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Archive for March, 2012

One Sunday Makes a Big Difference

Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church (also known to the community as LOPC) has been a long time supporter of the Food Bank. They have collected food donations for many years and are one of our longest running food drives. LOPC is a huge presence in the community always working with local, national and international partners to help those in need. On Sunday February 27th hundreds of volunteers helped organizations with projects throughout our community.

A very ambitious group of volunteers led by “Team Leader” Kerry Kinrade were organized and ready to work. They were able to sort and box a considerable amount of donated food enabling us to serve those in need in our community.

For more about the LOPC visit them on the web. http://www.lopc.org/

Stamp Out Hunger

Two years ago the Letter Carriers Food Drive was ready to pass the 1 billion pound mark of food collected across the nation – quite an amazing record. This year May 12th, 2012 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Letter Carriers Food Drive. Our hard-working letter carriers that deliver the mail to us care so much about our community that they work extra hard on the 2nd Saturday in May bringing back all of the food that you in our community left by your mailboxes. In honor of our letter carriers, let’s all leave a bag of nonperishable food by our mailboxes to help our local community and to celebrate 20 years of the Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

We have a population of over 1.4 million people between our two counties. If everyone put 1 can of food out for every person in their household, we would pickup roughly 1.4 million pounds of food in one day. We would need more trucks to help with the pickup, more volunteers at the post offices and then more volunteers through the next several months to help sort/box and distribute the food. What a wonderful problem to imagine and to solve. Please join your letter carrier, the Food Bank and the rest of the community in STAMPING OUT HUNGER on Saturday May 12th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Galila and Leslie!

The Fairfield office would like to welcome two new office volunteers: Galila Kitzes from Vacaville, and Leslie Williams of Fairfield. Galila, a busy mom, began volunteering in the warehouse last fall, and is now helping with office projects on Fridays. Leslie started volunteering in early February on Tuesdays and Thursdays when she is not in school.

They assist our Lead Volunteer, Julie Ruttenberg, with CalFresh projects.  Until recently, Julie was able to meet the demands of the CalFresh team by herself, but the program has been expanding so it became necessary to recruit additional help. The women assemble CalFresh applications, put stickers on materials, and bundle brochures. These materials are then used by the Food Bank staff members who conduct CalFresh outreach.  We are very happy Galila and Leslie have joined the growing team of regular volunteers at the Food Bank’s Solano location.

Bring on the Cupcake War!

Back by popular demand – the Cupcake War at the Food Bank’s annual Admiral’s Garden event on June 24th on Mare Island in Vallejo!  There is a new twist this year.  Thanks to Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery for their sponsorship, the winner of Cupcake War will receive $500!  A panel of celebrity judges will pick the winner, and guests will sample  scrumptious  mini-cupcakes.

Do you know a chef or master baker who would like to participate in the Food Bank’s Cupcake War 2012?
Please contact Kathy Gleason kgleason@foodbankccs.org  for details.

A Kente Ball & Banquet

Guest post by Ambassador Aaron Yuen: The Anuanom Club of Antioch hosted a Kente ball & banquet dance on Saturday, March 3, 2012. The event was to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Ghana’s independence and Ghanaian cultural heritage. Enjoying the evening festivities were 300 guests mostly of Ghanaian heritage. During the event, the Anuanom Club made a donation of $200 to the Food Bank and sponsored a food drive which yielded 318 pounds of food.

Our very own Larry Sly was invited as an honored guest. Due to a schedule conflict, Larry was unable to attend the event. I was asked to take Larry’s place to represent the Food Bank. My first impression was that the word anuanom sounded poetically beautiful. Later, I learned that anuanom meant sisters and brothers in the Ghanaian Akan language. The collective strength of sisterhood and brotherhood of the Anuanom Club has certainly made some positive impact in our community. The club has also contributed to worthy causes such as the American Red Cross. We are thankful that the club has chosen to be a partner of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. We look forward to our continued association.

The event showcased the rich Ghanaian cultural heritage. Traditional dances performed by youths of Ghanian heritage to the drum rhythms and percussion marked the highlight of an exhilarating evening of festivities.

Have I mentioned the scrumptious Ghanaian feast prepared by renowned chef Harold Sena-Akoto?

For appetizers: Succulent jumbo tiger prawns, snow crab claws, a variety of cheeses and other delicacies served under the elegance of an ice sculpture.

For entrees: Grilled chicken and beef, goat stew, seared salmon, two traditional Ghanaian rice dishes and salad.

For desserts: Fried plantain banana and an extensive collection of mousses of many delicate flavors and baked goods, too many to list individually.

It was a wonderful night to learn about the culture of Ghana and the community support to many organizations including the Food Bank by the Anuanom Club. Thanks for all you do.

Lafayette United Methodist Church Helps the Food Bank

Guest post by Ambassador Pat Hershey — I’ve always joked that Methodists have a passion for food (as in pot luck dinners), but at Lafayette United Methodist Church (LUMC) we put our real passion into helping the Food Bank.

Through our ongoing food drive, the “ONE Project,” we encourage members to bring one item of food to church each week.  They can just drop their donations into the Food Bank barrel as they come into the sanctuary.   Leslie Murray, our ONE Project coordinator, recently suggested that we set a goal to double our total yearly donation in 2012, and so far we are on track!  For March, we are suggesting that folks bring peanut butter to donate, as that is one of the Food Bank’s most needed items.

