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Archive for December, 2013

Looking Back at 2013

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: As we near the end of 2013, we are concerned about the needs of our hungry neighbors more than ever before. We are seeing record numbers of people at our food distributions, yet federal nutrition programs keep getting cut. In spite of this challenge, we are committed to helping end hunger in Contra Costa and Solano counties, and easing the burden of those in need. But we can’t do it without the help of our amazing community.

Twice per month, an average of 6,000 households in Contra Costa and Solano counties are able to take home 20+ pounds of fresh produce twice a month through the Community Produce Program. The people who support our work help put fresh produce on families’ tables.

One of those families belongs to Mauro A. Mauro used to work full-time but his hours have been cut and he just doesn’t make enough for a whole month of food. He really appreciates the selection of vegetables at the Community Produce Program. The Food Bank is now averaging one million pounds of produce every month going to your neighbors, people like Mauro. Thank you to our amazing community for everything you’ve helped accomplish this year. Together we are working to end hunger in our community.

Sons of Italy – Long Time Food Bank Supporters

Submitted by Lauren Strouse: The Food Bank is blessed to have many long term supporters. The Sons of Italy, Solano Lodge #2534 of Northern CA, is one of those. They have been making a financial contribution at holiday time since 2001. This year they presented a check for $500. They also volunteer at the Food Bank’s Fairfield warehouse on a quarterly basis. They are one of our most energetic and productive regular groups. Fifteen to twenty people typically show up for a Monday morning shift ready to sort and box food. They work together like a well-oiled machine. Our warehouse staff just keeps the food coming and the group does the rest! They usually sort in excess of 3000 pounds of food each time. The person responsible for coordinating this effort and energizing the group to work hard on our behalf is a bundle of energy named Joy Bruno. Joy is the organizations’ Food Bank Chair, responsible for all the scheduling and work done on behalf of the Food Bank. Joy was president of the club from 2005 to 2008 and is currently serving a second term as State Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of California of Sons of Italy. The Solano Sons of Italy lodge was founded in 1983. It currently has 165 members and is part of a nationwide philanthropic organization. We are very grateful for all of their support over the years!

Sons of Italy

Executive Director Larry Sly with members of The Sons of Italy, Solano Lodge #2534 of Northern CA

Donations Still Needed for Third Annual Faith Food Fridays’ Christmas Dinner Box and Toy Distribution

Guest Post: Faith Food Fridays founder and director Ben Buggs. This Friday, December 20th between 3 and 6pm, Faith Food Fridays will hold its third annual Christmas dinner box and toy distribution. The local food pantry that is supported by Faith Bible Church of Vallejo and the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano still needs donations of turkeys, chickens, hams and new or VERY gently used toys.

So far, 140 families have signed up – representing more than 400 children, between the ages of infants to 12 year of age, and we need your help.

We are anticipating a larger crowd than we had last year, based on how Thanksgiving went. Last year we served about 260 Thanksgiving dinners, this year it was 415. We believe that means our Christmas numbers will be greatly increased as well.

If you are able to donate, please drop off items at 901 Solano Ave. during business hours or across the street at 826 Solano Ave. on Thursday between 3-7pm. Monetary donations should be made out to “Faith Bible Church of Vallejo” with Faith Food Fridays on the memo line and dropped off or mailed to 901 Solano Ave., Vallejo, CA 94590.

Donations received so far have been meaningful, just last Sunday two gentlemen walked up during the church services with armloads of toys saying they wanted to ‘donate locally’ and had Googled the organization in order to help others as they had been helped in the past.

We are optimistic that we will be able to help everyone who shows up on Friday. We’re especially excited this time of year, to celebrate with our neighbors the birth of Jesus – since that’s the whole reason for the season.

Faith Food Fridays is located at 826 Solano Ave. More information can be found at www.faithfoodfridays.com or by calling (510) 978-2396.

Amazing Events Help Us Feed People In Need

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: One of the most interesting things I have found in my time with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is how diverse people’s interests can be. A big part of my job is to raise community support for the Food Bank’s work, so our job is to find ways we can join with other groups, each with distinct interests, to help feed our neighbors in need.

