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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.

USDA Announces $170 Million Meat Bonus

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is thrilled to have received four bonus loads of pork including 500 cases canned pork, 1000 cases frozen ham, 1000 cases sliced ham, and 4,275 cases of frozen pork patties. This is part of the $170 million purchase USDA announced August 13 of pork, chicken, lamb, and catfish for federal food assistance programs, including food banks like ours.

Most of the purchases are designated for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).  TEFAP is distributed through our Food Assistance Program and because of the declines in TEFAP bonus commodity purchases over the past few years, this purchase could not come at a better time. Because there have been fewer bonus purchases, TEFAP has fallen from 25 percent of Feeding America food received to about 20 percent of the food distributed by Feeding America food banks nationally.

The drought in the Midwest is expected to cause an increase in food prices nationwide over the next year, so we expect that the unprecedented demands on the Food Bank and our partner agencies will be continuing through the end of 2012 and into 2013.

This donation will help us provide much-needed protein food to those we serve while it also helps ranchers and growers in drought-stricken areas.

Classic Car Club Cruises Up to the Food Bank

Guest Post by Diablo A’s Club President – Ed JamesPictured above is Ed James, president of the Diablo A’s Model A car club handing a check for $250 to Renee Baptiste, Special Events Manager of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

This Model A Club is a local Concord club with 80 families that have tour outings once a month.  Before visiting the Food Bank the club visited Chateau III Assisted Living in Pleasant Hill, to allow many seniors a chance to admire and remember the days when they would drive a Model A as a daily driver.  After the Assisted Living tour nine of the 14 cars made time to help in the check presentation.

The club has taken on the Food Bank as a project to make donations twice a year for community service.

Concord Egg Farmers Help Struggling Families with Donation of 25,920 Eggs

 Despite signs of economic recovery, record numbers of families in our community — and across America — are currently relying on food assistance.  In fact, one in eight Americans will receive help in 2012 from local food banks.  Among the most needed items are sources of high quality protein.

California’s own NuCal Foods donated more than 432,000 eggs to local food banks including a donation of 25,920 eggs to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano to help families struggling with food insecurity.

NuCal Foods’ efforts are part of a national effort, organized by the United Egg Producers and Feeding America.  For the fifth consecutive spring, America’s egg farmers are giving the Easter Bunny and families in need, a helping hand by donating nearly 10 million fresh eggs.  That brings the number of eggs farmers have contributed since 2008 to 60 million — equaling nearly 5 million dozen.

“NuCal Foods farmers are  third and fourth generation family businesses, and we are proud to be partnering with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano to provide much needed protein to the most needy in our community, especially during the Easter holiday season,” said Jim Van Gorkom, VP of Sales and Marketing, of NuCal Foods.

High quality sources of protein, such as eggs, are especially needed and valued at food banks like ours.  According to the USDA, one large egg delivers six grams of protein, along with 13 essential nutrients, including choline, folate, iron and zinc.  After a review of the nutrient composition of standard large eggs last year, USDA concluded that the average amount of cholesterol was 14 percent lower, and vitamin D content was 64 percent higher, than previously measured.

We are grateful to receive such a generous donation from our local egg farmers.  It is a privilege to receive such a protein-rich, highly nutritional food to share with those in need in our community.

What is your favorite egg dish to cook?

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