Archive for March, 2011

Fluffernutter! A sundae for the Food Bank.

During the month of January there sure was a lot of positive ‘Fluffernutter’ talk at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. To raise money for local food banks and build awareness of hunger issues within our community, Fentons Creamery created Myrtle’s Special Sundae of the month, The Fluffernutter, which was inspired by one of the non-perishable food items desired most by food banks – Peanut Butter!

The Fluffernutter Sundae of chocolate peanut butter crunch ice cream and chocolate marshmallow swirl ice cream with hot fudge, peanuts, mini marshmallows and a cherry was sold throughout January to benefit the Food Bank. Fentons at the Nut Tree in Vacaville sold 151 Myrtle’s Creations (regular size) and 143 Junior size sundaes. With 25% of these sales being donated, we received a check for $653.06!

Fentons Vacaville didn’t stop there… they hosted a food drive and collected 90 pounds of food plus $106.32, their employees and family sorted and packed non-perishable food items for distribution at our Fairfield warehouse, and they gave us the opportunity to set-up a table in the lobby on Saturdays with literature and talk to Fentons’ guests about the Food Bank’s programs and services, as well as volunteer opportunities. As quoted by a Food Bank Ambassador who volunteered, “Fentons were very accommodating and helpful to us.” The promotion provided exposure to the Food Bank and brought a greater awareness to hunger issues.

Thank you Fentons Creamery in Vacaville for being an active participant in our local community!

Food Bank Ambassador Linda Elsdon tabling at Fentons in Vacaville

To learn more about our Food Bank Ambassador program, email

Weekly Pound For Pound Challenge Recipes

After a short hiatus, we are back with your weekly Pound For Pound Challenge recipes. Try these yummy, healthy comfort foods and let us know what you think.

Toasted Barley with Mixed Vegetables

Healthified Tuscan White Bean Soup

Triple-Berry Granola Crisp

Words of healthy advice from our Challenge Champion Patti Anderson: Here are 4 things I try to remember so I can continue to succeed: 1) Eat breakfast; 2) Don’t drink calories; 3) Eat dinner 3 hours before bed; and 4) Get at least 8 hours sleep. In between breakfast and bed I make sure to move & sweat! Hope you have a plan and a great day!

To read more about the Challenge, visit the Pound For Pound section of our blog.

Bingo Volunteers Needed

The Food Bank is trying a new fund raising opportunity with Blue Devils Bingo which is just down the street from us at 4065 Nelson Avenue in Concord. Every Monday morning we need to provide volunteers who work for several hours helping the bingo hall staff. The volunteers help set up the bingo, welcome guests, and sell the bingo cards. The Food Bank receives a donation for collaborating in this effort. One of our volunteers said it is her Monday morning exercise because she spends the whole time moving around the room “working the crowd”.

If you are interested in learning more about this bingo volunteer opportunity, please let us know.

Bingo Volunteers

Jason Katz and Food Bank Volunteers Going Bingo

Take a look at our latest quarterly Volunteer E-news and stay in touch with us by simply joining our online community of caring citizens who receive occasional e-news related to their area(s) of interest. Additionally, we hope you will read about the many community events ( taking place which offer a variety of ways to get involved and help support the Food Bank.

Pound for pound, we can fight hunger.

The local support we’re getting for the Pound For Pound Challenge is amazing!  We welcome and thank everyone who is helping our food bank earn a bigger share of the $1 million being offered by the Pound For Pound Challenge because this will allow us to feed more individuals and families in need.

pound for pound challengeWe at the Food Bank would like to thank the following community partners for getting the word out about the Pound For Pound Challenge: Anderson Bros. Movers in Martinez who have been promoting the challenge through local Chamber of Commerce associations, California Fitness in Martinez, Clayton Fitness Center, Clayton Mind and Body Connections, Clayton Snap Fitness Center, The Dailey Method® in Lafayette, Dr. Lujan Chiropractic Office in Concord, In-Shape Sport in Concord, Kelly Ann’s Day Spa in Pleasant Hill, PATH Performance Training Center in Pleasant Hill, Play It Again Sports® in Pleasant Hill, Spark Fitness in Pleasant Hill, Step It Up Studios in Pleasant Hill, The Big C Athletic Club in Concord, 24 Hour Fitness in Moraga, UFC Gym in Concord, Walnut Creek Sports & Fitness Club, and YMCA in Pleasant Hill.

