Archive for 2011

Big and Small Toys for All

Guest post by Food Bank volunteer Aaron Yuen: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano was invited to the California Autobody Association East Bay Chapter’s 14th Annual Toys for Tots Model Truck Competition. The dinner event took place at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville on Tuesday, November 16 at 7:00pm. As a Food Bank Ambassador, I was asked to represent the Food Bank joined by my wife Kathryn. It was a most enjoyable evening. The model cars created by the body shops and students were exquisite. Many folks who contributed to the autobody industry were recognized. The models were silent auctioned out to the benefits of two local food banks. The event also gave out many scholarships to autobody schools/students.

Dinner was prepared by Scott’s Seafood. Ceasar salad, stuffed salmon, grilled chicken, and glazed walnut rum cake were served. I purchased $20 of raffle tickets and ended up with 3 prizes by the end of the evening; a $50 gift card to Hana Japan, two $25 gift cards to Umigo Indoor Kart Racing and a hooded sweatshirt size 2XL (after this dinner, size 2XL seemed to fit just right!). As an ambassador, I took the opportunity to give out some “Quick Facts” cards to bring awareness to event goers about our Food Bank and its programs and services.

The event host Gigi Walker served many purposes via this event. What a great idea in honoring people in the industry, grooming the next generation and doing charitable work all in one evening. It was inspiring and humbling for having taken part in such a well thought out event.  By the end of the evening, 157 pounds of donated food was collected. According to Gigi Walker, the auction also raised $3500 with about half of the proceeds going to each food bank.

Sutter Hospital provides $6000 to Hungry Solano County Neighbors

Sutter Health has generously selected the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano to receive a $6,000 donation as part of a quarter-million-dollar donation to 29 food banks throughout Northern California.

“I’m very pleased to give what we can to our local food bank, especially when so many families are in need,” stated Terry Glubka, CEO of Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo.

Over the past three years, Sutter Health donated $762,500 to food banks in local communities which enables the purchase nutritious food for those in need.

Besides the medical center in Vallejo, Sutter Health operates care centers in Fairfield, Rio Vista, Vacaville.

Giving Back is Elementary in Lafayette

Guest post from Nancy Beliveau, Lafayette Elementary School 4th Grade Teacher: Lafayette Elementary School’s PTA has been sponsoring an annual Food Drive for over 20 years, collecting over 2,200 pounds each year. The classes collect food in their rooms all week. On Friday, a quiet group of parents arrive with wagons and rolling carts to transfer the food to the red Food Bank barrels outside our main office.

Three years ago, my class was awarded a trip to the Food Bank warehouse for donating the most food over a three-week period. The students loved seeing where the food went and how big the facility was.

When the students were told how the food got sorted and shipped out, they asked if they could help. Unfortunately, our class size was too large to participate in sorting at the warehouse. So that left us with how to involve the children.

A few years ago, our local middle school actually sorted of all their donated food after school with student volunteers. I remembered this as my daughter was at the school then. I asked Joan Tomasini (Food Drive Coordinator) from the Food Bank if this would be an option for my 4th graders. She looked in to it and our plan was set!

Since we collect food for three weeks, the numbers worked out as we have three 4th grade classrooms. The first week Joan worked with my class and explained how to organize the food into the categories they use at the warehouse. The next two weeks my class would work with our other two 4th grade classes. My students partner with someone from the other class and they work as a team.

Before we started sorting this year, my class looked through magazines and made up cards based on the Food Bank categories. We discussed vegetables, fruits, juices, tomato products, ready-to-eat foods, beans, soups, and other food items. This gave them an idea of how the sorting would go, besides realizing what some of the food actually was! It was a real eye-opener for some students!

The children start the sorting process by carrying all of the food from the red barrels and carrying it to our multi-use room. They line the items up on one side of the room. Joan and Marianne Brent, our PTA chairman, have already put out boxes that have category labels on them. We are set!

Each child selects two items and goes to find the correct boxes. They have also been taught how to stack the items in the boxes so the box can hold the greatest amount of food. At this time, I have discovered that some of the students become packers, while others continue to fill the boxes. When a box is full, Joan and Marianne show the children how to fold the flaps of the box down to secure it.

This year we decided that if a student brought a jar of peanut butter, that they could wear their PJs on Friday, for PB and J Day! I am going to have my students brainstorm later this year about some special days for next year, targeting food groups that are needed the most! I can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with!

Working with the Food Bank has been great for all of us. Our 4th graders know what community service is and how to get involved. Joan Tomasini shares her enthusiasm about including the children in this great service every time she is here. It has been a wonderful experience for our entire 4th grade community here at Lafayette Elementary.

