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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.

Look Who’s Helping for the Holidays

Michael Courchaine with Food Bank Executive Director Larry Sly

Guest post by Lois CourchaineAll told, Contra Costans are a pretty close knit bunch. And, when it comes to helping those in need in our communities, we all pitch in to make a difference.

As this holiday season kicks off, we are especially concerned about people at risk of hunger. There is no mission as great as ensuring that all our community members have enough to eat; not only during the holiday season, but all year long.

And members of a local labor union, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE – Local 21) are stepping up again this year to do what they can to help. For the second year in a row, the Local 21 Union members decided to forego their annual holiday party and donate those funds to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

On November 19th, Local 21’s Executive Board Member, Michael Courchaine, presented the Food Bank’s Executive Director Larry Sly with a check for $1,000. Sue Guest, President of Local 21 would like to challenge other Contra Costa labor organizations to do the same. “With food insecurity increasing at such rapid pace in our county, we need our fellow unions to help out in any way they can,” states Sue.

For more information on donating to help the hungry in Contra Costa, please visit: http://www.foodbankccs.org/give-help/donate.html or call (925) 676-7543.

Boy Scouts Go Door-to-Door to Collect Food for Bay Area Food Banks on Nov. 16

Nationwide food drive helps meet crucial need for Thanksgiving 

Originally posted on the Bay Area Food Banks blog: One of the nation’s largest single-day food drives takes place Saturday, Nov. 16, when Boy Scouts will go door-to-door collecting nonperishable food items for local food banks.

In the Bay Area, more than 30,000 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venturers, Explorers and their supporters will be “Scouting for Food” by picking up boxed or bagged nonperishable food items placed on doorsteps by 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.

The San Francisco Bay Area Council, which encompasses the City of San Francisco and the County of Alameda, collected 148,000 pounds of food last year. The Council’s goal is to collect 160,000 pounds of food this year. Other Boy Scout Councils of the Greater Bay Area will also be participating in the drive resulting in approximately 500,000 pounds of food being collected.

Residences on the Scouts’ collection routes will receive a door-hanger promoting the drive this Saturday, Nov. 9. Residents who do not receive a door-hanger are not on a collection route, but they can still contribute by dropping off donations on Nov. 16 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at locations listed below or at www.bayareahunger.org.

Scout troops are also hosting online Virtual Food Drives to help raise money for food banks to purchase their most-needed food items.

Community Need Greater Than Ever

“The need in our communities is as great as ever. With cuts in SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, we expect to see new families turning to food banks for help,” said Paul Ash, executive director of the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks. “Food banks rely on the Scouting for Food drive to provide healthy staples and much welcomed variety that will go directly to families during the holidays.”

Tim Buchen of the San Francisco Bay Area Council of Boy Scouts of America says working together as a community is one step Bay Area residents can take toward ending hunger.

“There’s always a great need to feed the hungry and we feel that food donation to the community can help accomplish that,” Buchen says. “One of the key components of the Boy Scouts is to a good turn, and the Scouting for Food drive is truly an opportunity for kids to help others.”

Whole Foods Market, Safeway, and Berkeley Bowl locations throughout the Bay Area have in-store barrels to accept donations for Bay Area food banks throughout the holiday season.

Boy Scouts Contact                                                                                                                      

Tim Buchen, San Francisco Bay Area Council, Boy Scouts of America
(510) 577-9000 x 207 tim.buchen@scouting.org

Food Bank Contacts

Alameda County Community Food Bank
Michael Altfest (510) 684-8655 maltfest@accfb.org

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
Lisa Sherrill (925) 408-7655 lsherrill@foodbankccs.org

San Francisco and Marin Food Banks
Blain Johnson (415) 282-1900, ext 270 bjohnson@sffb.org

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
Caitlin Kerk (408) 858-9208 ckerk@shfb.org

Note to media: Feel free to list any of the Scouting for Food drop-off sites on Saturday (Nov. 16), listed below, in your coverage area (sites are also listed on www.bayareahunger.org). Site hours differ, but 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. is generally accurate. For coverage purposes, these sites provide great visuals and interviews. All Bay Area Food Banks will be open on Saturday afternoon to receive and sort truck shipments from Scouting for Food collections sites.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY 
Antioch
Antioch Latter Day Saints Church
3013 Rio Grande Drive

Antioch Latter Day Saints Stake Center
2350 Jeffery Way

Brentwood
Brentwood Latter Day Saints Church
1101 McClarren Road

Concord
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
4010 Nelson Ave.