For the third consecutive year, Feeding America and NBC’s The Biggest Loser have partnered with General Mills and Subway to encourage Americans to “Lose Nationally, Feed Locally”.

Take the challenge to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and you help both yourself and your community to be healthier. Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 11 cents for every pound pledged (up to a maximum donation of $1,040,000). You can pledge your goals at When you sign up, you can immediately join a team – and our team’s name is “Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano”. And, be sure to join our Pound For Pound Challenge – Contra Costa and Solano facebook group to learn more about the weekly “Walk to Give & Get Healthy” event we have created to help us reach our Challenge goals.

Child Hunger Ends Here™

ConAgra Foods and Feeding America (national network of food banks) are joining forces to fight child hunger this spring. Nearly one in four children in the United States does not know where his next meal is coming from. This means that more than 17 million children are at risk of hunger. But there is hope and there are ways to help.

When you purchase select ConAgra Foods products and enter a code online at, a monetary donation will be made enabling one meal to be provided to Feeding America (up to 2.5 million meals). Participating brands include Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Fresh Mixers, Kid Cuisine, Marie Callender’s and Peter Pan. Every code entered through 8/31/11 is another meal that ConAgra Foods will donate to Feeding America on behalf of local food banks to help feed a child in need.

Also, on March 19th “Child Hunger Ends Here: A Special Report”, a 30 minute special hosted by Al Roker and Natalie Morales, will premiere on select NBC stations. The special highlights the personal stories of families struggling with hunger and showcases how Americans can work together to tackle this important issue. Check local listings for viewing times. To learn more, visit

Did you know March is National Nutrition Month®?

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month®, an annual nutrition education and information campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, is “Eat Right with Color” and that is one of our favorite topics here at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

Child Eating AppleEat Right with Color is part of our daily work. In many low-income neighborhoods, access to affordable, nutritious food is sparse at best, often leading to higher than average occurrences of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity. At the Food Bank, we aim to help everyone Eat Right with Color by ensuring access to fresh, healthy food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Of the more than 12.6 million pounds of food we distributed last year, an amazing 3.5 million pounds were fresh fruits and vegetables.

Our Senior Food Program is certainly doing its part of making sure seniors eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The ‘Colors of the Senior Food Program’ at our last five distributions brought a greater nutritional value to the bags of food. Green was represented by cabbage and apples. White was represented by onions and potatoes. Orange was represented by oranges, carrots and yams.

Last week our Farm 2 Kids Coordinator visited a few Vallejo schools that receive produce on a weekly basis. Everyone was ecstatic because for the first time they all received a shipment of red and yellow mangoes from the Food Bank. Frequently when she asks the children what they would like to see in Farm 2 Kids they inevitably say enthusiastically “mangoes!” Read more about the mangoes we distributed to hundreds of children on our Food Bank Blog.

Where does the produce come from? As part of our statewide association of Food Banks we are able to purchase surplus produce for pennies on the pound. Fruits and vegetables grown by farmers in the Central Valley are often “not perfect enough” to be sold in grocery stores. Often, they are just too big or too small to be sold and that is why our clients sometimes receive giant oranges or tiny potatoes. The Food Bank buys the produce in large bins and then we have volunteers sort out any items that may have spoiled in transit. They then package the fruits and vegetables in boxes and a driver delivers them to the school site.

These are just a few examples of what Eat Right with Color means here at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano as we strive to provide healthy food for hungry people.

Piggy Potluck?

No, this isn’t the latest in culinary cuisine. It is future pig food! These 5 high school girl scout volunteers are taking old dry goods (pastas, rice, jello, cake mixes, etc.), opening them up and pouring them into this cardboard tote. A pig farmer in East Contra Costa County will pick up the tote of dry goods and use this as grain for his pigs. The cardboard packaging will go into our big white paper dumpster and the recyclable plastic will go in our special blue tote for plastics.

