This month we are launching a new feature in the WVCS Blog highlighting WVCS team members. We kick off this month with a conversation with Toni Concepcion, Manager of Food Pantry Operations.
How did you come to work at WVCS?
I was a chef and Cafeteria Catering Manager in the Bay Area for a corporate food service company for 33 years. In that role I fed many employees of Silicon Valley's tech companies, medical centers and financial institutions. But when I found an advertisement for the WVCS Food Pantry Manager, it really interested me and I thought I would take a chance.
That’s quite a career shift. What was your motivation?
Outside of my day job I have always been involved with feeding the hungry. Twenty years ago a group of chef friends and I would go every other Sunday to cook for Loaves and Fishes, feeding around 650 people each time. In fact, we were given the Loaves and Fishes Volunteers of the Year Award for 1983-1984. Those Sunday mornings were also a form of personal pay-it-forward: at the time my brother was unhoused and I was hoping that if I fed someone, someone would in turn feed him. Thankfully, he is no longer unhoused and is doing well.
What is your role in the Market Pantry?
I am in charge of overseeing all aspects of procuring and distributing food and supplies at the Vista Market and the Park-It Market. That includes overseeing the quality and quantity of food delivered and/or purchased, estimating required volumes of meat, milk, eggs and other items delivered to the Park-It Market for distribution each day, and working closely with our compassionate and dedicated volunteers. I also oversee our partnerships with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, and all of the grocery stores that donate food for our markets, including Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, and Ranch 99. In addition, I coordinate food drives with churches, service organizations, local businesses, Boy/Girl Scouts, and postal carriers. Last year, we received more than 75,000 pounds of items from food drives, which has helped us meet increased demand for food from clients, as inflation and increased food and gas costs have made it harder for them to stretch their monthly income to feed their families.
Anything else you would like us to know?
My favorite part of my job is the commitment of the staff and volunteers to help take care of our community. I also like to think that through my work in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors, I’ve had the chance to feed almost everyone in Silicon Valley. It's an honor to do this work, and I am thankful to have this opportunity.