Farm Bureau Hall
5554 Clayton Road

Oak Grove Latter Day Saints Church
2930 Treat Blvd.

Danville
Danville Latter Day Saints Stake Center
655 Old Orchard Drive

Discovery Bay
Fire Station #59
1685 Bixler Road

Richmond

Hilltop Latter Day Saints Church
4351 Hilltop Drive

Lafayette

Moraga Latter Day Saints Church
3776 Via Granada

Pleasant Hill
Pleasant Hill Latter Day Saints Church
555 Boyd Road

SOLANO COUNTY 

Benicia
Benicia City Park
250 E. L St.

Fairfield
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
2339 Courage Drive, Suite F

Vallejo
Elks Lodge
2850 Redwood Parkway

ALAMEDA COUNTY

Berkeley
St. Mary Magdalen School
2005 Berryman St.

Castro Valley
Proctor Elementary School
7520 Redwood Road

Fremont
Latter Day Saints Church
3551 Decoto Road

Hayward 
Southland Mall
660 West Winton Ave. (Sears Auto Mall parking lot)
Livermore
Lucky Supermarket
2000 Portola Blvd.

Pleasanton 
Walmart
4501 Rosewood Drive

Oakland
Alameda County Community Food Bank
7900 Edgewater Drive

Montclair Elementary School
1757 Mountain Blvd., south parking lot

Grocery Outlet
2900 Broadway

San Leandro
Boy Scout Office/Leadership Training Center
1001 Davis St.

MARIN COUNTY

Novato
Marin Food Bank
75 Digital Drive

San Rafael
Boy Scouts of America
225 West End Avenue

SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY 

San Francisco
San Francisco Food Bank
900 Pennsylvania Ave.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY

Los Altos
Los Altos City Hall
One North San Antonio Road

Mountain View
El Camino Hospital
2500 Grant Road

Palo Alto
Latter Day Saints Church
3865 Middlefield Road

San Jose
Second Harvest Food Bank
750 Curtner Ave.

SAN MATEO COUNTY

San Carlos
Second Harvest Food Bank
1051 Bing Street

Half Moon Bay
Coastside Hope
214 Harvard Ave.

Pacifica
Pacifica Resource Center
1
809 Palmetto Ave.

South San Francisco
SSF Citadel Corps Community Center/Salvation Army
409 S. Spruce St.

 

Old School Savings

By Food Bank Board Member Jill Steele: For today’s breakfast I made Jiffy corn muffins.  Jiffy is a basic muffin mix brand dating back to the 1930s that hasn’t changed much and is really inexpensive.  I was able to buy two boxes for $1.38 which yielded 12 large muffins after just adding in 2 eggs and some milk.  The kids will be able to eat the muffins for breakfast as well as an afternoon snack

Lunch today will be leftovers from last night.  My wonderful husband made chicken adobo and rice using another amazing deal from Safeway.  Chicken leg pieces were on sale for 99 cents/pound.  So this dinner and lunch will end up costing less than $10.

For dinner tonight I planned on making a pasta dish, but I will be working late and need to get my kids to different activities right around dinner time.  Wednesday is a night we usually eat out due to our busy schedules so we may resort to another super Safeway deal of frozen burritos that I got for 40 cents each.  I usually read ingredient labels very closely, but tonight we are probably going to trade off high-quality and healthy ingredients for cost and convenience.

Jill is participating in the Hunger Challenge with her husband and three children. Read her first two posts here. To learn more about the Challenge visit www.foodbankccs.org/hungerchallenge.

Hunger Challenge Slashes Budgets

By Food Bank Board Member Jill Steele: I decided to take the Hunger Challenge and see what it is like to eat on $4.50 per day.  By taking the Hunger Challenge we are committing to eat all of our meals this week from a limited food budget comparable to that of a SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) recipient.  We are a family of five, so our total weekly budget is $112.50.  This is a pretty big reduction from what we normally spend on food.  I usually spend between $150-200/week on groceries, plus we eat out once or twice for dinner and my husband and I often eat out for lunch and grab coffee for a total of about $300/week on food.  

