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Archive for February, 2013

Sequestration Update and Call for Immediate Action

This Friday, March 1, unless the Congress acts, automatic federal budget cuts under “sequestration” will go into effect. These cuts will impact a number of vital services critically-important to low-income people.

Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on the American Family Economic Protection Act (pdf), the Senate Democrats’ bill to avoid sequestration. The proposal would prevent cuts to education, public health, nutrition and other vital services by replacing them with more gradual cuts to the Pentagon, setting a minimum tax for millionaires and closing some corporate tax loopholes.

Take Action: Contact your Senators immediately and urge them to vote for the American Family Economic Act when the bill comes up for a vote tomorrow afternoon (Feb. 28).

dc-capitol

Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Phone:(202) 224-3841

 

Sen. Barbara Boxer

Phone:(202) 224-3553

 

Here is a sample of what could happen if these budget cuts go into effect:

  • 600,000 low-income women and young children could be cut from the WIC program
  • 19 million fewer meals for seniors from programs like Meals on Wheels
  • 5,000,000 fewer low-income families receiving prenatal health care and other services that help decrease infant mortality and improve maternal health
  • 112,190 fewer victims of domestic violence receiving services
  • 750,000 Americans losing their jobs
  • $2.4 million cut from funding food banks need to store and distribute food at a time of increased demand and tightened resources.

Questions? Please contact me (Lisa Sherrill) at (925) 676-7543 extension 206 or lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.

 

Seniors Choose Between Groceries and Medicine

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: After a lifetime of work, many seniors are living on fixed incomes that often force them to choose between paying for health care or buying groceries. Because seniors often need medication to maintain their health, many elderly Americans must choose between medicine and the foods they need to stay healthy.

Limited mobility and dependence on outside assistance makes seniors particularly vulnerable to hunger. Food insecurity among this vulnerable population is especially troublesome because they have unique nutritional needs and may require special diets for medical conditions.

According to Hunger in America 2010, among client households with seniors, 30 percent have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care.

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano provides groceries twice a month to seniors right in their own communities and partners with other nonprofit organizations to get food to those seniors that need it most.

One of the first direct distributions the Food Bank established was the Senior Food Program. Beginning with 50 recipients, we have grown the Senior Food Program to 3,300 seniors at 28 sites in Solano and Contra Costa counties. Last year, more than 1.3 million pounds of food went to the senior citizens who participate in this program.

Senior hunger is of particular importance in Contra Costa and Solano counties, where so many seniors rely on the Food Bank each month to put food on their tables.

As our elected officials make decisions about state and federal budgets, it’s important that our community know that many of our seniors right here in Contra Costa and Solano counties rely on both federal nutrition programs and food banks to get by each month.

To learn more about how you can help, please visit www.foodbankccs.org/seniorhunger.

Little Faces

Today I was reminded why I work for the Food Bank.  During my normal Sunday grocery shopping trip, I heard someone say “That woman just pushed a whole shopping cart of groceries out the door!”  Within seconds, several employees ran after her.  I was near the front door and it was easy to see the commotion.  An old van was parked just outside the front door.  The mattress tied to the top indicated the family was homeless. A man sat in the drivers seat and two little wide-eyed kids watched  as mom and the cart of groceries was escorted back into the store. As they walked past me the mom repeated “I’ll pay!  I’ll pay!” At this point I continued shopping.  A few minutes later I overheard a clerk say that when they ran her credit card, it was denied. Fortunately for this family, she was allowed to leave without prosecution. I was grateful that the staff recognized a family in crisis.

I looked for the family in the parking lot but they were gone.  I wanted to tell them about the Food Bank resources like Food for Children and the partner agencies with emergency food pantries like the Bay Area Crisis Nursery (for her small children) and the family homeless shelter. I hope I see them again.  I also hope they reach out to help, because it is available.

What a sad reminder about the necessity of the Food Bank and other nonprofit agencies. I don’t think I will forget this family and the little scared faces peering out the van windows. Although this scene will haunt me, I am happy that I was at Safeway when this happened. This was a highly motivating experience.  This is why I work at the Food Bank.

If you know someone in need of food assistance, please visit www.foodbankccs.org or call 1.855.309.FOOD

Kathy Gleason
Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager
Food Bank of contra Costa and Solano

State of the Union Message Hits Home

In this politically charged time, the State of the Union address represents different things to different people. Depending on the analysis you hear, it either represents a statement of values or an overt political document.

From my point of view, I am pleased that the president acknowledged the issues low-income people face in our society. I agree with the president that it is not right that people who work should have to come to food banks to get enough food for their families. As good as the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is at providing food to low-income people, we should not be seen as our nation’s first response to hunger.

When I began with the Food Bank in 1976, we were supporting a group of charitable food pantries that provided emergency help to people having difficulty receiving government assistance. Through the years, food banks throughout the country have moved from this partnership distribution model to becoming direct service providers themselves.

Food Bank direct distribution such as the Community Produce Program, Senior Food Program, or Farm to Kids provides millions of pounds of food directly to those in need. Our service is no longer solely for emergencies; we are now providing supplemental food directly to those who need help because, otherwise, the cost of living may mean going without groceries.

I hope the State of the Union address is the start of a conversation about how we help poor people in our country on a larger scale.