Watch Nancy Beliveau and our Executive Director Larry Sly on CBS5 on Tuesday, December 22 during the 12pm newscast.

Fast Food Stamps

Should Food Stamp recipients be able to use their benefits to buy fast food? The program now known as CalFresh in California (and SNAP federally) was initiated during the depression to help end hunger and encourage domestic consumption of agricultural commodities.[1] The goal of the program is “to alleviate hunger and malnutrition … by increasing food purchasing power for all eligible households who apply for participation” as stated in the Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended (P.L. 108-269).[2] A record 45.8 million Americans used the program in August according to USDA that number represents an 8.1% increase over the previous year. [3]

Even though the name changed last year and benefits have been received on a electronic debit card system since the 1990’s, the term “food stamps” has remained the commonly known name of CalFresh. As the new name implies, people are encouraged to purchase fresh, healthy food items with their benefits, but are allowed to purchase any food items found in a grocery store except hot food, alcohol, cigarettes, pet food and household items. Benefits can also be used at many farmers markets. And in California benefits can be used at restaurants by people who can’t cook for themselves such as homeless, elderly, and the disabled. Should it be ok then for all recipients to use their benefits at fast food places where the food quality and nutritional value is surely less than what they could get at the grocery store or fares market? A certain fast food company was recently lobbying for just that in several states.[4] Share your thoughts with us but please remember to keep it respectful.

Food Banks Seek Community Support to Help Raise $100,000 during ABC7’s Share Your Holiday Food Drive

With unemployment remaining at 9 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area, the demand for food assistance continues to increase.  Bay Area Food Banks, a collaboration of eight local food banks serving 11 northern California counties, are serving the needs of more than 600,000 Bay Area residents each month.  To continue to meet the needs at this scale, they look to the community for support.   You can help!  ABC7 ‘s Share Your Holiday Food Drive, benefitting Bay Area Food Banks, launches bright and early on Thursday, December 15 with the goal of raising $100,000 during the daylong event.

“We know that many Bay Area families have been affected by the downturn of the economy, and we want to do our part to help support the local Food Banks.  We are hopeful our generous ABC7 viewers will come together and support their local food bank and help feed hungry families this holiday season,” said William Burton, ABC7 President and General Manager.

On December 15 , starting at 5:30 a.m., ABC7 will be asking viewers to make a donation to their local food bank using one of these 7 Ways To Give:

  1. Donate to your local food bank online at
  2. Text FEED to 80077 to donate $10
  3. Mail your check made payable to “Food Bank to ABC7 Food Drive, 900 Front Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
  4. Call in your donation in to  800-515-1719  – Volunteers will be on hand to take your donation
  5. Find your local food bank on Facebook and “like” their page to stay updated on how you can get involved
  6. Drop off a donation of non-perishable food items to the live food drive location at Alameda County Community Food Bank or at your local food bank
  7. Schedule time to volunteer at your local food bank. Volunteers are needed throughout the year!

“We are truly grateful to ABC7 for the time, hard work and energy they have given to support the Bay Area Food Banks,” said Larry Sly, executive director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. “The financial support food banks receive from the community is a critical part of our work. You can make a difference by giving to the ABC7 Share Your Holiday Food Drive and working together to help our neighbors in need. ”

Tune into ABC7 on December 15 for inspiring stories from people who have supported Bay Area Food Banks and from people who are in need of assistance now.  By using the ABC7 – 7 Ways To Give, you can help provide food assistance that will go to families facing hunger this holiday season and throughout the year.

*Mobile Donation Fine Print: $10.00 donation to Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano also benefiting other Bay Area food banks. Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Message and Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 80077 to STOP. Text HELP to 80077 for HELP.  Full Terms: Privacy Policy.


Gift Cards Galore!

Guest post by Kristy Osborn, Extra Helpings Coordinator. In the month of November, the Food Bank distributed a $15 Safeway gift card to each client in the Extra Helpings Food Program and will be doing the same at the end of December.  Each year, the Food Bank distributes gift cards in the program during these months in lieu of distributing turkeys or hams due to food safety, personal choice, and logistical reasons.   “By giving our clients a gift card instead of a turkey we are able to ensure that they will be able to get what they want because not everyone likes turkey or ham.  Also, it is a lot easier to transport 50 gift cards rather than 50 turkeys to a distribution site and there are no potential food safety issues. It’s just a win, win all around to do it this way,” explained the coordinator of the Extra Helpings Program.

The gift cards allow the clients to have the ability to pick out something special for themselves during the holidays.  For many of them, this is the only gift they may receive during the holiday season since some are estranged from their family and have few social outlets to make friends. One client expressed his appreciation and excitement regarding the gift cards saying, “Thank you sooo much!  I’m gonna get me a big turkey and make a feast with all the fixings for Thanksgiving.”  When the Extra Helpings Coordinator asked the client who was coming over the client responded, “No one since all my family lives on the east coast and I don’t have too many friends.  I’m just gonna cook a big Thanksgiving meal cause I like to cook and I deserve it!”

