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Call Congress Today! It’s Easy!

Today (November 28), Feeding America and other national partners are hosting a national call-in day to mobilize advocates across the country in opposition to cutting hunger-relief programs and protecting tax incentives to encourage food and fund donations as part of a deal on the Fiscal Cliff.

Call in Details:

As Congress debates how to address the looming Fiscal Cliff, we must urge them to do it the right way.  Help us show Congress that cutting programs that help feed struggling families is not the way to balance the budget.

Here’s how:

  • Call using Feeding America’s toll-free hotline at 866-527-1087.
  • Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted. Connect to your Senators first.
  • Once you are connected to your first Senator, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from.
  • Let them know you are calling about anti-hunger programs and deliver this important message:

I urge you to oppose cutting SNAP and other hunger-relief programs as part of any deal on the Fiscal Cliff and to continue to protect tax incentives to encourage food and fund donations to food banks.  Cutting programs that put food on the table for hungry Americans is not the way to balance our nation’s budget. 

  • Be sure to repeat the process so that you speak with your Representative and both of your Senators.

 

Give Back this ‘Giving Tuesday’

Originally posted on the Concord, CA Patch: As the people at Giving Tuesday say, “We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals….Wouldn’t it be great to have a day for giving back?”

#GivingTuesday is all about turning our attention toward helping others.

This year #GivingTuesday is on Tuesday, November 27th and nonprofits, businesses and supporters from all over the world will take part. It’s about all of us trying to make the world a better place.

What can you do?

  1. Help us spread the word about #GivingTuesday! You can do that right now by inviting your friends and family to share in the celebration of giving.
  2. Choose your favorite cause and make a contribution of time or money on or around #GivingTuesday!
  3. At the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano we always need additional supplies of shelf-stable food, and the holiday season is an excellent opportunity to ask the community to donate the food needed. Safeway and Whole Foods each have an incredibly simple way for people to help. Safeway offers shoppers a $10 bag of food items for purchase. You can buy these $10 bags and drop them in the Food Bank barrels. CBS5 is partnering with Whole Foods Market for their holiday food drive. Customers have the option to buy a $5 Breakfast, $10 Lunch or Dinner, or $25 Full Day Meal for donation at the register. (Meals typically feed a family of four.) Customers may also round out an order and donate any dollar amount.In addition, we ask people to bring other food donations to these conveniently located collection sites.
  4. Text FOODBANK TO 80077 to donate $10.00 to Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Message and Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 80077 to STOP. Text HELP to 80077 for HELP. Full Terms: www.mGive.org/T.

 

How will you give back this Giving Tuesday?

Today — October 22 — is the last day to register to vote!

We urge you to register to vote in the election on Tuesday, November 6.

If you live in California, it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

1. REGISTER

2. GET INFORMED

  • Find out what’s on your local ballot at www.smartvoter.org: type in your address to get your polling place and the list of races on your ballot, along with links to candidate statements and summaries of propositions.

3. VOTE!

  • Once registered, go to the polls on or before November 6!
  • If you prefer to vote by mail, request a vote-by-mail ballot from your County Elections Office no later than October 30, and be sure to mail it well in advance of November 6!

 

Take Part in Hunger Action Month

While you’re getting back into the swing of things following the holiday weekend, don’t forget that Hunger Action Month has officially begun. Join anti-hunger advocates from across the country to raise awareness of the 49 million people in the US who face hunger by taking part in Hunger Action Month — a month-long campaign to help end hunger in our country.

Students kicking off Hunger Action month by sorting food.

Everyone can rally for hunger relief by doing these simple tasks this September:

Like the Food Bank on Facebook (www.fb.com/foodbankccs). Share information about Hunger Action Month. Tell your contacts to like us too! During the month of September, ANDREW D MARSHALL DDS AND LYNNE D MARTZ DDS will be donating $1 for every new facebook like they get (up to $300).

Go Orange on September 6 and every Thursday in September. Wear orange on Thursdays in September and hang a Hunger Action Month poster in your business or classroom. Or change your online avatar to one of the Hunger Action Month options on the social media page of our site. Send a tweet in support saying: “I’m going orange for the 1 in 6 people in the U.S. struggling w/hunger. #HungerAction.” Or post to Facebook. If you or anyone you know would like a t-shirt or would be willing to hang a poster please email lsherrill@foodbankccs.org (limited quantities; first come, first served).

