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4 Stars for the Food Bank

For the third consecutive year, the Food Bank has been awarded the highest rating (Four Stars) by America’s premier independent evaluator on nonprofit organizations, Charity Navigator.

In a July 1 letter to Executive Director Larry Sly, Charity Navigator CEO Ken Berger wrote, “We are proud to announce Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has earned our third consecutive 4-star rating for its ability to efficiently manage and grow its finances. Only 13% of the charities we rate have received at least 3 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way, and outperforms most other charities in America. This “exceptional” designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”

No. of Stars

Qualitative Rating Description
  Exceptional Exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause.

It Is Holiday Food Drive Time!

As we approach the end of August, the volume of food drive food we have to sort/box and distribute is greatly reduced. We always worry that we will have to cancel volunteer groups in September and October. But more importantly, is the question “Will we have the variety and volume of nonperishable food we need to feed our community”?

Along comes mid-September and the requests for holiday barrels. The phones start ringing, the emails and faxes starting arriving and we start working fast and furious. Yes, we do look forward to the holidays every year. When you look at August and see all of our barrels in the racks and then you look at November and December and all of the barrels are full just waiting to be sorted and the food distributed, you know your hard work was all worth it! We receive many thank you notes from those we help and to read the letters and go to a food distribution and see the smiles is the confirmation that we as a community are making a difference and ARE “Working to end hunger”.

August 2011

What we wish for every holiday season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For everything you need to host your own food drive, visit the food drive section of our site.

Health and Wellness at the Food Bank

If the key to successfully helping others is to take care of yourself then the Food Bank staff has a bit of work cut out for them.

When we are not busy making sure that the food we order from our distributors is low in sodium, fat and sugar, the Nutrition and Wellness committees have stepped up their efforts to make some positive health changes for the staff.

The first task at hand for the Nutrition committee was to improve the nutrition content of the snack items found in our vending machines. The goal of attaining a 50/50 mix of healthier snack options versus non healthy was an easy  task to accomplish with our current vending machine operator who was more than happy to supply us with an array of healthier alternatives that meet the Fit Pick criteria. Fit Pick™ nutritional criteria are based on the recommendations of the: American Heart Association, 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Thanks to the nutrition committee, we now have super yummy snacks that are baked instead of fried, lower in sugar, fat and salt.

Fit Pick™ products are lower in fat and sugar with criteria for adults of 35-10-35 which means no more than:

35% of total calories from fat

10% of calories from saturated fat

35% of total product weight from sugar

Generally speaking, our health is a mirror of our daily habits and with that in mind the Wellness committee will encourage sedentary staff to move just a little bit more every day. Whether it’s standing up at their desks , taking  15 minute walks in the morning and afternoon,  taking the stairs faster or two at a time there is always something more that can be done to burn a few extra calories that don’t require a gym membership or special equipment.

To help us with our healthy ambitions please keep us in mind if you know someone who would like to donate an unused or under-used Elliptical machine that Food Bank staff will use during breaks. Maybe it’s currently serving as a clothes rack instead of its intended purpose as exercise equipment.

So if anyone out there has or knows of someone who has an Elliptical that they would like to donate to the food bank staff to help encourage a healthier lifestyle or “Healthstyle” please feel free to contact Veronica Wimer at vwimer@foodbankccs.org or 925-677-7012.

Food Bank Participates in Nutrition Study

Guest post by Lindsay Johnson, Food Bank Program Director: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is one of six California food banks currently working with researchers from UC Berkeley who are documenting current nutrition-related policies and practices in relation to the provision of foods to low income families through emergency food services. This research is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Healthy Eating Research, 2010-2011.

In recent years, it has become apparent that many families rely on emergency food services for more than a few days each month, and there is concern about the healthfulness of food provided through emergency food pantries in light of the obesity epidemic and concerns about diet-related chronic disease. The emergency food system has been based on the distribution of shelf stable, low/no cost food for years. This food is frequently highly processed and contains large amounts of salt and sugar.

There are 3 components to the study. All Feeding America food banks were invited to participate in a national online survey in March assessing current organizational policies regarding the nutritional quality of the food provided. Six food banks, including Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, will have their food inventory data analyzed for the period 2007-2010 to evaluate whether actual foods received and distributed have changed during this period. As part of this second component, the research team will conduct short interviews with the Executive Directors of the Food Banks and key staff members regarding the provision of healthy foods. The third component will include food pantry visits at the end of May to five emergency food pantries at each of the six food banks for a total of 30 pantry visits. At the pantry visits, the pantry director will be interviewed, and a survey team will conduct a short interviewer-administered questionnaire with 15 randomly selected clients regarding their food preferences and pantry experiences.