During the holiday season, we participate in some amazing events that help us feed people in need. Some examples include:

  • Instead of having a golf tournament, the Valero Benicia Refinery had a clay pigeon shoot. Refinery employees and their subcontractors raised money while having target practice.
  • We received funds from the annual coin show put on by the Diablo Numismatic Society.
  • Local realtors have networking groups and the Food Bank benefitted from the holiday parties of the Contra Costa Realtors in Motion and the Realtors Marketing Association of San Ramon.
  • Sunset Development provides financial support during their Christmas tree lighting.
  • Donations came from the Western States Petroleum Association’s holiday party
  • The Food Bank received money raised from the offering taken at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church during their performance of Handel’s Messiah.
Valero Clay Pigeons

Valero Benicia Refinery employees and their subcontractors raised money while having target practice.

While this list is just a sample of the way people help us in our work (and I apologize to the many people I did not include) it demonstrates that thousands of people with a wide range of interests agree that hunger should not exist in our community. I think everyone involved with the Food Bank knows, as a community we can do better. There should not be hungry children, there should not be hungry adults and there should not be hungry seniors. Hunger is unacceptable.

Give Where You Live and Join us for a Party with ABC7 at the Food Bank!

Join the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano (today!) December 10th between 4:00 and 7:00 pm as ABC7 broadcasts live from our warehouse in Concord. ABC7 will be live telling stories from Food Bank clients, member agencies, donors and volunteers. We will have pizza thanks to California Pizza Kitchen, games, and a festive atmosphere. Come by, bring a donation and meet Spencer Christian weather forecaster for ABC7 News at 4 and 6. Special appearance by Chef Ryan Scott (Food Rush) who will be discussing two recipes with Spencer during the 6 p.m. newscast. Attached are the recipes, cost per whole dish, and cost per serving breakdown for the carrot soup and shepherd’s pie.

For directions to the party click here !

Tenth Annual County Cares Food Fight

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: The Solano County Board of Supervisors recently challenged the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to “bring it on” for the tenth annual County Cares Food Fight. This friendly competition between employees of both counties is a way of sharing the holiday spirit with the people in need the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano serves. County employees volunteer their time in creative ways raising funds for the Food Bank so help can be there during the holiday season and beyond.

Bake sales, gently-used jewelry sales, and donations for a dress-down day all help the Food Bank’s work. County staff members have fun with the “competition” that exists between departments in each county so they can get bragging rights with their fellow employees. The energy and creativity people put into this drive shows that people truly care about those in need in their community. It also shows they know how to have a fun time as they make a difference.

The County Cup Food Fight benefits the Food Bank several ways. Obviously, the money makes a real difference. This drive has raised over one million dollars in the past nine years, and provides the Food Bank more than $120,000 each year to help our work. But this drive is as important in the sense of community it brings. It is a significant act when people work together to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Through their actions, county employees are saying that it is not acceptable for hungry people to exist in our communities. The money and energy they give are a statement that hunger is not acceptable in our community.

Community Produce Program: Realities from the Frontlines

William asked if he could have extra produce because “I don’t have enough food.”  A senior citizen said, “You don’t know how much this means to me.  It really helps me stretch my social security.”  A family of four with three children came up to the table and asked if they could pick up produce.  “I’m really hungry, we don’t have food at home,” said the young girl. We hear this from young people to seniors and everyone in-between.

These are a few of the many folks who come to the Community Produce Program for the Food Bank’s twice-monthly fresh produce distribution.  Five days a week, clients thank us for the produce and often mention this is their only access to fresh produce.  First timers are often surprised at the quality, variety and quantity of the produce.  Many tell us they have not had persimmons or apples in a long time.  One client was happy to see the persimmons, telling us he had not had one since he came to this country six years ago.

Thanks to support from the National Dairy Council the Food Bank is able to help a lot of working folks who simply do not make enough money to feed their families.  But more important than providing folks with enough food is providing them with the right food.  In partnership with Feeding America the National Dairy Council has developed a list of “Foods to Encourage” for food banks around the country to use as a guide to build healthier communities.  Creating a program that distributes nothing but fresh produce ensures our clients are receiving the most nutrient-rich food possible.

In addition to providing fresh produce, the Community Produce Program also includes a nutrition education component.  Many of these same clients tell us they like the nutrition information provided in the recipes and the engaging nutrition questions we ask.  Some try the recipes and let us know how they came out.  Many clients also learn something new about the featured produce, often being reminded to sauté, bake, or eat the fruits and vegetables whole.  For more information about the Community Produce Program or the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano please visit www.foodbankccs.org.