Get involved by downloading the Food Bank’s 30 Ways in 30 Days calendar, to find daily ways to make a difference.

To learn more about Hunger Action Month, please visit www.foodbankccs.org/hungeractionmonth.

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano would like to thank our Hunger Action Month sponsor: AT&T Pioneers.

 

How My 7th Grade “Take Action Project” Purchased Over 1600 Meals!

Guest post by Caleb C. – 7th Grader – Orinda Intermediate School: For my 7th grade science project, I decided to do a Take Action Project. The topic I chose to take action on is hungry children in the Bay Area. There are thousands and thousands of children in the Bay Area that do not have enough to eat every day. I researched hunger, did a PowerPoint presentation for my class and volunteered at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano where they provide food for hungry children. As part of my project, I decided to do a Virtual Food Drive with the Food Bank. It makes it easy to donate food – just pick the food from the site and pay. The Food Bank takes care of everything else. You can use your credit card and it’s a donation for your taxes too.

To raise money for the Food Bank I sent an email to over 75 friends and family asking them to contribute to my Virtual Food Drive and the total donations received were $830.27.

This will help the Food Bank provide enough food for 1660 meals to our neighbors in need. I learned that some families only use the Food Bank once and others have to use it many times. Also, there are some children who really need the food at the Food Bank because they are too young for some government programs like school lunch and too old for other programs, like WIC (Women Infants and Children).

One thing that I wanted to say was that I really enjoyed working at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. It was a lot more fun than I had expected. I also got the chance to volunteer at the Food Bank. I helped sort the bread at the Food Bank and I also sorted cans for the Food for Children program. The staff at the Food Bank are really nice. All the people there seemed happy to be volunteering. I even met some people who have been volunteering once a week with their friends for many years.

Again, I thank you all that donated and also those that looked at the email, as I enjoyed making you aware of this problem. I would encourage any teen out there to give them a call and spend some time volunteering to help feed the families they serve. I am sure that like me, you would be surprised to learn about how many children especially don’t get enough to eat. I know what it’s like to be hungry but I have never had to go without food for long. I am glad that the Food Bank is there to help anyone in our county that needs a little help.

The Food Bank was the perfect choice for my project. I plan to volunteer there again.

Rethinking Summer Food Drives

Summer is traditionally a slow time for food drives. You might ask why? Many food drives are driven by students of all ages and without school, there goes our captive audience (and a huge CAN DO audience). Many of us think of hunger when the weather is cold and during the traditional giving time of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when we hear of many organizations and people that need help. During the summer months we think of sun and vacation and the things we personally need to do. For us at the Food Bank and the food pantries we work with, hunger is a year round concern. The faces of hunger may change throughout the year but the faces are there no matter what day of the year, no matter what type of weather or what type of news that day. Hunger is hunger no matter what month it is.

Last summer between June through October, we brought in 82,000 pounds in food drive versus over six hundred thousand pounds of food drive from October through December. Food drive is an important part of the food we need. We are fortunate to have barrels in over 100 businesses/churches throughout the year but we need more of that and a steady stream of food.

We are embarking on a solution that will help us receive more food drive throughout the year. It is called the Contra Costa & Solano Food Project and relies on people like you to be a part of this exciting community undertaking. Stay tuned for more on the CCS Food Project, coming soon!

Governor Proposes Harmful Cuts that Will Leave More Californians Hungry

In his 2012-13 budget proposal released yesterday, Governor Brown included $2.5 billion in cuts to safety net programs that serve low-income households at risk of hunger. These proposals come on top of difficult cuts in last year’s budget that contributed to a sobering $15 billion in cumulative cuts to health and human services made since 2008. If approved, the Governor’s cuts will increase hardship for low-income seniors and families, leading more to experience hunger and seek out already overburdened food banks for assistance. Initial analyses indicate the Governor is proposing cutting $946 million from CalWORKs, $842 million from Medi-Cal, $164 million from In-Home Supportive Services, $447 million from child care, and $87 million from various other health and human services. These cuts would mean significant reductions in vital services to the same vulnerable Californians who have been hit year after year by harsh cuts to safety net supports.