Participating in this survey will provide the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano with client and pantry feedback, as well as giving us the opportunity to see how we compare with our peers with regard to providing nutritious food. This study will help us assess how effective and extensive our increased distribution of produce has been throughout the communities we serve. Information provided will help us with future decisions regarding the improvement of nutrition provided by the emergency food system.

Happy Birthday Mother Earth!

Every day at the Food Bank is Earth Day as we recycle aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles, paper bags, plastic bags, shrink wrap and cardboard. But what we do best is help to reduce food waste. Here are some examples:

1. We work with several grocery stores and large food companies that give us their product as it approaches an expiration date. It can be bread, fresh produce, meat or nonperishable items. Why throw it away when they can give the food to us and we can get it out to people in need. The product is still good but the store wants to move their product along so we help them reduce their own food waste.

2. We welcome fresh produce from people’s yards as that helps us have more fresh produce for those in need. In the last month we have received thousands of pounds of grapefruit, oranges and lemons not to mention some home grown lettuce and other greens.

3. We pay a reduced price for our purchased produce so that we can buy more and make our money go further. Our fresh produce is not as pretty as you would find in a store but we say it tastes just as good if not better! Because of the reduced price, we often find oranges that are split open or apples that are very badly bruised. We no longer have to throw the bad produce into our garbage as we have choices of what to do with it:

  • The Oakland Zoo purchases fresh produce for their animals. We contacted them over three years ago and found out they would be very pleased to have our discards. We say we give them the “best of the bad” as they need produce that is not moldy or not been broken open. The bison love our badly bruised apples and the elephants are happy to eat our overly soft oranges.
  • Loma Vista Farm in Vallejo (an educational farm definitely worth visiting) not only uses apples for Oreo and Keebler, the cows, they will compost any produce the farm animals won’t eat (oranges are not that popular with the animals).
  • A local pig farmer says his pigs love our bad apples (and they don’t mind if they are moldy, broken open or badly bruised). We even provide him grain through our “Piggy Potluck” project. Sometimes we receive food drive products that are far past expiration and we can’t give that to those in need. So we take the dry products such as pasta, rice, dry beans, jello, cake mixes, and moldy bread and open the packages and mix all of the dry products together. The pig farmer will add water to this dry product which will then serve as grain for the pigs. We recycle all of the plastic and cardboard packaging so we not only are feeding pigs, we are reducing our garbage.

One of our friends in all that we do is Jennifer from Allied Waste in Pacheco. Jennifer says “We should be recycling for the earth’s sake”. And at the end of the day it is the right thing to do and makes us all feel good. Just like reading our Food Bank news online, you too are making a change to reduce our footprint on earth.

Rita at Loma Vista Farm

Oreo and Keebler

Chris at Oakland Zoo

Child Hunger Ends Here™

ConAgra Foods and Feeding America (national network of food banks) are joining forces to fight child hunger this spring. Nearly one in four children in the United States does not know where his next meal is coming from. This means that more than 17 million children are at risk of hunger. But there is hope and there are ways to help.

When you purchase select ConAgra Foods products and enter a code online at www.ChildHungerEndsHere.com, a monetary donation will be made enabling one meal to be provided to Feeding America (up to 2.5 million meals). Participating brands include Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Fresh Mixers, Kid Cuisine, Marie Callender’s and Peter Pan. Every code entered through 8/31/11 is another meal that ConAgra Foods will donate to Feeding America on behalf of local food banks to help feed a child in need.

Also, on March 19th “Child Hunger Ends Here: A Special Report”, a 30 minute special hosted by Al Roker and Natalie Morales, will premiere on select NBC stations. The special highlights the personal stories of families struggling with hunger and showcases how Americans can work together to tackle this important issue. Check local listings for viewing times. To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/ConAgraFoods.

One Man, One Bike, One Fight

Drew Marinelli was a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa who became so concerned about hunger throughout the world that he decided to ride his bike from Key West, Florida to San Francisco to spread the word about steps people can take to help those in need. In doing this trip, he has connected with Rotary clubs throughout the US, and our Executive Director’s club in Concord hosted him on September 25.

Drew is also interested in the work food banks do to fight hunger, and he toured our facility before attending the Rotary meeting. Drew shared his observations on hunger in the world and about his bicycle ride with staff and volunteers.

Drew’s trip was featured on the 5 O’clock news on FOX2 that night. You can find out more on his website onemanonebikeonefight.com. Finally, I should note that Drew is 6 feet 9 inches tall, so we took his picture with Kathleah, our Accounting Specialist, who is less than 5 feet tall. :=)

See the Lemon Lady in the news

Anna, The Lemon Lady, spent the day with ABC7 talking about the work she does and the need for fresh produce at food pantries. Read more here: http://claycord.blogspot.com/2009/06/lemon-lady-of-claycord-on-abc7-news.html
and here: http://thelemonlady.blogspot.com/2009/06/exciting-day-with-abc-news-reporters.html.