Where do we get this food? When it is food drive time, well meaning donors often go through their cupboards and give us expired food that we can’t distribute to those we help. So rather than throwing it into the garbage (and ending up in a landfill), we make what we proudly call “Piggy Potluck”. The name was created by a group of Bank of America associates who were our first volunteer group to make “Piggy Potluck” so they created the name and we have called it “Piggy Potluck” ever since.

This is one more way we help reduce our footprint on Earth and are able to create a fun volunteer project. Just ask these scouts!


Millions of Mangos or so it seemed! Today we received mangos which we had never received before. So after seeing all of these mangos, I had to look on the internet to see what to do with one. We received these mangos from a produce distributor in Ventura. I am sure all of the California food banks have them right now so this is pretty exciting to have something new and exotic. Will the children eat them – I definitely think so.

So here is what you need to know: The mango is a comfort food. Mangos really can make you feel better! Beyond being delicious and rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, mangos contain an enzyme with stomach soothing properties and act as a digestive aid. Mangos are an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, as well as a good source of Potassium and contain beta carotene. Mangos are high in fiber, but low in calories (approx. 110 per average sized mango), fat (only 1 gram) and sodium.

That is all nice but how do you eat it? You can slice it and eat it or put it in a salad or a rice dish. You can put it in an omelet, add it to French toast or cereal. Add a mango to soup or pizza or just about any dish you can think of. The recipes are endless. So this seems to be the perfect fruit! Check out to see some great recipes and learn more about the mango. Our mangos are on their way to hundreds of children today. I hope they like them and learn how wonderful fruit can be.

Join National Call-In Day to Protect the Nutrition Safety Net!

As hundreds of advocates converge on Washington, DC for the 2011 National Anti-hunger Policy Conference, including representatives form Contra Costa and Solano counties, you can help us amplify our voice by joining our national call-in day today.  For those of you who will not be in Washington, you can still make your voice heard by calling your Members of Congress!

Latest News from Washington

Last week, Congress passed a short-term, two-week continuing resolution (CR) funding the Federal government through March 18. The short-term CR cuts $4 billion dollars as compared to FY2010 spending levels, and more cuts are on the horizon as Congress continues to work toward a long-term CR to fund programs through the remainder of the fiscal year.

The House-passed version of the long-term CR, H.R. 1, would cut nearly $61 billion in domestic non-security spending as compared to FY2010. The Senate will take two votes this week: one on H.R. 1, and one on a Senate bill introduced late Friday, March 4 that would cut about $6.5 billion from the budget as compared to FY2010. Both votes are expected to fail and are intended to demonstrate the need for the House to work with the Senate to find some middle ground before the short-term CR expires in two weeks.

These next two weeks are a critical opportunity to influence the process, and we need to keep the pressure on. Help us keep pushing Congress to protect the low-income safety net by calling your senators today. Participate in our National Call-In Day and urge your senators to safeguard the safety net!

Sen. Roberts

Senator Roberts at Russell senate building, anti-hunger lobby day.

Call Today!

Help us track our impact by using our toll-free number, 877-698-8228. After a brief message you’ll be asked to enter your zip code to connect directly to your senator’s office.  After delivering your message to the first office, stay on the line to be connected to your second senator’s office.  Once you are connected to your first senator’s office:

  • Tell them that you are a constituent and state the name of the town you are calling from.
  • Let them know you are calling about the budget, H.R. 1
  • Deliver this simple message:I urge Sen. ____ to oppose cuts to safety net programs, especially nutrition assistance programs like TEFAP, which supports emergency feeding programs in our community. Instead, please work with House leaders to pass a budget that addresses deficit while safeguarding programs that protect low-income Americans.

Questions? Please contact Lisa Sherrill at

Where does the produce come from?

As the Farm 2 Kids Coordinator, this is probably one of the most common questions I am asked.  As part of our statewide association of Food Banks we are able to purchase surplus produce for pennies on the pound.  Fruits and vegetables grown by farmers in the central valley are often “not perfect enough” to be sold in grocery stores.  Often, they are just too big or too small to be sold and that is why our clients sometimes receive giant oranges or tiny potatoes.  The Food Bank buys the produce in large bins and then we have volunteers sort out any items that may have spoiled in transit.  They then package the fruits and vegetables in boxes and a driver delivers them to the school site.

Learn more about Farm 2 Kids or donate now to help support programs like this.