Half the people we serve have a working individual in the family, so the discussion about raising the minimum wage needs to take place.

We are providing 9,000 low-income children with fresh produce every week, so I would like to push President Obama to carry out his pledge to eliminate childhood hunger by 2015. We can be better as a society. I think the time is now.

 

Fighting Hunger is Only an Empty Bowl Away

Photo by Linda Elsdon

A fellow co-worker and I were painting bowls for our Empty Bowls event the other day and she shared with me how it is one of her favorite Food Bank fundraisers.  That got me thinking, what is it about Empty Bowls that makes it so special?  Maybe it’s the fact that it goes beyond being just a fundraiser, it goes beyond being just a Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano event.  It is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger whose basic premise is simple: Potters, craftspeople and others in the community contribute handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread, and to meet local activists from their own community and hear how they are working to end hunger and food insecurity.   In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in their community. The money raised goes directly to feed people in need.

A simple idea ,yet is the collective passion and effort of all the people involved that has made Empty Bowls what it has become. Events have now taken place across the United States and in at least a dozen other countries. Many millions of dollars have been raised and donated to hunger-fighting organizations.  It is a project spread through individual communities that has touched people on a global scale.

A key component to Empty Bowls is people.  You.  Me.  Our family and friends.  Local businesses who provid
e sponsorship and volunteer time, such as Chevron,  CBS5, Diablo Magazine and and the AppelLaw Firm in Walnut Creek.  Together we can share a meal, raise awareness and be part of something great.   Everyone is invited to the table.  Won’t you join us?

Register for Empty Bowls, Concord, March 9th 5-7pm

Register for Empty Bowls, Fairfield, March 10th 3-5pm

Tell the Senate Your Ideas for a Fair Budget

Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee is encouraging you to share your ideas for how our elected officials can address our country’s budget challenges responsibly. MyBudget is an online platform for members of the public to weigh in as our nation works to tackle our budget and economic challenges.

Go to http://budget.senate.gov/democratic/index.cfm/mybudget  to share your stories about how federal budget decisions have impacted your family, your community, and your job, and let the senate know what issues they should be focused on.

Here’s what Chairman Murray is asking you to do:

Share your story

Budget decisions aren’t just about numbers and charts—they have real impacts on real people and communities. Your stories should be heard so we can help members of Congress understand what’s at stake for the families and communities they represent.

What are your budget priorities?

Budgets are all about setting priorities, and Chairman Murray is asking to hear about yours. Share what federal investments and programs you value in the federal budget (ex: safe roads and bridges, affordable college education, a strong national security, etc.) and if there are programs, policies, or tax loopholes that the federal government spends money on that you think it shouldn’t.

Tell us your ideas

The federal government needs to strengthen programs like Medicare so they will be there for the next generation. What are your ideas?

Kraft Rolls Out a ‘Farmers’-Market-On-Wheels’ for the Food Bank

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is fighting hunger one mile at a time with the gift of a new Kraft Mobile Pantry truck.  The refrigerated vehicle will hit the road to bring a fresh produce to low-income areas in the community, expanding the reach of the Food Bank while delivering fresh fruit and vegetables.

 This truck is part of a nationwide fleet being rolled out by Kraft Foods Foundation (now known as Mondelēz International Foundation) and Feeding America, to reach those hardest hit with food insecurity. The mobile pantry will be used as part of the Food Bank’s Community Produce Program to expand the service area to West Contra Costa and Solano county to bring approximately 20 pounds per person of four to seven types of produce to three distribution sites per day serving 50-200 people, depending upon the site and location, at a time when the need has never been greater.

 Here in Contra Costa and Solano counties, 1 in 4 of our neighbors face food insecurity.  We’re seeing more residents reaching out for food assistance than ever before.   The Kraft Mobile Pantry could not come at a better time to help us increase the number of clients and areas we are able to reach.

 Fighting hunger is not new for Kraft.  The company has partnered with Feeding America for decades to do just that.  The mobile pantry program is one of many programs making a difference in communities where the company’s employees live and work.

Forma Gym Puts Hunger on the Run

The mission at Forma Gym is simple, “We change lives”.   Forma Gym is the premier training and fitness facility in the East Bay, dedicated to helping its 3,600 members get results.  On Thanksgiving, the Walnut Creek Forma Gym lived up to its mission by holding the 20th annual Turkey Trot, to motivate people to “move their feet before they eat”!  Not only do they want to share their passion for health and wellness in our community, but they turned that passion into an amazing fundraiser and invited the Food Bank to be one of the beneficiaries.  In those 20 years the Turkey Trot has grown from a 5k event for its members to a charity 5k & 10k run/walk, and a kids’ ½ mile, ¼ mile, 100 yard fun run that involves 6,000 runners and walkers including  kids from over 20 different schools.

In 2011 they began collecting food donations for us and continued that effort in 2012 but then also expanded that support by including a generous $5,000 donation and 200 turkeys to be distributed through our partner agencies.    It just goes to show how grass root efforts can benefit an entire community

Owner President/CEO Robert Jackson and Program/Race Director Bob Boos, worked hard  to spread the word to the community and media in hopes that people and other small businesses like theirs would support a healthy tradition and a great cause.  It was a morning to remember and we return the favor by putting nutritious produce and healthy food on the table of children, families, and seniors in our community!