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Clayton Valley Concord Sunrise Rotary Lives up to Service Above Self Motto

Guest post by Rotary Member Hugh Toloui: A group of volunteers from the Rotary Club of Clayton Valley Concord Sunrise have been rolling out of bed in … Read more

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Your support makes the holidays better for families like Marla’s

Monopoly money, something I remember thinking as a young child standing impatiently by my mother’s side, watching her tear paper coupons out of a book … Read more

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Breaking the Cycle

Guest post by Food Bank friend Marla Williams: Monopoly money, something I remember thinking as a young child standing impatiently by my mother’s … Read more

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Serafino Bianchi and the Bianchi Real Estate Team: Feeding Families and Saving the Planet one bag at a time.

Guest Post by the Bianchi Real Estate Team: Did you know that nearly 400 billion pounds of plastic bags are used and thrown away every year? Less than … Read more

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Grocery Outlet Independence from Hunger

UPDATE: As of 7/10, the Concord Grocery Outlet collected 4,644 pounds and they has 6 full barrels! The Grocery Outlet store at 1840 Willow Pass … Read more

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Local high schools compete to end hunger at the Solano Town Center

solano centerThe Solano Town Center celebrated the success of its first annual canned food drive as six participating high
schools throughout the area raised 6,801 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Contra and Solano.

Students from Fairfield High School, Rodriguez High School, Public Safety Academy, Sem Yeto Satellite, Matt Garcia Learning Center, and Armijo High School joined the cause-related competition, which began Monday, October 27. To generate donations, the students stood by their designated kiosk, which they decorated with artwork and televised multimedia to attract attention.

The drive ended Monday, November 24, with Armijo High School collecting 4,118 pounds of food, more than any of the other schools. The entire school will receive a catered lunch from Fuddruckers on Monday,
December 15.

“We’re so impressed with the dedication and work that all of the schools and students put into collecting donations and raising awareness for the Food Bank of Contra and Solano,” said Marketing Director Jenny Mallory. “Families and students are a central part of the Solano Town Center culture and we’re happy to work with them in what we hope will become an annual holiday tradition.”

About Solano Town Center
Solano Town Center is located at 1350 Travis Boulevard, Fairfield, California. Center hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Restaurants and some stores operate additional hours. For more information, guests may call (707) 425-1164, visit the center’s website ShoppingSolanoTownCenter.com and follow the center on Facebook.

Grateful For Food Drives During The Holidays

Originally posted on The Vacaville Reporter: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is lucky to have the support of CBS 5 KPIX  and Whole Foods in organizing the Food for Bay Area Families food drive.  Whole Foods helps us collect food at their stores which helps us provide food to those in need in our community.  But equally important to us in our efforts to fight hunger, Whole Foods and KPIX help educate the community about why people in our community need food assistance.

KPIX is incredibly generous in giving Bay Area food banks the opportunity to publicize businesses and organizations that help us feed those in need.  During the Food for Bay Area Families effort, KPIX carves a minute or two out of their noon and six o’clock newscasts so Bay Area food banks can bring people on to talk about the good things they have done to help us feed those in need.  We bring international companies like Chevron on to talk about their financial support of our work, or bring on local Rotary clubs to talk about helping us obtain bright orange tee shirts branded “Go Orange to Fight Hunger” for Hunger Action Month.  Eight Rotary clubs in the Diablo Valley helped us get the message out that hunger is a real issue in our community.

We had Pick-N-Pull on the air to talk about the support they provide at their Fairfield and Richmond stores.  They do everything from asking their customers to donate to giving us the change they find in the cars that come to them.  Pick and Pull’s parent company Schnitzer Steel also makes a matching donation, further helping us in our work.

The people from Forma Gym in Walnut Creek talked about the holiday run they staged on Thanksgiving Day that raises money to help the Food Bank’s work.  They put on a phenomenal event which reached a caring community (they got MC Hammer to help sponsor the event!).  We also had a chance to acknowledge the CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer for the help they give the Food Bank’s efforts to provide food to those in need in our community.

We are grateful to KPIX and Whole Foods for giving us the opportunity to publicly thank the generous individuals, businesses, service clubs and community members who make our work possible.  But I will admit that we are also hoping that when people see what others in the community do, they will decide to take steps to make a difference as well.  We know that no one in our country should go hungry and people will take action to help those who need food.  When we can show that those we put on the news make a difference by giving food, money or time, we are helping to build a community that cares.  That community will make a difference in the lives of their neighbors who need food.

