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Archive for October, 2012

Girl Scout Make a Difference Day

Post by Lauren Strouse of the Food Bank Fairfield office: The Fairfield warehouse was filled with the sound of excited girls on Saturday, October 27th, during the Food Bank’s Girl Scout Make a Difference Day Event. One hundred and twenty girls between the ages of six and sixteen participated, accompanied by forty-six adults. They toured the warehouse, played Food Twister, crafted healthy lunch choices, and bagged 3654 pounds of oranges. Troops also donated 324 pounds of nonperishable food. Ten girls  from Vallejo Troops #20132 and #20133 and Vacaville Troops #20358 and #20361 , helped to plan and implement this event, including designing the Food Twister game and developing the craft activity.

Today — October 22 — is the last day to register to vote!

We urge you to register to vote in the election on Tuesday, November 6.

If you live in California, it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

1. REGISTER

2. GET INFORMED

  • Find out what’s on your local ballot at www.smartvoter.org: type in your address to get your polling place and the list of races on your ballot, along with links to candidate statements and summaries of propositions.

3. VOTE!

  • Once registered, go to the polls on or before November 6!
  • If you prefer to vote by mail, request a vote-by-mail ballot from your County Elections Office no later than October 30, and be sure to mail it well in advance of November 6!

 

Donations of Healthy Food Make a Difference

Originally posted in the Vacaville reporter: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano distributed 16 million pounds of food last year and we are extremely proud of the fact that 6 million of that was fresh fruits and vegetables. As part of the Food Bank’s mission, we strive to provide nutritious food to our community and fresh produce is a large part of that.

Nonperishable food items will always be a vital resource for the Food Bank and your donation of nonperishables means variety for the partner agencies we serve.

To be able to provide the community with the healthiest food possible, canned meats, whole grains, nuts, beans, canned fruits and vegetables are all great options to donate.

Some examples are:
Tuna
Peanut butter (in plastic container)
Canned chicken
Brown rice
Whole-grain dry cereals
Whole-grain pastas
Canned fruits, packed in juice instead of syrup
Dried fruits (no added sugar)
Canned soups, beans and legumes
Lentils
Low-sodium soups

Other great things to donate include whole unsalted nuts and seeds, honey and dried spices.

Protein is one of the more expensive items for the people we serve, so donation of nonperishable, quality proteins greatly helps those with limited access to these items. Canned fish and other meats are great forms of protein in a longer lasting, useful form.

When deciding what to donate, consider what you and your family and friends like to eat. Think about what kinds of pantry staples you use. Just as you strive to provide the best food possible for your family, the Food Bank provides quality food to the people we serve. Nutritious foods make the biggest impact.

Please remember, if that canned item has been sitting in the back of the pantry for an unknown amount of time and/or it is more than one year past the expiration date, it’s probably best to leave that donation at home. Also, we are unable to accept alcohol of any kind, home-canned goods or opened packages/jars. Finally, no glass please.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what food you give and how much to donate. However, please remember that your donations are a fundamental part of our goal to provide the healthiest, most useful food to our community.

Our website has further information on how to donate and how to start your own food drive. Please visit www.foodbankccs.org.

 

Wired for Giving

“I feel extremely fortunate to work with such a caring group of people who, much like the Food Bank, are always ready to help out.” said Mark Sheeley, of Contra Costa Electric, Inc., when speaking recently about the generous employees at his company.

Contra Costa Electric and its’ employees have been contributing to the Food Bank for many years, donating food, turkeys, and money. Contra Costa Electric and its’ employees have been contributing to the Food Bank for many years, donating food, turkeys, and money. They were a 2012 sponsor for Admiral’s Garden, and in September, rather than a donation of $500 or even $1000, they contributed $3500 to the Refinery Run, because their business is doing so well.  Contra Costa Electric believes in giving back; they also provide ACE mentors for high school students, contribute to overseas troops, as well as the “Taking Kid Safety to the Street,” program which draws attention to the plight of missing children.

Employees at Contra Costa Electric who go above and beyond receive the Diamond Award and their Pink Hard Hat Program is October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a quality company in so very many wonderful ways. The Food Bank is grateful to be the beneficiary of Contra Costa Electric’s philanthropic efforts and the contributions of its’ caring employees.

Taking Schools to the Next Level: School Pantries Feed the Minds of Tomorrow

Fall is generally a time of great excitement for school-age kids; it means a new year with a new teacher, new friends, and new beginnings.  Schools serve as so much more than a place where a child learns math or geography, but as a center and safe gathering place for the community surrounding it.  For the 1 out of 4 children who struggle with hunger every day, it can also serve as a place where you can they can count on receiving the food they need to learn and thrive.  The Food Bank has fostered partnerships with schools over the past five years, creating the Farm 2 Kids program that provides five pounds of fresh produce to over 9,000 children at 80 sites each week.  To take these partnerships even further, the Food Bank created a School Pantry program that provides shelf-stable food to high school students in need.