The overwhelming burden of the budget deficit cannot be carried by California’s most vulnerable, who are already suffering due to previous budget cuts. In a time of such great hardship we should not be weakening our social safety net even further. We should be pursuing more revenue solutions to balance our budget and restore essential services that will aid California’s economic recovery.

 

The Governor could hardly have proposed these cuts at a worse time. California food banks experienced a jump in demand for services of 30-50 percent with the onset of the recession, and demand has continued to climb ever since. Recent reports from the Food Research & Action Center based on extensive Gallup polling show that 20.5 percent of California residents (7.5 million), and a staggering 26.7 percent of California households with children, are struggling with food hardship as the recession lingers. Given these sobering numbers, there is little doubt that the Governor’s budget will drive demand even higher.

TAKE ACTION

Send a letter to your state representatives. To locate your State representatives, visit www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html. Tell them you are calling on the legislature to reject the Governor’s proposed cuts to essential health and human services and to move forward with a plan that restores our social safety net and protects California’s most vulnerable from worsening hardship. You can use the information above in your letter as well.

Please let me know if you send a letter and to which reps you send it to. If you have any questions, please contact me at lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.

 

Urge Your Senators to Vote YES on the FY2012 Minibus Appropriations Bill

On Tuesday, November 1, the Senate is scheduled to vote on passage of package of bills, which includes the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Among those programs funded by the Agriculture Appropriations portion of this bill are the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP),  and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). (See below for additional background information.)

Thanks to calls and emails last week to the Senate from anti-hunger advocates across the country, we were successful in stopping the consideration of several harmful SNAP-related amendments, and successfully defeated an amendment offered by Senator Sessions that would have eliminated categorical eligibility for SNAP. (SNAP is the federal name for the Food Stamp program. We call it “CalFresh” here in California.) But, the work is not done yet! Now, we need to show grassroots support for passage and urge every Senator to vote YES to pass this bill.

Call Today!
Use Feeding America’s toll free number to help us track our impact. Just dial 1-877-698-8228 to be connected directly to both of your Senators and deliver the following message: “I urge Senator [Boxer OR Feinstein] to vote YES on passage of H.R. 2112, the Minibus Appropriations bill which contains the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations legislation.”

Keep up the Pressure through Social Media!
After you call, you can further amplify your voice by posting your message on your Senators’ Facebook pages (Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein). Be sure to include your zip code in your message to let them know you are their constituent and simply urge them to vote YES on H.R. 2112, the FY2012 Minibus Appropriations Bill. We must use all of the channels available to let our elected officials know we are watching their votes closely!

Additional Background Information
While the Senate-passed bill didn’t contain every provision we were hoping for, on the whole, this bill is better funded and far superior to the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations legislation passed by the full House back in June. As the House and Senate look to conference their two bills in order to develop a final FY2012 Agriculture Appropriation, nutrition programs will be in a far stronger position if the Senate can negotiate based off of a bill that passed after a vote by their full membership. Details of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations are below are below.
•         TEFAP Commodities:  Mandatory funding for TEFAP food commodities is provided at $260 million. This funding reflects the mandatory funding level of $250 million, as established by the 2008 Farm Bill, plus an adjustment for food price inflation. This amount is $13.5 million more than was provided in FY2011 and $60 million more than is provided in H.R. 2112.
•         TEFAP Storage and Distribution Funds: Funded at $48 million, this is $1.5 million less than was provided in FY2011, but $10.5 million more than is provided in H.R. 2112. As in past years, a provision is also included in the bill that allows states, at their discretion, to transfer up to 10% of the value of their commodity allocation — $26 million in total — into TEFAP Storage and Distribution funding.
•         WIC: WIC is funded at $6.582 billion. This is $152 million less than was provided in FY2011, but an increase of $581 million over the amount provided in H.R. 2112. According to the WIC Association, this level of funding should be sufficient to fund participation in the program in FY2012.

If you have any questions about these programs or this bill, please contact me at lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.

Leave us a comment and let us know which action you took.