NBC Bay Area’s “Help Us End Hunger” Food Drive Helps Communities This Holiday Season

NBC Bay Area has once again teamed up with Safeway Stores for a month-long effort to fight hunger with food banks in the Bay Area. The “Help Us End Hunger” food drive is taking place at 155 Safeway locations throughout the Bay Area making it easy for community members to participate and help feed their neighbors in need.

In addition to providing on air promotion, NBC Bay Area anchors and reporters helped at their own neighborhood Safeway Stores alongside Kiwanis Club members and Food Bank volunteers on Saturday, November 22 to encourage shoppers to donate food items. On this day, 21,663 pounds of food was collected, meaning that more than 17,000 meals can be provided from one day alone!

To make the donation process easier, a specially produced shopping bag filled with items that food banks need the most will be available for $10 at all local Safeway stores. Items include pasta and sauce, canned vegetables and important protein items like peanut butter and canned tuna. Once collected, the bags are delivered to food banks for distribution to families in need. The bags will be available for Safeway shoppers to purchase now through December 25.

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Neighbor To Neighbor, Community Food Drives Make An Impact

Originally posted on the Vacaville Reporter: Nearly twenty five years ago, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano began working with a local television station to set up a holiday food drive in collaboration with the other Feeding America food banks in the Bay Area.  The General Manager of the station was incredibly enthusiastic about the idea and suggested that we approach the homeowners association at Blackhawk, the community where he lived.  Blackhawk was one of the first planned communities with upscale homes built around golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools. Sports personalities and business leaders owned homes in a gated community that had a limited number of entrance and exit gates.  We were lucky enough to find volunteers within the homeowners association who felt this collection effort resonated with social responsibility beliefs that came from their faith community.  We worked with them to take their ideas and grew food collections that make a significant contribution to our work.

Today, ten gated communities (including Rancho Solano in Fairfield) have similar drives where neighbors ask neighbors to help us feed those in need.  Volunteers come to our warehouse in October to staple flyers to grocery bags that are specific to each individual community.  Volunteers from each community go door to door leaving the bag with their neighbors.  On the day of the food collection, we set up our plywood sleighs with food barrels placed inside.  As people drive out the gate, their neighbors happily accept the bag of groceries right from the car.  We also place return envelopes in the bag and many individuals also give us a financial donation as well.  Communities vary in how much they provide, but the larger communities can give as much as 10,000 pounds of food and $25,000, making a significant contribution to feeding those in need.

These gated community drives are making a difference in people’s lives. People like Grace, 73, of Vacaville. Grace was married, owned a house, worked part time and lived comfortably with her husband until she retired at 62. Then everything changed when her husband passed away in 1999.  The house they owned needed repairs her husband used to be able to do and it needed a new roof. She couldn’t afford to fix it up. When she finally sold it to buy a smaller condominium, “I barely broke even,” she said. Now her only income is her Social Security, which leaves her about $400 after utilities, mortgage and homeowners association fees.

It was on a trip to a Food Bank partner agency, Vacaville Storehouse, a year and a half ago that Grace discovered she could get groceries to stretch her pantry and refrigerator. Bread and meat she divides into portions to freeze help stretch her grocery budget. “I could never do as well as I do with proteins without being blessed by the Vacaville Storehouse,” Grace tells us.

The food and funds collected by neighbors in their gated communities support people like Grace every day.

Give Where You Live ABC7 Thanksgiving Food Drive

There is no other way to put it, hunger just hurts more during the holidays.  For many in the Bay Area, this time of year shines a spotlight on just how much food insecurity affects their lives.  That’s why ABC7 and Bay Area food banks are working together to collect much needed food and cash donations this holiday season.

On Nov. 18th ABC7 broadcasted live from the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano warehouse in Concord. On-air interviews were conducted with people who receive food, member agencies, and of course our own executive Director, Larry Sly. Volunteers and visitors were able to meet Spencer Christian, ABC7 News weather forecaster, in person. Food provided by Panera Bread, Round Table, Togo’s and Tower Grille, kept our guests energy up while Mark from Denon & Doyle kept the music going for the evening’s festivities.

