The food bank was started in 2001, after the closure of Northwestern Steel and Wire Co., Lawrence Brothers, and National Manufacturing increased demands on local food pantries. When the mill closed, Carol Siefken lost her job in computer finance.
The United Way of Whiteside County formed a committee and approached the River Bend Food Bank to see whether the area needed a food bank of its own.
From there, the Sauk Valley Foodbank started with a card table, a desk lamp, paper and pencil, and two pallets of food donated by the United Way of Sterling-Rock Falls (now the United Way of Whiteside County).
It doesn’t provide food directly to those in need, but to pantries and other agencies. Any 501(c)3 group that gives away food can buy from the food bank, which pays 7 cents per pound for the food and sells it to the groups for 18 cents per pound.
Area gardeners and businesses – such as Selmi’s Greenhouse and Farm Market in Rock Falls, Mitchell Melons in Tampico, and Blue Freedom Farm Market Inc. in Sterling – also donate to the food bank.