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Lafayette United Methodist Church Helps the Food Bank

Guest post by Ambassador Pat Hershey — I’ve always joked that Methodists have a passion for food (as in pot luck dinners), but at Lafayette United Methodist Church (LUMC) we put our real passion into helping the Food Bank.

Through our ongoing food drive, the “ONE Project,” we encourage members to bring one item of food to church each week.  They can just drop their donations into the Food Bank barrel as they come into the sanctuary.   Leslie Murray, our ONE Project coordinator, recently suggested that we set a goal to double our total yearly donation in 2012, and so far we are on track!  For March, we are suggesting that folks bring peanut butter to donate, as that is one of the Food Bank’s most needed items.

LUMC members also regularly volunteer with the Food Bank’s “Boxing Team,” packing boxes of food for the Food for Children and Extra Helpings direct distribution programs.  The Boxing Team works 2 – 3 Fridays a month, packing anywhere from 250 to over 700 boxes at a time.   Rod & Barbara Levander started volunteering at the Food Bank over 12 years ago, first in the sorting room and then within a short time joined the Boxing Team.  Vic & Fran Smith joined the Boxing Team a couple years later, and with the addition of Jill and myself in recent years, LUMC now regularly fields 6 members to help the team.

We also have groups of youth and adults who volunteer from time to time to help sort donated food at the Concord warehouse and pick pears for the Food Bank from the Moraga orchard.  Recently I led a group of LUMC kids from ages 12 to 82 out to the Concord warehouse and we spent the afternoon sorting 5,187 pounds of food.   That’s a lot of food, but at the end of the afternoon the group was simply saying “When is the next time we’re coming back to do this again?  This was wonderful!”

One special thing that the LUMC women’s group has done for several years now is to make 100 Easter Baskets each year for kids in some of the Food Bank’s partner agency programs.  Sue Renno and Fran Smith organize this project and direct the assembly process, and then the Food Bank sends a truck to pick up the finished baskets and distribute them to the partner agencies.  Each basket includes a chocolate bunny, a stuffed animal, a toy and some practical items like tooth brushes etc.  One of the agencies receiving baskets last year wrote to us saying, “The baskets went to mothers participating in the workforce services program who are in training (in Antioch), and they were very appreciative. The consensus was that they wouldn’t have been able to provide any Easter gifts for their children without your help.”  Wow, what a great result from LUMC partnering up with the Food Bank!

Finally, I also volunteer in the Food Bank Ambassador program, which gives me a chance to go out to events and tell people about the Food Bank and the growing need for food assistance right here in Contra Costa and Solano counties.  As an Ambassador, I’ve represented the Food Bank at a wide variety of events, including Oktoberfest in Todos Santos Plaza in Concord, an Employee Wellness event at Kaiser in Richmond, and the annual food drive at Fenton’s Ice Cream Parlor in Vacaville.  It’s so rewarding to be able to tell others about the incredibly important work the Food Bank is doing, and raise awareness around issues of hunger.  It fills my heart and feeds my soul.

LUMC Methodists are passionate about food – and we put that passion to work by helping the Food Bank achieve its vision of ending hunger here in Contra Costa and Solano counties.

Chevron Gets Creative with Empty Bowls

Special thanks to our corporate partner Chevron for their ongoing support of a variety of Food Bank programs and events.  Chevron sponsors the Food Banks Farm 2 Kids Richmond and Concord programs, bringing 5-6 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to 2,600 children weekly.  Chevron supports the Food Bank’s June Admiral’s Garden fundraiser as well as the annual Holiday Food Drive. In addition, we thank Chevron for sponsoring the Holiday note card art competition, and the upcoming Empty Bowls event.

Speaking of Empty Bowls, Chevron volunteers visited the Food Bank on Friday, February 17 to paint bowls for these March 24 and 25  events.  Feeling a little insecure about their artistic abilities at first, the volunteers rallied and completed over 100 beautiful ceramic bowls! Designs included flowers, fruit, vegetables, butterflies, lady bugs, trees, abstract and geometric designs and more.  Thank you volunteers!

Empty Bowls will take place at the Food Bank Concord warehouse at 5 pm on Saturday, March 24, and at the Food Bank Fairfield warehouse at 3 pm on Sunday, March 25. Go to www.foodbankccs.org  to learn how you can participate in Empty Bowls and to register to attend online.

Thank you Chevron for your participation and sponsorship of Empty Bowls, and for your ongoing support throughout the year. With the help of corporate partners such as Chevron, the Food Bank has been able to reach our commitment to feed over 132,000 Contra Costa and Solano county residents in need each month.

Come to our Concord warehouse from 9-1 on Saturday, March 3rd to paint an empty bowl of your own, or get your own limited edition Chevron bowl by registering for Empty Bowls Concord, or Empty Bowls Fairfield. View the full photo set on Facebook.