More than 780,000 people in the Bay Area go hungry each month. That’s about 1 in 6 Bay Area residents, which includes families, children and seniors. For 23 years, ABC7 and Bay Area food banks have worked together and you can join us in helping feed our neighbors in need this holiday season! Text the word FEED to number 80077 to donate $10 to Bay Area food banks. When prompted, reply with YES to confirm the donation and have it added to your phone bill.

In addition to your donations, each of the Bay Area food banks were awarded with $15,000 from Disney-ABC to help provide food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, to children and families who need it most in the Bay Area.

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Fall Events – Fun for Cause

Thank you to everyone who hosted and attended events this Fall. Here are some highlights from the recent calendar.

  • Scare Away Hunger – Thanks to the students at Alhambra and Concord High Schools who spent their Halloween collecting food. In just a few hours, they collected more than 14,862 pounds of food and $2,500.
  • Gourmet East Bay – Gourmet East Bay, Sponsored by Diablo Magazine and Broadway Plaza was held on Saturday November 1st. Guests were able to sample dishes from many top local restaurants, and fill their glasses with the finest wines, brews and spirits from local vendors. Live music, great weather, and fantastic silent auction items to bid on made this the place to be! The Food Bank was able to raise $7,700, which that will be used to purchase food for the holidays. Thank you to all who came out and supported the Food Bank.
  • The Habit Burger Grill in Antioch held its Pre-Grand Opening on Tuesday November 11th. One hundred percent of proceeds from the lunchtime sales of their mouth-watering menu items were donated to the Food Bank!
  • Moraga Turkey Shoot – The Moraga Country Club Senior Golf Association, and the Moraga Country Club, sponsored their second annual “Turkey Shoot”, on Thursday November 6th. Thank you to everyone who participated.  Through registration, a silent auction and a very entertaining live auction, we were able to raise more than $21,000 to help feed those experiencing hunger in our community.
  • Scouting for Food – over 120,000 pounds were collected by Scouts in Contra Costa and Solano Counties in one day!
  • WSPA Holiday Mixer – The Western States Petroleum Association mixed and mingled for the 4th annual Holiday mixer. Guests donated along with registration adding up to over 8,600 meals!
  • ABC7 Give #WhereYouLive – ABC7 Weather Anchor, Spencer Christian spent the evening with the Food Bank for a live broadcast on November 18th where he presented us with a check for $15,000 from parent company, Disney. We were also joined by member agencies, clients, volunteers and donors who shared their stories on the air and helped box produce. Thanks to all who showed up in person or tuned in to support Give #WhereYouLive.
  • Manor Care in Rossmoor partied the night away, casino-style for their annual holiday party and open house. Guests contributed enough funds for over 3,000 meals!

To learn more about events you can attend, visit www.foodbankccs.org/events.

Clayton Valley Concord Sunrise Rotary Lives up to Service Above Self Motto

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Guest post by Rotary Member Hugh Toloui: A group of volunteers from the Rotary Club of Clayton Valley Concord Sunrise have been rolling out of bed in the crack of dawn every Tuesday morning and have come to the Food Bank to serve. They have done so regularly and faithfully for the past nearly eleven years. Up to the present, they have sorted and packed nearly two million pounds of donated food that are collected in those familiar barrels as well as those from the large chain stores, boy scouts, mail carriers, etc.

Why the donated food need to be sorted, you may ask?  Before the food is distributed to the needy via some over one hundred pantries, dozens of charity organizations, shelters, etc., they need to be checked to weed out the out-of-dates, dented and damaged, proper labeling, etc., and boxed in some 16 different categories.

This group of dedicated Rotarians have indeed tried to live up to the lofty Rotary motto: “Service Above Self”. Serving at the Contra Costa / Solano Food Bank is one of this Club’s many domestic and International service projects. Knowing that the beneficiaries are the needy and the less fortunate, adds an extra dimension of satisfaction to this service project.

Needing Help – It Could Happen To Anyone

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: All of us see things in ways that are familiar to us.  Everything is filtered through the lens of where we grew up, what our family was like, who our friends were and what experiences we have had. While we may think we understand what others are going through, to actually live it is another story.  For many, when we think about people in poverty there is an element of judgment. It can be difficult not to think that “if they did this, they wouldn’t be in this predicament.”  Listening to the stories of people who need help with food has greatly changed any judgment I may have had remaining.

