Archive for August, 2012

Inspired to Make a Difference

Guest post by coin club Board Member, Bill Green – Six years ago at Christmas time I was watching a local 10 pm newscast. One of the stories featured a clothing drive called ‘One Warm Coat’. I was impressed with the success of the effort and even more so by the good this clothing drive was providing to our neediest of neighbors. Then it struck me. Our Contra Costa based coin club could and should do something. Perhaps because I spent my career in the food business I first thought of doing something ‘food related’.  The next day I happened to be in a supermarket and saw the Food Bank barrels. That’s all it took. At the club’s Board of Directors meeting in January I proposed that we donate a portion of the admission fees from our annual coin show. The Board unanimously agreed.

A couple of years later we invited the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano to provide a speaker at one of our monthly coin club meetings. The statistics the Food Bank representative shared with us were stunning. The number of hungry people especially kids is almost beyond belief. The number of meals provided locally by the Food Bank is inspiring. Every year since that presentation we include Food Bank Facts in our coin show program. Maybe our show attendees will be moved to help. The need is great and growing.

I hope everyone reading this will consider attending our coin show. It’s full of family fun but it has a serious side, too….helping the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

Join Bill and the Food Bank at the Contra Costa Coin and Collectible show October 13 – 10 am – 5:30 pm Oct. 14 – 10 am – 4 pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel 45 John Glenn Dr.Concord. A portion of $3 admission benefits the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano at this fun and educational family outing! Visit for more info.


USDA Announces $170 Million Meat Bonus

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is thrilled to have received four bonus loads of pork including 500 cases canned pork, 1000 cases frozen ham, 1000 cases sliced ham, and 4,275 cases of frozen pork patties. This is part of the $170 million purchase USDA announced August 13 of pork, chicken, lamb, and catfish for federal food assistance programs, including food banks like ours.

Most of the purchases are designated for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).  TEFAP is distributed through our Food Assistance Program and because of the declines in TEFAP bonus commodity purchases over the past few years, this purchase could not come at a better time. Because there have been fewer bonus purchases, TEFAP has fallen from 25 percent of Feeding America food received to about 20 percent of the food distributed by Feeding America food banks nationally.

The drought in the Midwest is expected to cause an increase in food prices nationwide over the next year, so we expect that the unprecedented demands on the Food Bank and our partner agencies will be continuing through the end of 2012 and into 2013.

This donation will help us provide much-needed protein food to those we serve while it also helps ranchers and growers in drought-stricken areas.

A Challenging Week

Guest post by Kelsey Kobayashi: This summer our family participated in the Food Bank’s Hunger Challenge. For five days we needed to budget for and live on $4 per day per person [the national average for an individual receiving SNAP benefits]. There were 3 of us (2 adults and 1 child) participating, so our starting budget was $60. We were allowed to use what was already in our kitchen so as not to waste food. (We did not stock up but we had a few leftovers, and some staples). Before shopping for the week we spent time planning what to buy. We thought about what foods would be the healthiest choices, and would yield the most meals. We focused on protein, fruits & veggies. A dozen eggs, a bag of dried beans, a bag of frozen chicken, a block of cheddar cheese, peanut butter, a big bag of oranges, a bunch of bananas, some frozen veggies and a loaf of whole grain bread actually got us pretty far!

We spent a total of $41 on groceries that week, but the experience was priceless. It was certainly not easy. We felt the growling tummies, weakness and low energy from consuming fewer calories. We noticed that eating the same thing over and over, no matter how delicious, gets boring. As a mother I felt what it would be like not to be able to give my child a variety of fresh and healthy foods, and worse – the worry of not being able to feed them anything at all at times. We learned to appreciate not only our access to basic nutrition, but also the luxuries that make life interesting and enjoyable, like having friends over for dinner, baking cookies with the kids, a cup of coffee in the morning, or a bowl of ice cream for dessert. But most importantly we were alerted to what a huge problem hunger is right here in our own community, and found out how easy it is to help.

For ways to help, visit

Who Needs Help?

The things I learn as I am out being the representative of the Food Bank can be overwhelming sometimes.  I had a woman at a presentation I made last week hand me her business card.  The card said she has a B.A. and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology.  But the handwritten message on the card said “Jobs at Food Bank?  I REALLY NEED A JOB! PLEASE CALL”.  I talked to her so I know what her skills are if a job should open up at the Food Bank. Unfortunately I am not her answer today.  She needs a job and is doing all she can to get the position she needs, but even with the skill she has she cannot get the job she needs right now.

I also got a note we received with a financial donation that said “Enclosed please find a check in the amount of $1000.  This is a donation to the Food Bank.  After spending five months unemployed, I made a pledge to myself to contribute to the Food Bank once I was employed again.  Happily this is now the case.  I hope you find this donation helpful.”

I don’t know if these people received food from the Food Bank, but they demonstrate that there is a real need in the community today.  People who used to donate to us have been unemployed for months.  People with advanced degrees are not able to find work.  Our community is in a very fragile place right now, and the Food Bank is doing all we can to provide food to those who need help.

For more way you can help, visit

Kiewit Builds Community

Kiewit is one of the largest and most respected construction and mining organizations in North America. At Kiewit, their motto is “We build quality projects safely, on time and on budget; no matter how large or small”. Kiewit brings their motto to the Food Bank, supporting us in many ways – no matter how large or small!

