Blog

Archive for ‘ Events ’

Food Bank Ambassador is a Living Legacy

Houston (holding the flower and award) is pictured with friends, family and Food Bank staff members.

Guest post by Food Bank Office Assistant, Lauren Strouse: Every so often life presents us with the opportunity to do something special for someone else. Food Bank staff in Solano recently nominated one of their wonderful volunteers for a special honor. The Solano County Senior Coalition, in partnership with the Area Agency on Aging, the County, and cities in Solano, annually sponsor the Living Legacy Awards for individuals 60 and older.  The award categories are diverse: Community Spirit, Inspired Leadership, Social Innovation, Community Champion, Building Bridges, and Generative Age.  An application had to be completed, which included a 500 word essay detailing why this individual deserved the award. Volunteer Houston Robertson was nominated for a Community Spirit Award. We were truly delighted when she won, and even more excited to share the news with Houston.

The Award Ceremony was held at the Fairfield Community Center on May 15th. The honorees were able to invite guests and Houston’s son, daughter, and several friends were present to share this special occasion with her. Food Bank staff also attended. Mayors from all seven Solano County cities were in attendance. Houston was honored to have Benicia mayor Elizabeth Patterson sit at her table. Three members of the County Board of Supervisors helped present the awards and representatives for the other county supervisors, plus state legislators, were also present. Twenty one individuals, many well into their 80’s, from all seven cities in Solano County, were honored. It was a very inspirational afternoon.

Houston was nominated because she is a very special volunteer. She has an infectious personality and enthusiasm that inspires others to get excited about what they are doing. Houston, 77 years young, has been a volunteer with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano in Solano County, for just four years however, during this time she has demonstrated a dedicated commitment to the work the Food Bank is engaged in – fighting hunger.  She is a “member” of the Wednesday Morning Regulars, a group of retirees who sort food together every Wednesday. She has been a Food Bank Ambassador for two years, representing the Food Bank at various functions, such as community health fairs. She has also learned to conduct the Food Bank’s Wheel of Life activity, which is a regular part of our Family Volunteer Day, held approximately three times a year. She recently took full responsibility for presenting this at ACE Charter School when the school decided to organize a food drive as a Service Day activity, and she addressed the entire student body as well.  Last but not least, Houston volunteers at the Vallejo Food for Children distribution, which involves an additional time commitment of roughly four hours each month.

Houston also does public speaking about “Aging as Renaissance,” mostly to groups of seniors. It is a humorous, joy-filled presentation. She has written and published a book about her life, with special focus on mid-life. She is a fantastic example of how to age well, possess community spirit, and how to give back to the community. Her work exemplifies concern and compassion for others. She is active, fully engaged with life, and constantly seeking out new opportunities to be of service, learn and grow.

The Food Bank is fortunate to have someone like Houston helping to support our organization and equally grateful to have been able to play a role in this special individual being recognized with a “Living Legacy Award.”

Attend the Food Bank Annual Fundraiser to Fill Shelves When Donations Are Low

Enjoy a relaxing day in the garden with us on Sunday, June 23rd for the Food Bank’s 13th annual fundraising event, An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden.

The fun starts at noon with wine, appetizers, and live music by Big Cat Tolefree and the Hipnotics Band.  Bid on silent auction treasures and play some games of chance with big prizes before making your way into the garden for a delicious gourmet lunch, prepared by Englund’s Catering.  Renee Richardson from KFOG will emcee.

All the food, drinks, entertainment and tours you can enjoy at only $90 per person, or two for $170. Bring extra cash, check or credit card if you wish to participate in the auction or some of the games.

Reserve my spot today

If you can’t make the event, you can still win big with the Beat the Recession Raffle. You could be a lucky winner of $2,500 cash or other valuable prizes! Email Kathy Gleason with your name and address to be mailed tickets kgleason@foodbankccs.org.
For a sampling of the fine foods offered in the Tasting Tents, Auction prizes and reservations for this sell-out experience visit www.theeventofthesummer.com.

