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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.

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.

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.

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.

Sponsors Are Critical in the Fight Against Hunger

At the Food Bank, we are careful stewards of the money donated to us, ensuring that as much as possible goes to providing food to the people we serve. Savvy donors have been using sites such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar to make more informed decisions about where to donate their dollars.  We have to ask ourselves often “are we putting donations raised to the best use possible?”

One of the factors that enables us to put 95 cents out of every dollar raised directly into food assistance programs is our connection to the local business community.  Sponsorship opportunities help us not only purchase nearly half the food we distribute, but also afford the necessary items we need to spread the word about our work. It allows us to promote and acknowledge local businesses, strengthening our ties to the community.

For instance, to spread the word out about our recent event Empty Bowls, we wanted to print materials to distribute to potential guests. We carefully source a good price for printing, then reach out to potential supporters.  We were fortunate to have Appel Law Firm in Walnut Creek become our print sponsor for Empty Bowls. They were happy to help, and saw it as an opportunity to support our mission. Thanks to Appel Law Firm, we were able to give your registration fee a lot more hunger-fighting power!

In addition to the print sponsor, Chevron bought bowls for the event and even came out to paint them, add those to bowls donated by Clay Planet of Santa Clara and the Walnut Creek Clay Arts Guild, bread donated by Panera Bread, soups donated by local agencies and businesses, media sponsorship supplied by CBS5 and Diablo Magazine, and what do you have?  An event where the bottom line is all about the people we serve.

We could not move forward with our mission to end hunger without the generous support of the local business community.

If you would like to become a sponsor, we have many options available. Please contact Kathy Gleason, kgleason@foodbankccs.org for more information.

Tesoro Goes Above and Beyond

Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery is a longtime supporter of the Food Bank that consistently looks for ways to raise awareness and support.  For example, this year Tesoro sponsored the Food Bank in a banner program with the City of Concord and Chamber of Commerce.  Fifteen banners advertising the Food Bank were displayed throughout the city on light posts.  The banners raise awareness and remind us that no one should go hungry throughout the year.

Tesoro has also been instrumental in raising awareness and support through various programs throughout the year where they match public dollars for donations. Beyond just giving money, Tesoro invests a lot of hands-on time with events like Kidfest, where Tesoro matched dollar for dollar (up to $5,000) per pound of food donated or dollar of donation received.  In partnership with Concord High School, Tesoro and over 100 students collected over 17,000 pounds of food in two hours trick or treating for it on Halloween night.  Again, Tesoro matched dollar for dollar (up to $5,000).  During the year, other events such as Taking the World by Storm and An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden continued to raise awareness and support the mission of the Food Bank. Every year refinery employees meet up for an event called Bay Area Refinery Motorcycle Run/Food Drive, chaired by Tesoro employee Chris McDowell, where local refineries collect food and funds for the Food Bank then celebrate their efforts with a motorcycle and classic-car ride ending in a BBQ with entertainment and raffle to benefit the Food Bank.  Many Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery employees also volunteer their time to sort food and serve the Food Bank as exemplified by Environmental Health & Safety Manager, Claire Spencer, who serves on the Food Bank’s Board of Directors as Secretary.

Tesoro and Golden Eagle strives to improve the quality of life in the surrounding community.  Over half a million dollars was invested in 2012 into local charities by employees’ personal donations, as well as, the company charitable fund contributions.  Over fifty charities were supported in 2012 and employees donated over 4,000 volunteer hours.

We thank Tesoro for their continued support and invite you to find out how your company can get involved at the Food Bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just 10 Days to Maximize Your 2012 Charitable Contributions!

Remember that all your contributions and donations to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano are tax deductible.  Take advantage of this before the end of the year and you will be able to claim your deduction in your next tax filing.  Your support during the holidays allows us to provide food year-round.

Please send your contributions to: Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, either by mail (PO Box 6324, Concord, CA 94524) or use the orange Donate button on our home page.  Thank you and Happy Holidays from the staff, Board and thousands of clients of the Food Bank!

For the added convenience of our donors, we will be open to accept donations on 12/31 from 8 am -4 pm. Join us for holiday treats at both of our warehouses.

 

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.

The Little Pink Bike That Could

Although we only request donations of food or funds, sometimes non-food donations make their way into our warehouse.  A nice, pink bike cruised into our Concord warehouse this year and left to find a happy home.

Saturday 9/22 was Pleasant Hill’s Community Service Day. For 8 years, the Pleasant Hill Police, Boy Scouts and local bicycle repair shops have joined together to repair/refurbish bicycles to go to children/youth in the foster care system in conjunction with the nonprofit CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). On Saturday, we delivered a tricycle, a bike in a box needing to be built and the pink bicycle. It turns out that all the pink bicycle needed was a technician to adjust the brakes. Sport Chalet staff had the bike ready to go in less than 10 minutes. Once the repaired bikes were ready they stood on one side of the park waiting for the children/youth to stop by.

From a distance, I saw a tall girl checking out the pink bike. The girl who is 13 and stands at least 5 foot 7 inches tall, goes to Carquinez Middle School. Her foster mother said she is growing so fast that her old bike doesn’t fit her and it is quite old and beat up. The girl rode the bike for a few seconds and thought it might be the one. I told her I was from the Food Bank and the bike came from Target and had never been owned by anyone else. She would be the original owner. All it needed was a quick fixing of the brakes but Target chose to give it to us instead. You could see the girl’s face light up when she found out she was the first owner of this bike. She then rode the bike around the park wearing the biggest smile you could imagine. The CASA representative told me this young girl rarely smiles and rarely has received anything new, so this pink bicycle was going to be very special to her and she would never forget the Food Bank for bringing it to the park for her. The foster mother had tears in her eyes as she watched the girl ride around and around never wanting to get off her new pink bike.