Capitol Goes Orange

Let’s go orange for Hunger Action Month!  Join anti-hunger advocates from across the state, Food Bank staff, the offices of Assemblymembers Yamada, Fuentes, Beall, Skinner and others to participate in “The Capitol Goes Orange for Hunger Awareness”  day TODAY (Wednesday, September 21st) in Sacramento.  They are asking that staff members wear orange – the official color of hunger awareness – to bring attention to hunger issues across the state and highlight anti-hunger bills currently before the Governor (AB 6, AB 69, AB 152, AB402, AB581, and SB 43).  There will be a Capitol Community photo op at 12:15p.m. on the West Steps of the State Capitol.  We ask that you also please bring a canned food donation with you to the photo-shoot.

Learn more about the bills mentioned above on the California Association of Food Banks website.

capitol orange flyer

Hunger Challenge: Final Thoughts

Staff and volunteers at the Food Bank took the Hunger Challenge Sept 12-16 as part of Hunger Action Month to bring awareness to the issue of hunger in the community. They tried to live on a food budget of $4.72 per day, the average amount a person receives in CalFresh (Food Stamp) benefits.

Read the final thoughts about the Hunger Challenge and experiences of the participants:

Aaron Yuen, Volunteer: Since my budget for Day 5 was $2.60.  I had to be creative. For breakfast, I decided to load up on good carbs. I mixed 1.5 cups of uncooked oatmeal, 6 pieces of walnuts, 1/3 scoop of protein powder and 4 oz of soy milk. That kept me full in the morning. For lunch, I made 2 cups of penne pasta, chopped up 1 slice of turkey, some green onion and toss them in ranch dressing.

For dinner, I made an omelette with 2 eggs and 1 slice of turkey and 6 oz of broccoli. The total cost of food was $2.60. Yes, I made it.  At 6:30pm. I declared that the challenge was over. At 7:30pm, I was spotted at Melo’s picking up a large combo.
That was what Jason wanted for dinner before heading back to college on Saturday. Since the challenge was over, I helped myself to 2 slices. Pizza never tasted this good!

Joan Tomasini, Food Drive Coordinator: Five days of eating less than I normally would is over and I am glad I participated this year. I definitely plan to do it again next year as it does increase my awareness of those in need in our community. I was also very fortunate that the day after finishing the challenge, I participated in our Vallejo food distribution. We handed out bags of groceries to over 340 people! The potatoes, plums, and cabbage were beautiful. My job was to add the 2 bread products and then place the ready bags on the tables for distribution to the recipients. They also received a bag of canned foods. The recipients all said thank you and were very happy to have us handing out food.

Here are my thoughts concluding the 5 days: I wish we didn’t have to eat on $4.72 per day. I wish we didn’t have to hand out food to people in need. I wish people were not hungry. BUT, I am thankful for my job at the Food Bank and that I can help people in need and be more aware of what it is like (even though I can’t imagine what it must be like for more than 5 days). I am thankful that those that receive food have recognized that it is okay to ask people for help. I am thankful that the people of Contra Costa and Solano counties believe in helping our community through food and monetary donations and through volunteering. I am thankful that the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano exists and thrives. Together we are working to end hunger – I will be truly thankful when that day arrives!

Veronica Wimer, Purchasing Manager: Well… somehow I came across pizza yesterday (free of course) and it made its way into my belly, so I failed this challenge. But today’s lunch was a little more plentiful with the macaroni noodles that were supposed to be last night’s dinner. I’m pretty much out of food, tonight’s dinner will be and egg salad sandwich with the rest of my cheese (I still can’t believe that I ate a whole pound of cheese in 5 days) an apple and the rest of my granola ( about ¼ C)
I definitely did a much better job at obtaining a variety of foods than I did last year, thanks to harvest house where I was able to buy exactly what I need from the bulk bins. This year I didn’t have to buy too much cheap food because I decided to just eat less.

I’ll most likely repeat this menu again for next year’s challenge. $4.72 is doable for me (a small female) but I’m not sure it would be enough for most people, I had a little more variety than last year but I totally failed this challenge because I ate more than my allowance with the free pizza I came across Thursday night. This challenged opened my eyes to a few new culinary surprises, tuna with wheat berries, pintos cooked in vegetable broth, water and onions and macaroni with just butter (isn’t so bad). Also, bulk tea lasts a lot longer than prepackaged, it’s freshness and potency allowed me to reuse.