When Law Firms Compete Everyone Wins

Guest post by Food from the Bar Chairperson, Edward L. Shaffer of Archer Norris: The Contra Costa County Bar Association recently completed its 22nd annual Food from The Bar fundraiser for the Food Bank.  This was a special milestone year because they anticipated hitting One Million Dollars in total contributions.  While money still is trickling in, we did it and are well on the way to our second million!  Approximately 35 law offices in the County representing more than 800 employees raised more than $61,000 – for a grand total of more than $1,016,000.  Over the years participants also have collected more than 55 tons of food.

An important part of the drive was the 18th annual Comedy Night kickoff, attended by close to 200 people and headlined by noted comedian Will Durst.  Generous sponsors donated $13,500 to underwrite the event and help make the million dollar goal.  Some were new while others have been supporters for many years – and we thank them all!

Special Benefactor:
Wells Fargo

Patrons:
Archer Norris;  Liffey Network Solutions Inc.;  Newmeyer & Dillion LLP;  Steele, George, Schofield & Ramos LLP;  Timken Johnson LLP;  U.S. Legal Support

Contributors:
Certified Reporting Services;  Esquire;  Frankel Goldware Ferber;  Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Raines;  Gil Berkeley;  Law Offices of Suzanne Boucher;  MassMutual Financial Group;  Miller Starr Regalia;  Quivx;  Scott Valley Bank

In-Kind Supporters:
Back Forty Texas BBQ, Contra Costa County Bar Association, The Recorder

The Kids Run the Food Drive

Guest post by Galila Kitzes: A few weeks ago, the students of ACE Charter School– a small kindergarten through 6th grade elementary school in Vacaville – organized and ran their own food drive. ACE has a dedicated group of parents who support all kinds of community activism. But as much as we parents like to engage the kids, sometimes it’s hard to turn off our own need to control outcomes and take a chance on letting the kids do it…letting the proverbial chips fall where they may even if it’s not in pretty, well planned patterns of success.

So, we took a little risk. Students planned as much of the drive that they reasonably could. On a Friday morning five, multi-age classes planned one aspect of the food drive and a team of about 15 parents guided them through it. The parent volunteers didn’t give long explanations about how Food Banks or Food Pantries work. Instead, we asked students to tell us in their own words what they thought a food drive was – which took about 3 minutes – then they got to work. Our youngest classes decorated collection boxes for each classroom and made posters. The middle grades made fliers and ideas for meal donations instead of just single item donations. They also created an enormous chart on which to display each class’s progress for item collection. The oldest class came up with the general plan: how long the food drive would run, collection goals for each student and, of course, the prize for the classroom that collected the most items. In addition to setting up the rules of the food drive, the older students played the Wheel of Life with Houston, a Food Bank Ambassador. This game teaches kids, in a straight forward manner, how a person or a family becomes in need of emergency food assistance. Kids’ thinking evolved from seeing hunger as only an issue for the homeless to understanding how a family with a home, electricity and even a vehicle can end up hungry.

After each class had worked on its part, all five classrooms convened in the multi-purpose room, and kids from each classroom took turns explaining what they had done and what the other kids would need to do. The kids strode confidently up to microphones to speak: sometimes awkwardly and with wrong information, sometimes clearly and powerfully. The student audience listened with interest to them all. After this sharing of information and food drive planning, the kids went along their merry way to recess.

The parents left on their merry way, too. The older students decided to let the drive run for 3 weeks…how would all this work out? The students had copies of the fliers they designed …but would they just end up flying around the playground much to the chagrin of the custodian or would they make it to family, neighbors and other potential supporters? The posters the students made certainly looked cute and inspiring around the campus…but would anyone even notice them after a few days, let alone a couple of weeks? The chart had to be lugged into and out of the school daily. Would it be a source of motivation? Would the students really care about it after the novelty wore off?

What was the end result? The items came pouring in: 327 lbs the first week, 472 lbs the second week and 434 lbs the final week. One family even donated $100 for the Food Bank. The chart became the focal point for daily inspiration. Each day, kids gathered during recess and after school to count “cans” (the symbol used to represent a donated item). Parents congregated around the graph, too, interested in where their child’s class was relative to the other classes. This competition fueled their motivation, far more than posters and more than fliers. Thanks to Joan Tomasini at the Food Bank, the kids learned that 1,233 lbs of food was an unusually high amount for a school of our size (144 students) and a pride-worthy achievement.

Any school that is interested in teaching kids to be activists in their own community should consider running a food drive in this manner. Given that 1 in 4 recipients of emergency food is a child, kids have a vested interest in supporting organizations like the Food Bank.