When we decided to do this challenge we sat down with our two older children to explain what we were doing this week and why.  We explained that there are many people in America (1 in 6) that don’t know where their next meal is going to come from and that many of those people are children (1 in 4 people receiving emergency food are children).  By eating on a SNAP budget and blogging about it, we hope to raise awareness for people that may not know where their next meal is coming from.  We also thought that it would be good for them to learn more about budgeting and healthy eating. 

I am a working mom with three kids, so I often rely on prepared foods and/or take out to manage our busy schedules.  Knowing that I won’t be able to do that this week, I spent almost the entire day (Sunday), planning what we are going to eat, grocery shopping, and preparing food for the week.  I started out the day planning what we would eat for the entire week (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) and estimating whether or not we could get it all within our SNAP budget.  I didn’t clip coupons, but did leverage the Safeway Just For U app which helped me save over 30% on my grocery bill which ended up costing $84.00.  We have a couple of items already in our house (milk, pears, sunbutter, rice, popcorn, spices) that we will use for our meals this week, so I wanted to try and be under the $112.50 budget.   I realized that the only way to make this budget work, was to not rely on pre-packaged convenience foods and to make more of our meals/snacks from scratch.  I then spent about three hours preparing food including home-made granola, granola bars, and banana chocolate chip muffins.  All of these foods will save us a significant amount of money, but did “cost” me a lot of time.   

I am hoping that this will be a good learning experience for the entire family and will help to raise awareness for those who are food insecure and don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Day 2: Stretching your food

One of my tactics for living on a SNAP budget this week is to stretch our food.  This is something that my grandparents’ generation used to do a lot to make precious ingredients like meat go farther.

Our meal for dinner last night was stir-fried pork and green beans.  This is a pretty regular meal in our house, but to stretch it into two meals (dinner and next day’s lunch) I did two things: 1) added more green beans, and 2) served it with more rice. 

Knowing that we wanted to use this meal for lunch the next day, I made sure we didn’t  eat more than half for dinner.  Because of that I ate less than I normally would – assuming I would be fine given a late afternoon snack I had.  This morning I woke up before my alarm went off feeling hungry.  This was something I normally don’t feel and I realized it was probably due to controlling how much I ate last night to ensure we had enough for lunch today. 

This feeling of hunger gave me a moment to reflect on what we are doing with the Hunger Challenge and to remember the 149,000 people that the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano serves each month.

 

It’s not too late to join the Hunger Challenge. To learn more and sign up, visit www.foodbankccs.org/hungerchallenge.

El Cerrito Neighborhood Takes on Hunger one Green Bag at a Time

By Neil Zarchin, Food Bank Grants Coordinator: The Neighborhood Food Project was launched in Ashland, Oregon in 2009, and has since expanded to many parts of the country.

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is one of the first Food Banks to adapt the program to a county-wide operation rather than to support just one food pantry.  Our Neighborhood Food Project is a donor drive more than a food drive because instead of asking for one-time contributions of food, our volunteer Neighborhood Coordinators enlist their neighbors to become long-term Food Donors by leaving a bag of food on their porches for pickup every two months.  Here’s the story of a new Neighborhood Food Project in West Contra Costa County that is following the classic Ashland model  and doing a great job!

In February 2013, residents of a quiet corner of El Cerrito in West Contra Costa County decided to be among the first to participate.  A neighborhood organization already existed, so when the idea was proposed the infrastructure for the project was already in place. There is some concern for privacy, so the neighborhood won’t be named.

The idea was first brought up at a Holiday block party. Having already used the neighborhood email list to promote the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive, it was an easy step to transfer to the protocol of the NFP.

An email asking for a Neighborhood Coordinator went out to neighbors on the email group list and Dee, stepped up to the task.  She received training and the necessary materials from the Food Bank and then in March, she sent out an email to the group of neighbors explaining the incredibly easy program of neighbors leaving a bag of food on their porches every two months for Dee to collect for the Food Bank.  As each household emailed her to join , she left an empty, reusable Food Project bag on their porch containing extra informational flyers to give out to other neighbors who might not be in the email group. By the Pickup Day in April, a dozen families had already enrolled for their area’s inaugural collection. All twelve families who signed up participated (a couple of reminder emails were sent) and a 100% collection participation was achieved!