With the Kiewit Infrastructure West office located in Fairfield and the Marsh Landing Generation Station Power Plant in Antioch we receive support not only through holiday and summer food drives, a virtual food drive and a sponsorship for our Admiral’s Garden fundraising event, but we also host a group of strong and dedicated Kiewit volunteers on the second Tuesday evening of every month in our Concord warehouse. At the end of the two hour shift, the Kiewit employees are happily exhausted and we have hundreds of boxes of food or produce ready to go out to people in our community! Kiewit employees believe in giving locally and supporting their community. Thanks Kiewit and Kiewit employees for all you do for our Solano County and Contra Costa County communities!

They Come…They Carry…They Care

It is said that the strength of a nonprofit lies in the hearts and minds of its volunteers. Working on the planning of our annual An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden fundraiser certainly substantiates that claim in so many ways. While volunteers make a difference every day at the Food Bank, during June and particularly on the day of this special event, they are an indispensable extension of our staff.  Whether it was setting up the event itself, warmly welcoming our guests as they arrived, quickly and efficiently getting people registered, serving at the lunch, assisting with the auctions and games, and then of course the clean up afterwards, our dedicated volunteers were a vital part of making an exceptional Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden on Sunday, June 24th.

NCL Rolling Hills and NCL Vista Oak mothers and daughters, the Contra Costa County Employees Team, the AT&T Pioneers, the Food Bank Ambassadors and numerous other individual volunteers helped throughout the day from early until late.  They wholeheartedly support our cause and really work to help us make a difference to all of those we serve. They are the “volunteer faces of the Food Bank” and we are so grateful for all that they do!

If you would like to volunteer at the Food Bank, please contact Sharon Zeppegno at or call 925.6767543, ext. 209.

ABC7 Listens

One of the easiest ways to help a nonprofit is to share their message. Thanks to ABC7 News, many local nonprofits were able to share their mission and needs with decision makers who could get the word out in a big way. ABC7 Morning News Co-Anchor Eric Thomas moderated a town hall meeting at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano in July where local nonprofits conveyed their concerns to an ABC7 executive panel headed by President and General Manager William Burton where they heard about the need and our effect in the community.

ABC7 News provided information on how to access the TV station for news stories and to promote non-profit events. The big issue of the evening was the need for social services in the community.

Stories have already aired as a result of the meeting including a local back to school backpack drive and a social services summit.

Thanks for listening, ABC!

Food, Fun and Friends in the Admiral’s Garden

A heartfelt thank you goes out to the hundreds of guests attending the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano’s 12th annual An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden presented by Pacific Service Credit Union, for making the day a fantastic success!   Even the weather was on board, giving us a beautiful sunny day with a cooling breeze drifting off the water.

One of our lucky Soroptimist guests won $2,500 in the California Pacific Federal Credit Union raffle!

Our guests enjoyed gourmet appetizers crafted by our celebrity chefs paired with fine wines in the Tasting Tents, and grooved to the soulful blues sounds of Big Cat Tolefree. Vigorous bidding took place in the Silent Auction Tents and in the Live Auction, and happy winners claimed their treasures.  Englund’s Catering served a delicious lunch in the garden while our creative auctioneer Donnie Schwartz played FUNdraising games with our guests. A wonderful treat after lunch was a variety of delicious cookies from the Family Cookie Company and Ice cream by Fentons Creamery!  Many guests took the opportunity to tour St. Peter’s Chapel with its beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows, and the Naval Museum as well as both historic mansions.

Chef Michael Dunn of Yankee Pier in Lafayette served up the “Filet Mignon of oysters”.

The day wrapped up with our second annual Cupcake War, where guests sampled scrumptious mini-cupcakes while our celebrity judges had the difficult task of picking a winner!   The day couldn’t have been more perfect, the icing on the cupcake being that the Food Bank raised over $121,000!  That’s the equivalent of 241,000 meals for those in need in our community. We hope you join us for next year’s extravaganza!



Farm 2 Kids Program Recognized by Kaiser

Guest post by Food Bank Grants Coordinator Don McCall – Farm 2 Kids provides 3-5 pounds of nutritious produce every week to low-income children in after school programs. The program not only received a very generous $25,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Napa-Solano this year, but the program was also honored with a second runner-up award in their First Annual Officer Jim Capoot Community Project of the Year Award.

The Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Department for the Napa-Solano area has been providing support in the form of grants for the Solano County distributions of our Farm 2 Kids Program since 2008. This year we received an additional honor for the program along with an additional $500. The Officer Jim Capoot Community Project of the Year Award is named in honor of the slain Vallejo police officer who lost his life last November in the line of duty. The award acknowledges organizations making an impact in the community and helping change the lives of underserved populations. The award was won by On the Move, a nonprofit agency working with the underserved in Napa.

The Leaven, a Fairfield agency that tutors children and is one of the Food Bank’s partner  agencies received the first runner-up award. The winners were selected from the 38 area nonprofit organizations who had already won big by receiving generous grants for their programs from Kaiser Napa-Solano.

Girl Scout Goes for the Gold

Hello! My name is Alexa Evans and I am working on my Gold Award project for Girl Scouts. I am preparing the first Climate Action and Sustainability Plan for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. I am working hard to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions which helps to reduce their costs! This way the Food Bank can use the money they saved to help people in need. In the plan I am writing about the measures they have already taken to be “green” and calculate the benefits of those measures. I will also be making future recommendations for the Food Bank so they can continue in the future to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. I will also make recommendations that will help them take the steps towards becoming a green business.

We’ll keep you updated with Alexa’s findings here! Now tell us your tips for “going green”.