Help Us Win $45,000 to Provide Fruits and Veggies to Kids!

The Farm 2 Kids program provides children in low-income areas with 3-5 pounds of fresh produce per week. Sometimes it is the only food they have for dinner.

As part of their Fighting Hunger Together initiative, Walmart is giving out grants for the most innovative and effective programs that help alleviate child hunger. Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is in the running to win one of 100 grants, but we need your help to win!

 Here’s How it Works

April 1 through April 30, go to www.foodbankccs.org/walmart to vote for our project. You can vote once a day, so please vote as often as you can.

You do not have to “like” Walmart on Facebook to participate, but do need a Facebook account. Contact Rachel if you have more questions or need Facebook help, rbraver@foodbankccs.org or 925.677.7011.

Funding for child hunger programs is especially critical considering the need that exists. Here in Contra Costa and Solano counties, 1 in 6 children struggle with hunger. The Walmart grant would go a long way to helping ensure that all children have access to the food they need to thrive.

Please share this with your friends and family!

Garden like a Pro at the Urban Farm Expo

Guest post by Master Gardener Marian Woodard: This time of year plant sales pop up like dandelions, and the nurseries are full of vegetables already fruiting. It’s easy to buy a plant grown in huge hothouses sprayed with heaven only knows what, but what if you want an organic, locally grown treasure AND want to know how best to care for it so it produces long and well?

Trust in the Master Gardeners and local experts at the Rodgers Ranch Urban Farm Expo & Plant Sale this Saturday, April 6th.  Not only will they have lovingly grown, local, organic, heirloom vegetables, herbs, flowers and succulents, but there will be experts on hand to answer all your gardening questions.

There are also free classes on subjects from chickens to creative container gardening with 10 more in between. AND there are phenomenal products (some brand new to market!) like biodynamic compost, worm castings and towers, containers and teas to make your plants thank you all summer.

All this will take place in a gorgeous, historic setting. Visitors will also have the option to sponsor a plant for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. For a suggested donation, we will grow fresh vegetables for our neighbors in need. You can visit your adopted plant as often as you like!  While you’re waiting for your plant to grow, a Pleasant Hill native food vendor will make sure your tummy’s happy.  Come early for the plants; stay for the classes!

Rodgers Ranch Urban Farm Expo & Plant Sale
315 Cortsen Rd (between Taylor Blvd and Pleasant Hill Road off Grayson)
Pleasant Hill
10:00am – 4:00pm

Carpool if you can as parking may be limited.

www.RodgersRanchUrbanFarm.org

A Fight to the Finish

The Food Bank salutes Solano and Contra Costa county employees for hitting the million dollar mark in the ninth annual Counties Care Holiday Food Fight!

The Food Fight began in 2004 when Contra Costa County employees challenged Solano County employees to raise funds for the Food Bank during the holiday season.  Solano County employees replied “Bring it on!”

The winning county every year is based on the dollar amount per employee. Solano County won the first challenge, and employees from both counties have been competing for possession of the coveted Big Apple trophy every year since.  In the 2012 Food Fight, Solano County employees won by raising $10.38 per person and Contra Costa County came in second with $9.70 per person for a total of $129,054.26.

Over a nine-year period, county Food Fighters have raised an amazing grand total of $1,027,310.65! The friendly competition also makes a big difference in the community.  Thank you county employees, your cumulative donations have provided over 2 million meals for our neighbors in need.  Job well done!

Fighting Hunger is Only an Empty Bowl Away

Photo by Linda Elsdon

A fellow co-worker and I were painting bowls for our Empty Bowls event the other day and she shared with me how it is one of her favorite Food Bank fundraisers.  That got me thinking, what is it about Empty Bowls that makes it so special?  Maybe it’s the fact that it goes beyond being just a fundraiser, it goes beyond being just a Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano event.  It is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger whose basic premise is simple: Potters, craftspeople and others in the community contribute handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread, and to meet local activists from their own community and hear how they are working to end hunger and food insecurity.   In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in their community. The money raised goes directly to feed people in need.

