FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) -The Central California Food Bank is using new equipment to better serve families in need. The technology will help them distribute more fresh produce.

“This is gonna revolutionize the way that we’re providing a service,” said Natalie Caples, food bank Co-CEO.

The center is debuting a new pack line. Caples said it is the first of its kind used in a food bank in California.

“We’ll be able to take bulk produce that’s donated from some of our amazing agricultural partners here in Central California, and using this line we will be able to re-pack that product into smaller, household size quantities.”

This will alleviate the burden of additional volunteers at partner sites who manually pack the product.

“A donated produce bin can weigh anywhere between 5-800 lbs. We can sort through that product in about 20 minutes or so with volunteers on sight, and that may take agencies hours to manually sort and bag with a couple of volunteers.”

The Central California Food Bank partners with organizations like the Fresno State Student Cupboard, Catholic Charities, Saint Rest Baptist Church, among others.

“We have a network of over 200 member partners and over 300 feeding sites in our five-county service area,” said Caples.

The equipment debuts at a time when families are struggling to bounce back from the pandemic.

“Our food bank has seen a roughly 35-40 percent increase of neighbors that are seeking food assistance.”

The pack line was donated by the Ricchiuti family of PR Farms in 2019.

“Really an exciting day where we see the equipment that we donated come to fruition,” said Pat Ricchiuti.

The equipment was retrofitted to fit the food bank’s needs, and now it’s ready to provide more fruits and vegetables to Central Valley families.

“There are people that are truly in need, and that’s what we’re supposed to do,” said Ricchiuti.