Archive for April, 2009

Plant a Row for the Hungry

Join the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune, and the Contra Costa Master Gardeners in their project “Our Garden”. The goal of “Our Garden” is to teach others how to grow vegetables in your own gardens, using environmentally responsible methods (from the Oakland Tribune website). They will be donating produce grown in the garden to the Food Bank and you can too! To learn more about Plant a Row, visit our website.

How does the Food Bank feed people in need?

The Food Bank distributes emergency and supplemental food to people in need and local charities. Each week we will focus on a different program and talk about what the program is and what kind of food is distributed through each program. Read on to learn about our Food For Children Program.

What is Food For Children (FFC)?
The program serves children who have been rolled off of the federal government’s WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program (for children aged 4 and under), but have not yet begun school, where they are eligible for free breakfast and/or lunch through the federally subsidized school meal programs. The program complements the efforts of the WIC program and is heartily endorsed by WIC staff, who make referrals to the FFC program. Food Bank program staff and volunteers work with WIC staff to identify parents who need both protein and iron rich foods for their children. Every month enrollees receive a food box at one of our 9 FFC distribution sites. Over 515,000 pounds of healthy, nutritious, ‘kid friendly’ food was given away to the 707 children enrolled in the program last year. All participants come from low income households. We use the WIC income eligibility guidelines (185% of U.S. poverty income). 80% of the enrollees are referred to the program by WIC.
Program goals are to improve the nutritional status of children and to maintain the nutritional integrity of foods we provide to very low-income children. Volunteers assemble boxes of food in our warehouse. Food bank drivers deliver the boxes to the distribution sites. Volunteers assist at the sites by signing in the parents, packaging the perishable food items and by giving the boxes of food to eligible recipients.

Food For Children distribution in Bay Point

What is in a Food bag/box?
People who receive a bag/box of food at one of our Food For Children distributions typically take home – cereal, macaroni and cheese, rice, beans, pasta, tuna, canned chicken, canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned soup, ready to eat meals, snack, milk, produce, bread.

Just ask an employee.

Learn more about the people who work at the Food Bank.
We will ask the same seven questions to different staff members each month.

1. Name: Larry Sly
2. What is your position at the Food Bank? Executive Director
3. How long have you worked at the Food Bank? 33 years (and counting)
4. How/Why did you start working here? I started as the truck driver (the number 2 position) when the entire staff was two people.
5. Why do you enjoy working at the Food Bank? I love working here because every day is different and we are absolutely doing the right thing.
6. What do you like to do in your free time? What is free time? (I like to exercise, read and go hiking/backpacking)
7. Tell us one interesting fact about yourself. I went to college at UC Berkeley from 1968-72 (shortly after the Free Speech Movement). It was still an incredibly active political time; I was tear-gassed more than once.

Photo of Larry accepting a donation from two girls last year.

The Value of Volunteering

Many moms and daughters work hard volunteering their time with National Charity League (NCL). We appreciate the hard work they do to help the Food Bank help those in need. The Lamorinda NCL group recently sent the letter below describing in their own words how the Food Bank system works and the value of volunteering. We truly appreciate their efforts and kind words.

Dear Sharon (Food Bank Volunteer Manager),

Thank you for your support of the Lamorinda NCL group. The Food Bank is one of the amazing learning experiences our NCL mother-daughter teams participate in. The size of the warehouse, the large number of boxes piled floor to ceiling and the amount of food donations that need to be discarded due to expiration or recall have provided vivid “visuals” that leave lasting impressions on all of our minds.

Our Lamorinda NCL mother-daughter teams prepare food at the Pittsburg (Loaves & Fishes) prep kitchen and serve meals at Loaves & Fishes (dining room). Volunteer experience at the Food Bank, “the SOURCE” of the food for many if not all of the meals, truly enhances our members’ appreciation of the positive and tremendous effort and commitment involved in providing food for the needy.

On behalf of all of our Lamorinda NCL members, it is an honor to be able to participate in such a worthy cause and to work with such dedicated staff as you at the Food Bank.

Be well.

Rosemary D. and Linda V.

The Food Bank would like to say “thank you” to the Lamorinda NCL group and all the NCL groups we work with through out the year. We could not operate a single day without the help of our wonderful volunteers.