A simple idea ,yet is the collective passion and effort of all the people involved that has made Empty Bowls what it has become. Events have now taken place across the United States and in at least a dozen other countries. Many millions of dollars have been raised and donated to hunger-fighting organizations.  It is a project spread through individual communities that has touched people on a global scale.

A key component to Empty Bowls is people.  You.  Me.  Our family and friends.  Local businesses who provid
e sponsorship and volunteer time, such as Chevron,  CBS5, Diablo Magazine and and the AppelLaw Firm in Walnut Creek.  Together we can share a meal, raise awareness and be part of something great.   Everyone is invited to the table.  Won’t you join us?

Register for Empty Bowls, Concord, March 9th 5-7pm

Register for Empty Bowls, Fairfield, March 10th 3-5pm

Forma Gym Puts Hunger on the Run

The mission at Forma Gym is simple, “We change lives”.   Forma Gym is the premier training and fitness facility in the East Bay, dedicated to helping its 3,600 members get results.  On Thanksgiving, the Walnut Creek Forma Gym lived up to its mission by holding the 20th annual Turkey Trot, to motivate people to “move their feet before they eat”!  Not only do they want to share their passion for health and wellness in our community, but they turned that passion into an amazing fundraiser and invited the Food Bank to be one of the beneficiaries.  In those 20 years the Turkey Trot has grown from a 5k event for its members to a charity 5k & 10k run/walk, and a kids’ ½ mile, ¼ mile, 100 yard fun run that involves 6,000 runners and walkers including  kids from over 20 different schools.

In 2011 they began collecting food donations for us and continued that effort in 2012 but then also expanded that support by including a generous $5,000 donation and 200 turkeys to be distributed through our partner agencies.    It just goes to show how grass root efforts can benefit an entire community

Owner President/CEO Robert Jackson and Program/Race Director Bob Boos, worked hard  to spread the word to the community and media in hopes that people and other small businesses like theirs would support a healthy tradition and a great cause.  It was a morning to remember and we return the favor by putting nutritious produce and healthy food on the table of children, families, and seniors in our community!

Local Businesses Shared the Holiday Spirit

Bowles and Verna Holiday Fundraiser

We wanted to take a moment to thank businesses throughout Contra Costa and Solano for the many creative ways they raise money and awareness about the issue of hunger throughout the year.  Whether it is a portion of the proceeds for their goods or services, a grand-opening event, a special menu created just for us, having collection barrels for food donations, or sponsoring a special event, without their support it would be very difficult, if not impossible to maintain our mission and get nutritious food on the table for the many families, children and seniors that we serve.

In December there was an outpouring of giving through fundraisers and parties, for instance things were Rockin’ in San Ramon at Shboom night club!  Tan Angels of Walnut Creek and Shboom partnered to throw a party to raise money and food  for our food bank and receive toys for Toys for Tots.  The event was hosted by Wayne Coy of KKIQ, there was live music by bands Ruckatan and Caravanserai, a Santana tribute band, DJ Bene, Santa, games for kids, an auction and a grab bag of gifts and prizes.  Tan Angels and Shbooms definitely brought the ‘fun’ to their fundraiser and raised over $300.00 through donations!

Another great supporter of the Food Bank is Wood Group Field Services.  They invite friends and clients to join them on an annual Feed the Hungry Fishing Trip out of Berkeley harbor.  The hearty participants braved December’s blustery weather to take part in the festivities which included rock fishing and the opening of crab season (who doesn’t look forward to that?!).  Each fisherman could bring home up to 6 Dungeness crab and a sack full of fish!  To take part in this event Wood Group asked that everyone donate $10 in support of the Food Bank.  Now that’s dedication!

There were a wealth of holiday parties, where the spirit of giving and celebration went hand in hand.  We would like to thank Bowles and Verna  LLP for making us the beneficiary of their holiday party donations, as well as the employees and management at Brinderson professional services for energy, where managers personally matched employee  contributions. We would also like to thank Nan Brace and her Jazzercise group, Atria Living, and Western States Petroleum Association for asking everyone to bring a check to their holiday party, ready to donate!  We would also like to thank the Merry Mixers and Kathy Monthei, the CCC Bar Association Open House for their holiday donations and to Moffatt and Nichol who donated grocery store gift cards to us.

Every dollar raised provided two healthy meals for those in need during the holidays.  Thank you all for your amazing efforts to give back to your community!