Doggie Donor Sniff Out Funds

Every year Contra Costa and Solano county employees come up with creative ways to raise funds for the Food Bank in hopes of winning the Counties Care Food Fight. Here is a story from the Agriculture Department and their dog Bella.

The Agriculture Department Canine Detector Dog, Bella, has donated $300 of her hard-sniffed earnings to the Food Bank. Her human handler, Cecilie Siegel, knows Bella is generous with her affection and her money, but even she expressed surprise at Bella’s dogged determination to give so much.

Bella also donates to Canine Companions for Independence (where she locked her jaws on a mid-life career change to become an Agriculture Detector Dog) and other worthwhile charities. When not using her nose to earn both treats and a small salary, Bella resides with Cecilie and her husband Mark. Bella’s “salary” is to offset the expense and hours of care and maintenance Bella requires when she is relaxing at home. Cecilie gives Bella her head to freely spend this money on good causes, and once again the Food Bank won by a nose. Bella purchased raffle tickets, each of which she marked with her paw (although very smart, Bella still can’t write her own name). She is expected to be a big hit at the live auction, when she will undoubtedly be barking her bids out in an effort to confuse the auctioneers.

Bella may be the only four-legged county employee donating, but she challenges any other similarly enabled employees to go paw-to-paw and match or exceed Bella’s generosity!

A Local Company’s Continued Support

People support the work of the Food Bank because they believe in what we do.  They evaluate our audits and look at our annual report, but many times people support us because they are asked to help by someone they respect.

The Calpine Corporation does business in East Contra Costa County and they want to be part of a strong community.  In order to make this happen, they work with Supervisor Federal Glover to help meet the needs in his district.  Because of this strong relationship, Calpine made another $10,000 donation to the Food Bank as part of the County Cares food drive competition this year.

I had a chance to meet with Chris German the General Manager of Calpine’s East County facilities at Supervisor Glover’s office at the end of December and he provided us with a $10,000 check to help those in need in our community.  The business support that Supervisor Glover helps bring to the Food Bank will allow us to provide food assistance to those who need help, another excellent example of people helping people.

Supervisor Glover with Food Bank Executive Director Larry Sly and Calpine General Plant Manger, Chris German

 

Benicia High School Holiday Food Drive 2011

Guest post by Vincent Lee: I’m Vincent Lee, a senior at Benicia High School, and got approval to organize and coordinate the Holiday Food Drive at our school.  I was thrilled to be able to make a difference in my community and help collect over 2,000 pounds for the Food Bank.

Food drives should run for at least 2 weeks, with enough time to advertise at the beginning of the drive as well as time at the end to collect the cans and make prepare for the scheduled pick up.  Be sure to have a committee to help you find empty boxes and have them delivered to each classroom and you’ll need their help to pick up the canned food items throughout the food drive.  Don’t wait till the last minute to collect all the cans.  I created a spreadsheet for us to keep track of the cans we collected from each of the classrooms.

Here are some suggestions to advertise your food drive at school: display the barrels at a place where students will notice them, find funding (possibly the PTA or PTSA) for a pizza party for the class that collects the most cans and announce this incentive at the beginning of the food drive, have the food drive announced each day on the PA system, write a blurb in the school newsletter that goes out to parents and students, have a teacher or administrator e-mail all the teachers about the food drive and the incentive.  If your school has the automatic telephone announcement service to parents – use it to announce the food drive.  I think involving parents is important.

The Food Bank people are friendly, great to work with and try so hard to help our community.  Hopefully, students out there like me will join in and make a difference in our community as well.  I’m proud of our school and the spirit our teachers and students have in making this Holiday Food Drive a success!  Congratulations to Coach Tuiolosega’s 4th period class who won the pizza party by collecting over 400 cans! Special thanks to Mrs. Aragon’s classes who brought in over 760 cans, Mr. Alverez’s class who brought in 225 cans, my Link Crew teacher Mr. Nelson, and my awesome Link Crew committee: Michaela, Colby, Sierra, Matt, and Kailee!!

Happy Holidays and hope 2012 will be an even brighter year for you!

Sharing a Bountiful Year

I was sitting at my desk on the last business day of the year – December 30. Our hard working staff was happy to go home early. I had plenty to keep myself busy for a while longer, some neglected thank you letters, a few holiday cards to complete, and I, too, would be headed home.

Suddenly there was a knock on the Food Bank door. “Are we too late? Will you take our donation?” they asked. “Of course”, I said. “Please drive around back and I will meet you at the door.” figuring a few more bags of donated food is always a good thing.  What I saw when I unlocked the back door was staggering – two vehicles stuffed with food! I quickly got two carts to help unload the bounty. Confused, I asked, “Was this a group collection?” “Oh, no,” said Mike Bailey, “this is just from our family. We had a good year and wanted to give back.”