On the first pickup on Saturday, April 13th , as Dee walked the neighborhood collecting the bags from her neighbors’ porches in her radio flyer wagon, a few more neighbors approached her and she signed them up on the spot for the next Pickup Day in mid-June.  The neighborhood area also expanded from the one major street to neighbors living on adjacent streets.  By the second pick up, the number of food donors almost doubled! And even though one family forgot to put out their bag on that June morning (Dee did collect it later), another gentleman seeing her pulling a little red wagon filled with green bags of food down his street, not only stopped her to sign up for the next collection in mid-August, but also spontaneously took the empty food bank bag given him for the next collection, ran into his house shortly reemerging with his bag of food donation for that morning’s collection too.

And of course as the number of neighbors sign up and participate, the amount of food donated by her neighborhood, collected and delivered to the Contra Costa food by Dee, is increasing. She takes a few pictures of their food collection as it’s received by Joan Tomasini at the Food Bank warehouse on Pickup Days and emails them along with thanks to her amazing neighbors and they are gratified to know and see that they are helping so much to provide healthy food for people in need on a regular basis.

Just imagine how much food the hungry could have if every neighborhood did what these folks do.  As Dee, says, who knew that giving needed food donations on a regular bi-monthly neighborhood donor system could be so easy and be such a source of satisfaction and pleasure for all involved.

One more thing – the first collection back in April was 173 lbs., June was 243, August up to 314 – great progress!!

To join the Food Project or learn more, visit www.ccsfoodproject.org.

Local Caterer Brings Support to the Table

Guest post by Leslie Mladinich: The day you will enjoy at the annual fundraiser, An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden, on June 23 equals many meals for hungry local residents who rely on the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano for their monthly nutrition and meal-planning.

And no one knows how far this support will go than Derry Englund, owner of Englud’s Cafe and Catering in Concord, the local business that will be catering the Food Bank’s most important fundraiser with a gourmet lunch. His support of the Food Bank goes back nearly two decades.

When the Food Bank first approached Derry many years ago to ask if he would cater a fundraiser, he had just moved Englund’s – which was founded in 1988 – to its Port Chicago Highway location. Derry thought the Food Bank “was in some church basement somewhere.”

Working with staff and visiting the Concord warehouse “was a real eye-opener to me,” he said.

“What I like to tell people about the Food Bank is the number of meals covered. When people picture the Food Bank, I think they picture something small. But in actuality, you can drive a semi-truck into the freezer,” Derry says with a laugh.

Before founding Englund’s, he was in the meat retail business. Along with catering weddings and other special events, he sees Englund’s role as vital to helping the community by catering nonprofit events at a great value so resources can go to help clients. Derry, a lifelong resident of the Concord and Clayton area, helps the community in other ways as well. Englund’s Catering Service donates food directly to area shelters, Derry helps veterans’ associations and before he founded the company, he worked in youth services. Englund’s also caters the Chamber of Commerce mixers held at the Food Bank and is a favorite lunch spot for Food Bank employees.

Working with food every day, Derry sees there is plenty to go around. “Hunger should not be an issue in the United States,” said Derry,

He challenges Admiral’s Garden participants to take a closer look at the Food Bank.

“I always challenge them to go out and look at the location and take a tour,” said Derry. “It has such an incredible responsibility for so many people.”

Englund’s Café and Catering is located at 4061 Port Chicago Hwy in Concord. Find them on the web at www.englundscatering.com

To reserve your place at An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden, visit www.theeventofthesummer.com.

 

 

Assemblymember Yamada Takes the Hunger Challenge – Day 5

Guest post by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada: Filing my final entry for the 2013 Hunger Challenge, Day 5.  Having participated for the past five consecutive years as a state legislator, and previous years as a county supervisor and at times as an “average citizen” over my almost forty years of public service, what is striking to me is the constancy of two dynamics:  continuing hunger in America, and the consistent mischaracterization of those who depend upon SNAP benefits.

