure these families have access to the food they need. Organizations like the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank serving over 1,000 families each month.

In February, GRID Alternatives North Valley, installed a 10.6 kW system for the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank which is expected to save the nonprofit $56,000 over the lifetime of the system. The 2,000 square foot building holds enough dry goods to serve their 1,000 monthly beneficiaries as well as a “shopping” room where refrigerated items can be selected. Executive Director, Keith Wright, also recently acquired a commercial refrigeration system in a unique shipping container set up. The solar system will primarily help to offset the facility's high refrigeration costs and help the Food Bank provide meals to more families in the area. “It’s difficult for nonprofits to find support that can help reduce critical operation costs such as electricity,” Keith shared during the installation.


The project was completed through a partnership between GRID Alternatives North Valley, the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank, Rotary Clubs of Fair Oaks and Orangevale, and SMUD. The Rotary Clubs of Fair Oaks and Orangevale had already completed several projects at the Food Bank's property. During the Spring of 2018, the clubs inquired the current needs of the Food Bank. When high electrical costs were shared, Rotarians contacted GRID Alternatives North Valley to advise on solar feasibility at the site. The Rotary Clubs of Fair Oaks and Orangevale selected the solar installation as their annual project and covered sixty percent of costs from grants through both clubs. SMUD sponsored the remaining costs of the project, allowing GRID to provide the installation at no-cost to the Food Bank. “We are proud to give back to our community in meaningful ways that increase energy efficiency and save money at the same time,” said Erik Krause, Director of Retail Product Delivery and Sales for SMUD.  “This solar project will allow the Food Bank to increase service to those in greatest need.  I can’t think of a better partnership.”

GRID Alternatives led the installation using our unique volunteer and workforce development model, providing commercial solar training for participants in GRID’s SolarCorps fellowship program, a 13-month paid job training program. The install was also completed with the help of Rotarian volunteers. Over the two-day installation, twenty volunteers from the Fair Oaks and Orangevale Rotary Clubs helped to complete the project.  

We thank everyone who contributed to this project and are thrilled for the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank to benefit from their new system.