Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: This week kicks off the annual Counties Care Holiday Food Fight. This friendly competition between employees of Solano and Contra Costa 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.
Twelve years ago, Contra Costa County employees decided to do a food collection in the County Administrators office. They raised 1600 pounds of food and felt incredibly positive about what they had accomplished. They felt so positive that the next year they threw the challenge out to other county departments setting up a friendly competition to see which department could be most generous. Incredibly creative ideas were shared within the county employee community about how to help more. Departments offered dress down days for employees who donated and some departments competed to see who got to throw a shaving cream pie into the department head’s face.
As the employees learned more about the Food Bank’s efficiencies, they realized that raising money was more effective than raising food. The “food drive” became a “fund drive” that gives the Food Bank the money it needs to acquire the fresh produce that has become such an essential part of our work. The organizers also knew that the Food Bank serves both Solano and Contra Costa counties, so the friendly competition grew to be a contest between the two counties to see which could raise the most funds per employee. So within each county individual departments compete with other departments to see which can be the most giving. The prize for the county competition is the Big Apple trophy (going back to the time a huge donation of apples helped bring a victory for a Board of Supervisors member). This year, Solano County has held the Big Apple trophy for two years in a row, but Contra Costa wants it back!
There are two victories that come out of this competition. People who are part of the county employee community, in both Solano and Contra Costa counties have fun. They work together for something that benefits the greater community, no matter which department they work for. More important, their accomplishments allow the Food Bank to provide help to people in need in both counties. The Counties Care Holiday Food Fight has raised over $1.1 million for the Food Bank. More than twenty million pounds of food went to people in need in our community last year because people—like the county employees — care.