Is there hunger in America?  Yes.  The facts are incontrovertible:  http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm

Has SNAP been an effective program?  I say yes:  http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/

For last night’s dinner, I finished the brown rice and remaining chicken thigh, and scavenged some of the zucchini that I cooked with the spaghetti and pasta sauce made on Monday night.  Drank a little bit of remaining juice and coffee for my liquids.

Breakfast on this last day was coffee only,  and lunch one of two remaining overripe bananas and the last yogurt.  With today’s temperatures soaring past 100 degrees, I am drinking tap water to stay hydrated.

What I’ve missed most this whole week is… dessert!  People who know me understand J

So, as I finish my 2013 Hunger Challenge, I will finish up the last of the spaghetti and have some wheat toast, and end with that single Odwalla bar that I bought for a week end treat.   I will have perhaps 3 slices of bread leftover from the week.

I want to thank all who participated in the 2013 Hunger Challenge with me, or who read about our experiences.  In doing so, I hope that there were some aspects of the issues that were new or involved additional thinking.

Let’s all recommit ourselves to ending hunger and poverty in America by reducing waste and strengthening the economy.  Thank you to all who do this work every day!

Assemblymember Yamada Takes the Hunger Challenge – Day 4

Guest post by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada: Heading into the final day and half of this year’s challenge, there is a sense of “weariness”—not to be confused with “mindfulness”—about food.   We are literally barraged with daily food imagery—in advertisements that come in  the day’s mail; television and radio commercials; restaurant promotions; the previously noted Capitol receptions; even social media posts from our families and friends. Voluntarily limiting oneself to the groceries available on the 2013 CalFresh budget of $24.90 for five days requires both physical and mental discipline.

This morning, I opened a can of tuna, and lacking the funds for mayonnaise, opened one of the last two yogurt cups I had purchased on Sunday evening to skim off the top layer (strawberry fruit-on-the-bottom!) as the dressing for a tuna fish sandwich.  The flavors definitely clashed but one must make do with the ingredients at hand.  Upon tasting this concoction, decided to mask the hint of strawberry with a cut-up tomato, and made a tuna-tomato-on wheat bread-American cheese slice melt to take in for Thursday’s lunch.

For some reason today, I was extra-hungry and have already consumed the sandwich and an extra cheese slice intended for an afternoon snack.  Not sure if this is the cumulative effect of three previous days of having food to eat—but not feeling full since Monday.

I will drink home-brewed coffee the rest of today as I head to my District Office in Woodland.  Not sure what I will have for dinner this evening—options are narrowing, similar to what CalFresh recipients face at the end of each month.  The truism that “our food ran out before the month did” is a reality facing millions of Californians.  Please think about that at the end of June.

Final day tomorrow!

Assemblymember Yamada Takes the Hunger Challenge – Day 3

Guest post by Mariko Yamada: Got home Tuesday about 8 p.m. after a fabulous event in honor of labor leader and civil rights icon, Dolores Huerta, recognizing her for 60 years of organizing workers and standing up for justice.  What an honor to be in her presence.

Food and drink were plentiful at this hosted event—one among multiple such receptions that occur morning, noon, and night around the Capitol.

Fortunately, I have had a “no eating, no drinking” rule in place for my entire tenure in the Legislature to avoid a gift reporting requirement, so am accustomed to passing up the usual delectable spreads that are always a part of such festivities.  However, because I had only eaten a small lunch, the pleasant food aromas were harder to ignore…

After downing a glass of orange juice, again to quell the low-blood sugar feeling I came home with, I made half a package of brown rice with the chicken stock I had saved from Monday night’s cooking.  Dinner was one of the chicken thighs (I now have one whole one left from the original four) over brown rice with a cut-up tomato.   Made a cup of French Vanilla coffee to top off the meal…and the sweet taste of an overripe banana was my dessert.

This morning, I made my thermos of coffee, a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, and tucked another overripe banana in for an afternoon snack.  Will likely have spaghetti and toast for dinner tonight after attending another reception—one where I will be receiving a recognition for work on helping the unemployed!—skipping the lovely spread I am sure will be there…

Day Four tomorrow!