The School Pantries are located on school grounds and run by a school staff member.  This way food can be given out discreetly to avoid any embarrassment that many students already experience during high school years.  The office manager of one high school realized a girl at school was not eating anything except for the free lunch she received at school.  When she spoke with this girl, the student explained that her dad has diabetes and they spend all of their money on buying him special foods.  Sometimes there is just not enough for her brothers and sisters.  She is now able to pick out the foods her family can eat like brown rice, canned vegetables without salt and low-sugar cereals.  This represents a need that the Food Bank would not be able to identify on their own.  Through these strategic partnerships the Food Bank is able to help students of all ages in a way that makes them confident, happy and ready to learn.

The Food Bank is able to maintain programs like school pantries and Farm 2 Kids with support from a generous community. Find out how to donate on our website.

 

West Contra Costa and Solano Produce Sites Needed

Our Community Produce Program is expanding into West Contra Costa and Solano counties come early 2013.  This program provides free produce to low income individuals and families.  The Food Bank will distribute fresh fruits and vegetables directly off of a beverage-style truck at one hour distributions throughout the region.  We are currently looking for community organizations to partner with in these areas.  Some factors we must consider are:

  • Is the organization in a high-need area?
  • Is there a good-sized and well-lit parking lot?
  • Will the organization provide volunteers during the one hour distribution?
  • Will the organization aid in publicizing the program?

If you think that your organization would be a good match, fill out the form below and we will contact you shortly.

CalFresh Helps Individuals and Business Community

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter – The vision of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is this: Through our efforts, we can assure every person in need in the community that they will be able to receive one meal a day. It is an ambitious goal because even though we are serving more than 130,000 people each month and distributing 17 million pounds of food each year, the number of people coming to us indicates there is much more to do.

Several years ago, we recognized we could make a difference by helping people enroll in the CalFresh program (the new name for food stamps). We have staff members who go to food distribution sites and help people understand what they need to do to enroll in the CalFresh program. We work with county enrollment workers at “train the trainer” workshops to create a network of people who can help those coming for food assistance enroll in the CalFresh program.

Because of the economic downturn and community enrollment efforts, participation in the CalFresh program has increased dramatically in Solano County. More than 20,000 households (more than 40,000 individuals) in Solano County are receiving CalFresh — 9.6 percent of the entire county. These households are trying to survive on an income of 130 percent of the poverty rate (approximately $29,976 for a family of four). Helping people enroll in the CalFresh program provides people with the money they need to buy food for their family.

I hope the work we do helps people understand that CalFresh is a nutrition program that brings federal dollars into our community, where it is spent in our local grocery stores. For every CalFresh dollar that comes into a community, $3 of economic activity is generated.

Like the school lunch program or the senior meal program, CalFresh exists so we can help feed our neighbors. I am grateful the CalFresh program exists for the 1 in 10 who needs it today.

Hunger is Closer Than You Think

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: Americans don’t always recognize how pervasive hunger is, or that it is a problem where they live. In our communities, it is often hidden by families that don’t want to share their economic struggles. Sometimes it hides behind doors of nice houses with mortgages in default or the heat turned off. Often it goes unseen by those not looking for it.

But we know that Americans in every community are hungry. According to the Food Research and Action Center, 1 in 6 people living in Contra Costa and Solano counties struggle with hunger.

We know that hunger is a challenge, but we also know there is a solution. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP, or what we used to call food stamps — has been there to help families in need.

As jobs disappeared and wages shrank, SNAP was helped struggling Americans put food on the table. Its responsiveness to unemployment proved it to be one of the most effective safety-net programs during the recent recession.

This program also is working for millions of low-income Americans. The Census Bureau found that SNAP lifted 3.9 million Americans above the poverty line in 2010, including 1.7 million children and 280,000 seniors. SNAP not only lifts millions above the poverty line but, according to this new research, SNAP lessens economic hardships for many other Americans who have the lowest incomes in our nation.

SNAP is a lifeline for families like Henry’s. Henry lost his factory job more than a year ago and with three kids, preschool-age and younger, he hasn’t been able to make ends meet, even with his fiancé working full-time at a bank. With the Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the help of SNAP, Henry is better able to provide for his family until he can find work again.

Yet recent legislation and proposals in Congress, including the upcoming Farm Bill, would cut this program.

Let’s be clear that any cut to SNAP is a cut to benefits. For example, the Senate plan for the Farm Bill includes a cut of $4.4 billion over 10 years to SNAP. Put in real terms, that proposal could trigger sizable reductions in monthly SNAP benefits for many households — an estimated 500,000 households a year would lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits.

That’s not an accounting fix. That’s less money for struggling households to purchase food. Congress must reject attempts to balance the budget by taking from those who have the least.

Join our online advocate community at www.foodbankccs.org/advocate to get involved.