Rachel Braver, Visual Communications Coordinator: Empathy has never been a problem for me, but taking the Hunger Challenge gave me a much higher level of understanding what it would be like as a member of the working poor trying to get through a week (let alone months or years) on a CalFresh food budget.

We came in under budget, because there are still portions of our food left from the shop we did last week, but the initial shop had us right at the budget. Since you can’t buy half a container of almond milk to ensure money is left over, items had to be very carefully selected.

There were some “cheats” like leftovers in the fridge and sparkling water we already had on hand (those would add $0.89 each to the budget) and a little flax meal on the oatmeal ($2.99/bag).

Some lessons learned:
The amount of planning required to make sure you have enough until your benefits refresh is not always doable. If you forgot to soak and cook your beans, you can’t eat them raw. If I didn’t have a flexible work schedule, I would have been fired for being late twice for prepping my meals. I spent so much time thinking about food, grocery prices, meal prep, ingredients that combine well and have enough fiber and protein, hunger, my next meal or snack, how much was left for the week it didn’t leave room for much else.
A restriction most of us are familiar with is dieting. You may restrict portion size or snacking because you choose to, but it’s a whole different feeling to be measuring out portions to make sure there is enough food to get through the week.
Variety is out. You want a snack? We have what’s on the list. Oatmeal again? Better than going hungry.
Being put into survival mode around food takes a mental toll that severely limits abundant thinking.
Have sympathy on cranky, distracted people. They maybe be working hard and still going hungry.

Lauren Strouse, Office Assistant: So – today is the last day of the challenge. I added up expenses this morning and barring any unforeseen cheats today, we came in under budget at $43.96 (we were allowed $47.20 for two of us). I figure we would have still been within the budget even if I had purchased tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and radishes – which all came out of our garden. Besides the Grocery Outlet, Larry’s Produce usually has in- season veggies really cheap. I was confident in the beginning that I could feed us on the budgeted amount because I have done so in the past. I’ve been unemployed four times over the last 10 years,  on medical disability for four months, and Steve was on disability for eight; when those things occur, you usually buy food with whatever is leftover after paying everything else. The challenge for me this week was making sure we ate a healthy diet and that our meals were varied and interesting.  Having a garden and a variety of produce stands close by helped. Having transportation and the option of shopping several different stores including someplace like the Grocery Outlet, also contributed to making it easier to stay within budget and eat well. Most certainly, everyone doesn’t have these options.

We definitely did not go hungry this week. We had plenty of fresh produce and I felt we ate a healthy diet. I did miss my “Bob’s Red Mill 8 Grain Cereal.” I probably could have budgeted for it, but felt it wasn’t really fair to devote our food dollars to something only I would eat; granted Steve had Fritos, but they were available for both us. I also missed my Cascade yogurt and having nuts for a snack (I try to eat a small handful every day), but didn’t have time to shop for the best bargain on raw almonds as well as take the time to roast them.  I definitely had to plan more carefully and felt somewhat limited in terms of choices because I was committed to the planned menu. I also normally try and use a wider variety of grains like quinoa and barley, but felt it was easier to just use brown rice this week; it was cheap and available at the location I did most of my shopping.

As for our final meals -the spinach-chicken wraps we had for dinner last night were pretty tasty, the cabbage slaw was excellent and should be even better tonight because the cilantro and jalapeno will have imparted more flavor. This morning before work I cooked the brown rice I need for making the stuffing for zucchini for dinner tonight (I could have cooked it last night, but was feeling lazy) – 1 cup rice, 15oz. can of diced tomatoes, vegetable bouillon, little cumin, dry oregano and a dash of Cajun seasoning (and water of course).  To this I’ll add diced carrot, yellow onion, celery, green chiles, cilantro, sliced green onion, and a can of black beans. After it bakes we’ll top with a little co-jack cheese.  Besides the veggies from the garden and lemons from our tree, there are, of course, things not figured into the budget that I used in small amounts this week: olive oil, canola oil, mayo, mustard, spices, salt & pepper, couple bouillon cubes, Ranch dressing we had on hand (which I bought on sale in the refrigerated part of the produce section at Raleys with a $1 off coupon. I like it because it contains fewer unrecognizable ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup).  It has been an interesting week and quite frankly – I am ready for a night out!

Learn more about the challenge and Hunger Action month: /events/hunger-action-month/hunger-challenge.html.