The majority of the people we serve are senior citizens and children.  Some of the people are disabled because of disease or injury and others have mental health issues like depression.   Most of us agree we need to care for the elderly, children and the sick, but people raise questions about why we need to care for those who they feel aren’t trying hard enough to care for themselves.  I found that talking to someone who has been there quickly puts things into a new perspective.

Someone I met through my work at the Food Bank shared her story with me and it spoke to a series of bad events followed by more of the same for their comfortable two-income household. It began with one of the family cars breaking down and needing $2,000 in repairs.  Two weeks later, an auto accident totaled the other car, so they had to buy a $1,000 clunker.  They were keeping their heads above water when the husband’s hours were cut because business was down.  Parents helped with bags of food, but couldn’t do much more on their retirement income.  When money got tight, they started selling household items to buy food and gas to get to work.

As bad as it was, things got worse when the wife lost a job she had held for over twenty years referring people to emergency food and shelter resources.  She knew the system well and went to one of the Food Bank’s Community Produce Program sites where she got much-needed fresh fruits and vegetables for her family.  Going to the site brought her to tears, not because she was treated poorly “the people who helped me were incredibly nice,” but because the reality of being on the receiving side was so much harder than she imagined.  It was scary to know that the person needing help was her.  Knowing that she was asking for help for her family was more than she could bear.  She desperately wanted to think of herself as a contributing member of society, not someone who had to take.  She now has a part-time job and things are going the right direction for her, but she feels like she is trying to manage circumstance she cannot control.

Listening to her story made me wonder.  I like to think that I have job security, enough savings and a strong enough support system to never be in this situation, but stories like this remind me that anything could change and I might need help. How would I feel if it happened to me?

Let The 2014 Counties Care Holiday Food Fight Begin!

HAM_Child4This year marks the 11th year that employees of Solano and Contra Costa counties will raise funds for their neighbors in need and compete for possession of the coveted Big Apple trophy!  The annual Holiday Food Fight began in 2003 as a friendly competition to raise funds for the Food Bank.  In the past eleven years county employees have creatively raised over $1 million dollars for the Food Bank! The county raising the most dollars per person wins bragging rights and possession of the coveted Big Apple trophy for one year.

Many county employees work directly with low-income clients and understand their need for help with food.  Many county employees want to make their community a better place to live in and take an active role in improving their neighbors’ lives.  You too can help by donating online at www.foodbankccs.org/countycup. Through the end of the year, scroll down past PayPal, click on the drop down menu and select “Friend of” Costa County or Solano County employee.

Season Of Caring Is Also Season Of Friendly Competition

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: This week kicks off the annual Counties Care Holiday Food Fight. This friendly competition between employees of Solano and Contra Costa counties is a way of sharing the holiday spirit with the people in need the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano serves. County employees volunteer their time in creative ways raising funds for the Food Bank so help can be there during the holiday season and beyond.

Twelve years ago, Contra Costa County employees decided to do a food collection in the County Administrators office.  They raised 1600 pounds of food and felt incredibly positive about what they had accomplished.  They felt so positive that the next year they threw the challenge out to other county departments setting up a friendly competition to see which department could be most generous.  Incredibly creative ideas were shared within the county employee community about how to help more.  Departments offered dress down days for employees who donated and some departments competed to see who got to throw a shaving cream pie into the department head’s face.

As the employees learned more about the Food Bank’s efficiencies, they realized that raising money was more effective than raising food.  The “food drive” became a “fund drive” that gives the Food Bank the money it needs to acquire the fresh produce that has become such an essential part of our work.  The organizers also knew that the Food Bank serves both Solano and Contra Costa counties, so the friendly competition grew to be a contest between the two counties to see which could raise the most funds per employee.  So within each county individual departments compete with other departments to see which can be the most giving.  The prize for the county competition is the Big Apple trophy (going back to the time a huge donation of apples helped bring a victory for a Board of Supervisors member).  This year, Solano County has held the Big Apple trophy for two years in a row, but Contra Costa wants it back!

There are two victories that come out of this competition.  People who are part of the county employee community, in both Solano and Contra Costa counties have fun.  They work together for something that benefits the greater community, no matter which department they work for.  More important, their accomplishments allow the Food Bank to provide help to people in need in both counties.  The Counties Care Holiday Food Fight has raised over $1.1 million for the Food Bank.  More than twenty million pounds of food went to people in need in our community last year because people—like the county employees — care.