LUMC members also regularly volunteer with the Food Bank’s “Boxing Team,” packing boxes of food for the Food for Children and Extra Helpings direct distribution programs.  The Boxing Team works 2 – 3 Fridays a month, packing anywhere from 250 to over 700 boxes at a time.   Rod & Barbara Levander started volunteering at the Food Bank over 12 years ago, first in the sorting room and then within a short time joined the Boxing Team.  Vic & Fran Smith joined the Boxing Team a couple years later, and with the addition of Jill and myself in recent years, LUMC now regularly fields 6 members to help the team.

We also have groups of youth and adults who volunteer from time to time to help sort donated food at the Concord warehouse and pick pears for the Food Bank from the Moraga orchard.  Recently I led a group of LUMC kids from ages 12 to 82 out to the Concord warehouse and we spent the afternoon sorting 5,187 pounds of food.   That’s a lot of food, but at the end of the afternoon the group was simply saying “When is the next time we’re coming back to do this again?  This was wonderful!”

One special thing that the LUMC women’s group has done for several years now is to make 100 Easter Baskets each year for kids in some of the Food Bank’s partner agency programs.  Sue Renno and Fran Smith organize this project and direct the assembly process, and then the Food Bank sends a truck to pick up the finished baskets and distribute them to the partner agencies.  Each basket includes a chocolate bunny, a stuffed animal, a toy and some practical items like tooth brushes etc.  One of the agencies receiving baskets last year wrote to us saying, “The baskets went to mothers participating in the workforce services program who are in training (in Antioch), and they were very appreciative. The consensus was that they wouldn’t have been able to provide any Easter gifts for their children without your help.”  Wow, what a great result from LUMC partnering up with the Food Bank!

Finally, I also volunteer in the Food Bank Ambassador program, which gives me a chance to go out to events and tell people about the Food Bank and the growing need for food assistance right here in Contra Costa and Solano counties.  As an Ambassador, I’ve represented the Food Bank at a wide variety of events, including Oktoberfest in Todos Santos Plaza in Concord, an Employee Wellness event at Kaiser in Richmond, and the annual food drive at Fenton’s Ice Cream Parlor in Vacaville.  It’s so rewarding to be able to tell others about the incredibly important work the Food Bank is doing, and raise awareness around issues of hunger.  It fills my heart and feeds my soul.

LUMC Methodists are passionate about food – and we put that passion to work by helping the Food Bank achieve its vision of ending hunger here in Contra Costa and Solano counties.

Fresh Produce Where It's Needed Most

The other day I visited a school in Richmond as part of my regular visits to the 79 schools we serve through the Farm 2 Kids program. As the Program Coordinator it is my job to make sure everything is going smoothly at the schools’ weekly produce distributions and look for other ways the Food Bank can help.

This is an area hard it by the effects of the recession and as I drove through the neighborhood that fact was made apparent by the amount of foreclosure signs I saw.  Kristina, the After School Program Manager showed me where they pass out bags of produce to the kids as their parents pick them up at the end of the day.  Families were helping themselves to oranges, potatoes, and yams and the kids seemed more than happy to help their parents carry the food home.  When I talked further with Kristina she explained to me that parents are taking this produce not as a luxury, but as a necessity.  “We have so many families that are moving in with their extended families to save money so we have new kids at the school all the time.  Parents are losing their homes and their jobs and having to rent rooms to get by.  This food is something they really need.”  She went on to explain that in times of crisis, people see the school as a safe place they can go for resources.  She loves being able to provide healthy food as another resource for them because she knows they need it.  The extra help the Food Bank provides helps them stretch the few dollars they do have to provide for their children.

The Farm 2 Kids program provides 3-5 pounds of produce to after school programs each week.  Over 9,000 low-income children regularly receive fresh fruits and vegetables through the program.  To find out more about Farm 2 Kids visit our page or donate to support the program.

Chevron Gets Creative with Empty Bowls

Special thanks to our corporate partner Chevron for their ongoing support of a variety of Food Bank programs and events.  Chevron sponsors the Food Banks Farm 2 Kids Richmond and Concord programs, bringing 5-6 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to 2,600 children weekly.  Chevron supports the Food Bank’s June Admiral’s Garden fundraiser as well as the annual Holiday Food Drive. In addition, we thank Chevron for sponsoring the Holiday note card art competition, and the upcoming Empty Bowls event.

Speaking of Empty Bowls, Chevron volunteers visited the Food Bank on Friday, February 17 to paint bowls for these March 24 and 25  events.  Feeling a little insecure about their artistic abilities at first, the volunteers rallied and completed over 100 beautiful ceramic bowls! Designs included flowers, fruit, vegetables, butterflies, lady bugs, trees, abstract and geometric designs and more.  Thank you volunteers!

Empty Bowls will take place at the Food Bank Concord warehouse at 5 pm on Saturday, March 24, and at the Food Bank Fairfield warehouse at 3 pm on Sunday, March 25. Go to www.foodbankccs.org  to learn how you can participate in Empty Bowls and to register to attend online.

Thank you Chevron for your participation and sponsorship of Empty Bowls, and for your ongoing support throughout the year. With the help of corporate partners such as Chevron, the Food Bank has been able to reach our commitment to feed over 132,000 Contra Costa and Solano county residents in need each month.

Come to our Concord warehouse from 9-1 on Saturday, March 3rd to paint an empty bowl of your own, or get your own limited edition Chevron bowl by registering for Empty Bowls Concord, or Empty Bowls Fairfield. View the full photo set on Facebook.