The Extra Helpings Program is a supplemental food program for people of all ages who are living with HIV/AIDS and are case managed through the Contra Costa County AIDS Program. Clients can receive food twice a month through this program and generally receive a box of nonperishable items (canned foods,  dry pasta/rice, cereal, peanut butter, etc.), a bag of produce, bread items, meat (chicken or beef), cheese and a gallon of milk each time they come to the distribution site.  The Extra Helpings program offers home delivery service for clients who are medically homebound and too weak to pick up their food. The Food Bank has been offering this program since 2006.

Time for Turkeys

The Walnut Creek Sports and Fitness Club 19th annual Turkey Trot was held on Thanksgiving morning. Participants were asked to bring food for the Food Bank and staff were on hand with their truck and barrels to collect the food starting at 6:30am. Food was deposited by people dressed as turkeys, pilgrims, and even a can of cranberry sauce dropped by our truck to pose with a Food Bank barrel. A total of 465 pounds of food were collected and many people of all ages dropped by to talk about the Food Bank and where they could donate food or money.

Brazen Racing held their Nitro Turkey Thanksgiving Run at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline in Richmond with over 800 dedicated racers joining in the morning fun. These are dedicated runners who love the challenge of hills and rugged trails. The racers were very happy to donate $45 and 821 pounds of food to fill the van. While it was raining in Walnut Creek we had some sunshine and a beautiful rainbow over the bay. What a great day to collect food for our community. We can hardly wait for both runs next Thanksgiving Day!

For more about real turkeys, watch our Purchasing Manager, Veronica, talk about holiday turkey donations.

Santa Dollars

Looking for a unique stocking stuffer? Look no further! Santa Dollars, available at any California Pacific Federal Credit Union branch, are here, and proceeds benefit the Food Bank! Santa Dollars are real, spendable dollars. Surprise  kids, grandkids, or even Aunt Betty in her Christmas card. For more information visit Happy Holidays!

Agency Store Gives Help with Dignity

Guest post by Inventory Logistics Coordinator, Charisse Ross. The Vacaville Storehouse is a distribution center for food and clothing to needy families of Vacaville. The food is provided by the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Food and clothing are given free of charge to those who are in need. Some members of our operations team stopped in for a visit and shared what they saw.

Filled bags of groceries ready for Storehouse patrons.

Their store front looks like a mini Target. Clients check in at the door and are asked if they have picked up groceries yet this month. The volunteer will verify in their computer whether or not the person came. If not, they go through the FAP (Food Assistance Program) qualifying process. If they have not received their FAP groceries yet, they are given a coupon that they exchange for the proper number of bags based on their family size. Whether they are picking up a FAP bag or not, they still get to shop in their “store”. They are given one empty grocery bag and they can fill it with whatever items they want (i.e. clothes, perishables and/or other non-food items). About 1500 bags of groceries are distributed every month.

Pastor Raymond Beaty is the Executive Director of the program. The white boxes behind him are cereal our purchasing manager helped them get.

They have an internship program with kids between 18 and 23 who have graduated from high school, but not sure of what they want to do next. They come from all over, even different countries and are housed by host families from their church. These kids take various different classes they provide plus they volunteer at the Storehouse every day. The Storehouse also goes out into troubled areas of their community and (using the same qualifying process) give out groceries. For instance, one location is a park where gang members might hang out. They show up with food to give out, the gang members go away and they have noticed kids coming out to play.

54 scarves knitted for the Storehouse by Food Bank employee, Charise, her friends and family.

The Vacaville storehouse is located at:
1146 E. Monte Vista Ave.

Vacaville, CA 95688

For more information please email Stephanie Johnson or visit their website.
Have you been to the Storehouse? Tell us about it in the comments.


Vacaville Storehouse





The Luxury Peanut Butter

As food costs have risen over the past few months the one item known as a staple in many households is quickly becoming a luxury. Peanut Butter, the kid friendly food that is such a great source of protein, has risen nearly 60% for the purchasing manager at the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano.

“Peanut butter prices have gone up 30 percent or more because hot weather in states like Texas and Georgia hurt this year’s peanut crop and because some farmers switched to more profitable crops, such as corn and cotton.”  –Washington Post

Just this past summer the Food Bank was able to buy a 12/18oz case of peanut butter for about $15.50/ case and now prices have risen to nearly $24.50/ case.

To provide a child with this healthy source of protein, you can donate online or bring in a jar of peanut butter today!