Archive for July, 2011

What’s better than a couple lattes? A bag of food!

Safeway Stores has a special food drive campaign where for $10 I can buy a prepacked bag of food which will be donated to the Food Bank. Those that know me, know I love coffee so I decided if I only had a latte once a day (instead of twice a day), in 3 days I could buy a $10 bag with the money I would have spent on myself. Now I can buy a bag of groceries for someone else! And I didn’t even miss the afternoon latte. It just shows how if we all gave up something small, we could help fill up these barrels.

The food drive ends on Sunday July 24th so let’s all buy a bag and fill up these empty barrels. Food Drive time during the summer is slow so with just a $10 bag (and 3 less lattes) I can make a huge difference in someone elses life. And I didn’t even miss the lattes and those I work with were happier because I had a bit less energy and a bit more focused. Thanks Safeway for helping those in need!

Safeway Summer Food Drive

Health and Wellness at the Food Bank

If the key to successfully helping others is to take care of yourself then the Food Bank staff has a bit of work cut out for them.

When we are not busy making sure that the food we order from our distributors is low in sodium, fat and sugar, the Nutrition and Wellness committees have stepped up their efforts to make some positive health changes for the staff.

The first task at hand for the Nutrition committee was to improve the nutrition content of the snack items found in our vending machines. The goal of attaining a 50/50 mix of healthier snack options versus non healthy was an easy  task to accomplish with our current vending machine operator who was more than happy to supply us with an array of healthier alternatives that meet the Fit Pick criteria. Fit Pick™ nutritional criteria are based on the recommendations of the: American Heart Association, 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Thanks to the nutrition committee, we now have super yummy snacks that are baked instead of fried, lower in sugar, fat and salt.

Fit Pick™ products are lower in fat and sugar with criteria for adults of 35-10-35 which means no more than:

35% of total calories from fat

10% of calories from saturated fat

35% of total product weight from sugar

Generally speaking, our health is a mirror of our daily habits and with that in mind the Wellness committee will encourage sedentary staff to move just a little bit more every day. Whether it’s standing up at their desks , taking  15 minute walks in the morning and afternoon,  taking the stairs faster or two at a time there is always something more that can be done to burn a few extra calories that don’t require a gym membership or special equipment.

To help us with our healthy ambitions please keep us in mind if you know someone who would like to donate an unused or under-used Elliptical machine that Food Bank staff will use during breaks. Maybe it’s currently serving as a clothes rack instead of its intended purpose as exercise equipment.

So if anyone out there has or knows of someone who has an Elliptical that they would like to donate to the food bank staff to help encourage a healthier lifestyle or “Healthstyle” please feel free to contact Veronica Wimer at or 925-677-7012.

California Food Banks React to Signing of State Budget

Guest post by Sue Sigler, Executive Director of California Association of Food Banks: Last week Governor Brown signed a state budget package to close California’s $9.6 billion funding shortfall for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

While food banks across the state are relieved that a budget was passed without further cuts to the safety net, we are deeply disappointed that the budget does not include the modest temporary revenue extensions that Governor Brown had sought to help close the deficit. The revenue extensions were part of a balanced proposal to solve the state’s fiscal shortfall, which also included steep cuts. California’s low-income residents are now faced with $15 billion in cuts that hit safety programs especially hard and will continue to drive more people to food banks for assistance.

Instead of revenue extensions to bring down the deficit, the budget package anticipates $4 billion in additional revenue returns for the next fiscal year. However, if these extra revenues fail to materialize, automatic “trigger” cuts will take effect in January to make up the balance. The first tier of trigger cuts includes health and human services programs that provide vital support for our most vulnerable citizens.

The budget deal preserves several funding restorations in critical life-sustaining health and human services programs, including CalWORKS, childcare, and In Home Supportive Services. These restorations are the very least we should do to repair a frayed social safety net that has been weakened by over $15 billion in cumulative cuts made to health care and social services in state budgets since 2008, during a period of record unemployment and economic hardship.

The legislature’s inability to enact a budget solution with revenue extensions has once again highlighted the flaws in a budget process that allows a handful of legislators to override the priorities of a majority of Californians. Because a few legislators in Sacramento would not compromise on revenues, millions of Californians who struggle with hunger will bear the brunt of deep cuts made to balance the budget. California’s economic and family recovery will ultimately depend on the passing of real, sustainable revenue options that get our families back to work.

About the California Association of Food Banks
The mission of California Association of Food Banks is to provide a unified voice among food banks to maximize their ability to build a well nourished California.

Boxing Project Continues to Bring People Together While Fighting Hunger

Guest post by Jenay Ross, USC journalism student: Twice or sometimes three times a month, a group of volunteers gather in our warehouse to box food for our Food for Children and Extra Helpings programs.

Most of the volunteers for this project are retired and see volunteer opportunities with the Food Bank as a chance to do something productive and worthwhile with their free time and many of them have been a part of the boxing team for quite some time.

When Jim Denels retired about 11 years ago, he decided to volunteer regularly with the Food Bank. He also volunteers at a prison as a math teacher to prepare inmates for their GEDs. When explaining what inspired him to get involved he said, “My first job ever was a social worker so I was aware of problems in the community and people who don’t quite have enough to get by.”

Barbara and Rod Levander was given the suggestion to become involved with the Food Bank by their daughter who works for Women, Infants and Childrens (WIC), a food and nutrition service program. “We know it’s (the help) needed,” said Mrs. Levander. For the past ten years, the Levanders have been sorting and boxing food at the Food Bank. Sometimes they even participate in the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive by helping unload bags of food out of postal trucks.

The Levanders inspired another retired couple, Victor and Fran Smith, to help at the boxing project. They also sort food and have gone to distributions and describe their experience as “very rewarding” since they know that the “food is going to go to someone special”.

From putting boxes together to pulling flat bed carts to bending over to pack food, the Food Bank’s boxing project can be laborious, but can just as easily dual as a social event. “With this particular group, it’s almost a social occasion,” said Denels. Most agreed that one of the best parts of getting together for the project was to be able to socialize with each other.

Besides enjoying the company of each other, they all have a big heart and are eager to make a difference. When talking to another volunteer, Jim Gray said, “Instead of advocating a solution to a problem, we’re actually fixing a problem.”

Boxing Project Lead Volunteer Teri Bloebaum with Jim Denels and other volunteers assembling boxes.

Finished Boxes of Nutritious Food and a Recipe

Our Volunteers Filling Boxes