A healthy competition among employees at Chevron Richmond has led to massive donations of healthy foods to community members in need.
Thirty years ago, now-retired Chevron employee Mark Okazaki and fellow colleagues launched a small food drive that led to the donation of 200 pounds of food in each of its first two years.
In the third year, Okazaki upped the ante when he received the green light from management to make the food drive a friendly competition among employee divisions. That year, the food drive raised 10 times the amount of pounds as the first two years, he said.
“We set up teams, and it kind of grew from there,” he added.
In this year’s competition, which culminated with a weigh-in at the Richmond Refinery on Oct. 2, a total of 304,553 pounds of food were donated as part of the food drive. It marked the fifth straight year the food drive has exceeded 300,000 pounds. To date, nearly 4 million pounds have been donated.
Recipients of the donated foods are local organizations providing servicing local residents in need, including the Bay Area Rescue Mission (BARM), Greater Richmond Interfaith Program and the Richmond Emergency Food Pantry.
“Chevron has been doing a great job raising awareness and helping the Rescue Mission,” said John Anderson, president and CEO of the BARM. “[The donated food] goes a long ways in helping us to feed homeless and hurting and hungry men, boys, women and girls.”
BARM preps most of the food for service in its dining room, but also distributes it to hungry families in the shelter and out in the community, Anderson said.
The successful food drive also promotes community bonding with the Chevron Richmond employees and the community. The program features a multitude of fundraising events including sales of rootbeer floats, pizza, tacos, and a bake sale and food truck festival. Food Drive collection barrels are placed across the Richmond facility. Since 2011, it has also featured a food festival at the Refinery with games and other fun activities.
Okazaki retired nearly a year ago, but he returned to attend the food festival in order to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
“I look back and am glad it’s continuing,” he said. “Hopefully it can last another 30 years or so.”