It took all five family members and myself to unload cases of canned vegetables and fruits, whole grain cereal boxes, and practically everything we at the Food Bank wish for. “We went to your website and printed off your most wanted food items so we were sure to get what is needed,” said Laura Bailey. All I could say is, “You sure did!” Their donation weighed in at 1,214 pounds of food, the equivalent of 971 meals!

Thank you to the Bailey family of Vacaville. Thank you to everyone who has donated a can of food, a dollar, or an hour of your time to the Food Bank in 2011. We are serving 132,000 neighbors in need every month and distributing almost 14 million pounds of food a year and WE COULD NOT DO ANY OF IT WITHOUT YOU. Best wishes for a wonderful 2012 and our sincere gratitude for your partnership in the battle against hunger.

Sutter Hospital provides $6000 to Hungry Solano County Neighbors

Sutter Health has generously selected the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano to receive a $6,000 donation as part of a quarter-million-dollar donation to 29 food banks throughout Northern California.

“I’m very pleased to give what we can to our local food bank, especially when so many families are in need,” stated Terry Glubka, CEO of Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo.

Over the past three years, Sutter Health donated $762,500 to food banks in local communities which enables the purchase nutritious food for those in need.

Besides the medical center in Vallejo, Sutter Health operates care centers in Fairfield, Rio Vista, Vacaville.

Giving Back is Elementary in Lafayette

Guest post from Nancy Beliveau, Lafayette Elementary School 4th Grade Teacher: Lafayette Elementary School’s PTA has been sponsoring an annual Food Drive for over 20 years, collecting over 2,200 pounds each year. The classes collect food in their rooms all week. On Friday, a quiet group of parents arrive with wagons and rolling carts to transfer the food to the red Food Bank barrels outside our main office.

Three years ago, my class was awarded a trip to the Food Bank warehouse for donating the most food over a three-week period. The students loved seeing where the food went and how big the facility was.

When the students were told how the food got sorted and shipped out, they asked if they could help. Unfortunately, our class size was too large to participate in sorting at the warehouse. So that left us with how to involve the children.

A few years ago, our local middle school actually sorted of all their donated food after school with student volunteers. I remembered this as my daughter was at the school then. I asked Joan Tomasini (Food Drive Coordinator) from the Food Bank if this would be an option for my 4th graders. She looked in to it and our plan was set!

Since we collect food for three weeks, the numbers worked out as we have three 4th grade classrooms. The first week Joan worked with my class and explained how to organize the food into the categories they use at the warehouse. The next two weeks my class would work with our other two 4th grade classes. My students partner with someone from the other class and they work as a team.

Before we started sorting this year, my class looked through magazines and made up cards based on the Food Bank categories. We discussed vegetables, fruits, juices, tomato products, ready-to-eat foods, beans, soups, and other food items. This gave them an idea of how the sorting would go, besides realizing what some of the food actually was! It was a real eye-opener for some students!

The children start the sorting process by carrying all of the food from the red barrels and carrying it to our multi-use room. They line the items up on one side of the room. Joan and Marianne Brent, our PTA chairman, have already put out boxes that have category labels on them. We are set!

Each child selects two items and goes to find the correct boxes. They have also been taught how to stack the items in the boxes so the box can hold the greatest amount of food. At this time, I have discovered that some of the students become packers, while others continue to fill the boxes. When a box is full, Joan and Marianne show the children how to fold the flaps of the box down to secure it.

This year we decided that if a student brought a jar of peanut butter, that they could wear their PJs on Friday, for PB and J Day! I am going to have my students brainstorm later this year about some special days for next year, targeting food groups that are needed the most! I can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with!

Working with the Food Bank has been great for all of us. Our 4th graders know what community service is and how to get involved. Joan Tomasini shares her enthusiasm about including the children in this great service every time she is here. It has been a wonderful experience for our entire 4th grade community here at Lafayette Elementary.

Watch Nancy Beliveau and our Executive Director Larry Sly on CBS5 on Tuesday, December 22 during the 12pm newscast.

Santa Dollars

Looking for a unique stocking stuffer? Look no further! Santa Dollars, available at any California Pacific Federal Credit Union branch, are here, and proceeds benefit the Food Bank! Santa Dollars are real, spendable dollars. Surprise  kids, grandkids, or even Aunt Betty in her Christmas card. For more information visit www.calpacfcu.org. Happy Holidays!

A Thoughtful Gift

Kudos to Emily Bach and staff at The Bach Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Orinda for choosing to say thank you to their clients via the Food Bank.  Instead of sending clients the usual holiday gift of candy or other personal item, Emily decided to make a $5,000 donation to the Food Bank in honor of her clients.  She paid for custom printed Thanksgiving cards, included a letter from herself explaining the donation, and a letter from Food Bank Executive Director Larry Sly explaining Food Bank needs and how many people this generous donation will feed.

If you would like to do a similar good deed through your business for the holiday season, Christmas or the New Year, please contact Kathy Gleason at 925 771 1313 or kgleason@foodbankccs.org