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Wishing Cindy Houts a Wonderful Retirement

Alameda Food Bank (AFB) Executive Director Cindy Houts is retiring August 3 after eight years of stellar service to our community. Houts’ tenure was the longest of any executive director in AFB’s 46-year history. Her successor will be long-time Program Manager Teale Harden.

Alameda Post - Teale Harden and Cindy Houts stand side by side with some food at the market
Teale Harden (left) and Cindy Houts. Photo Alameda Food Bank / Facebook.

Throughout her service at the Alameda Food Bank, Houts has always been devoted to recognizing and preserving the dignity of all clients. One of the ways she did that was by offering “an ‘all-choice’ shopping experience,” culminating in the opening of Island Community Market at 650 West Ranger Ave. on Alameda Point. Houts made sure it looks more like a grocery store than a food bank distribution center, “so when a person says, ‘I’m going to the market,’ it’s not like saying, ‘I’m going to the food bank.’ It just feels more normalized,” she said.

At the Island Community Market, clients check in, get a cart, and shop throughout the store at their leisure, just as they would in any other grocery store. The process is radically different from simply being issued a box of groceries selected by a food bank worker. It brings dignity to clients’ experience—and it has dramatically reduced, if not eliminated, food waste.

Her goal was never to simply give out as much food as possible, it was always to provide healthy food, which is why she fought every day for more fresh produce, lean protein, and healthy grains, according to her colleagues. She went beyond just what was available from grocery store donations and the main Alameda County Community Food Bank. “We purchase a lot of produce,” she said.

Houts believed strongly in helping the community at large and forged alliances with many organizations across the island. Today the Alameda Food Bank provides food for the Alameda Housing Authority, Dine and Connect, the Warming Shelter, Village of Love, Dignity Village, Corsair Flats, and the Alameda Unified School District.

During the pandemic, Houts and Harden together worked countless hours to provide drive-through food distribution. They recruited a whole new crew of volunteers who, at the peak of the pandemic, served more than 900 families a day. Their heartfelt dedication was truly remarkable.

Houts transformed the Alameda Food Bank into a successful model for serving the community with dignity, compassion, and generosity.

“We are so grateful for her effort, energy, kindness, and for leaving the organization much stronger than the day she walked into our pantry for the first time eight years ago,” her colleagues wrote on Facebook. “Thank you, Cindy. Enjoy your next chapter.”

The Post joins our entire community in thanking her and wishing well for the future.

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