The annual event, Gourmet East Bay, sponsored by Diablo Magazine and Broadway Plaza was held on Saturday November 1st in Walnut Creek. Guests were able to sample delectable dishes from twenty of the top local restaurants, and fill their glasses with the finest wines, brews and spirits from local vendors. Live music from the crowd-pleasing popular band, Tainted Love, kept the atmosphere festive. Factor in the fantastic silent auction items to bid on, as well as the great weather, and it altogether made for a fun evening to remember! Best of all, the Food Bank received almost $8,000 that will be used to purchase food for the holidays for our community members in need. Thank you to all who came out and supported us!
Originally posted on The Vacaville Reporter: One in eight residents now relies on the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and during the holidays we work with our more than 180 partner agencies to bring additional hope and relief to our neighbors struggling with hunger. This Thanksgiving and Holiday season we will provide food for over 14,000 meals and about 30,000 grocery baskets to your neighbors in need. Thanks to amazing community support through monetary donations and food drives, we can make the holidays more hopeful for children, families and seniors who struggle to put food on their tables.
We have a tradition going back longer than I can remember coordinating food drives with Safeway. Obviously, there is no better place to do a food drive than a grocery store. Years ago, Safeway let us place barrels in stores and we did all we could to urge people to donate. Other corporate sponsors helped us purchase colorful wraps to go around the barrels. We put the types of food we most wanted on the barrel wraps and on flyers. Volunteer groups passed the flyers out to shoppers as they went into the stores. Those efforts produced thousands of pounds of food donated by a generous community.
For the last five years, NBC Bay Area has partnered with Safeway to help stock the shelves of local food banks. In addition to providing on air promotion, the station enlists hundreds of volunteers – including NBC Bay Area anchors and reporters helping at their own neighborhood Safeway Stores –to encourage shoppers to donate food items. NBC Bay Area is once again teaming up with Safeway Stores for a one-day food drive on Saturday, November 22, kicking off a month-long effort to fight hunger with Bay Area Food Banks, a collaboration of seven food banks serving over 780,000 local residents each month. The “Help Us End Hunger” food drive will take place at 155 Safeway locations throughout the Bay Area making it easy for community members to participate and help feed their neighbors in need.
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 will be delivered to food banks for distribution to needy families. The bags will be available for Safeway shoppers to purchase now through December 25.
The holiday season is the time everyone can help their neighbors in need. NBC Bay Area, Safeway, Kiwanis clubs, scout troops, other community organizations and the entire community helps make a difference, each in their individual way.
We thank NBC Bay Area and Safeway for bringing attention to the severity of local hunger and for creating a simple way for anyone in our community to help a family in need. The Food Bank and our partners are feeding people in every neighborhood and you can donate to make a difference in the lives of people in your community.
The generous support from the community makes the work of Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano possible. What we ask is quite straightforward; we need people to donate food, give volunteer time or donate money. By combining those three things together, in different amounts from different people, we distributed over twenty million pounds of food to people in need last year. The amazing thing for me is the creative ways people find to tie their personal style to helping us in our work.
For example, part of being a Boy Scout is doing a “good turn”. Boy Scouts know that they have a responsibility to improve their community, so the national organization endorses the Scouting for Food drive. Scout troops reach out to their neighbors, placing door hangers on people’s front doors. They come back the following week, picking up bags of food the community wants to share. Scouting for Food is an incredible one-day effort, brings the Food Bank over 130,000 pounds of food. Coming in the middle of November, this donated food gives us a perfect start providing food donations to the charities preparing to distribute holiday baskets.
Behind the volunteer work the Scout troops are doing, the Food Bank provides the support they need to succeed. Scout troops pick up the food donations with their parents on Saturday, November 15 and they return it to a central location (usually a church or school parking lot) where the Food Bank has placed bins to collect the food. Scout troops are at those locations as well, overseeing the consolidation of the donations. Food comes in to these collections sites all day, and then the Food Bank trucks pick food up and bring it back to our warehouse.
Scouting for Food brings in more than three trailer loads of food which we need to distribute quickly. Volunteers from corporations, service clubs, faith communities (and even some Scout troops) come to our warehouse to help sort the donations we have received. Volunteers sort the food into seventeen different categories, putting things like peanut butter, tuna, canned fruit and canned vegetables in separate boxes. With this sorting done, Food Bank partner agencies receive the food they need to help the people they feed during the holidays.
The effort involved in getting the food from Scouting for Food into the hands of hungry people is done mostly by volunteers. Volunteer Scouts collect the food and we help by transporting what they have raised. Community volunteers come to our warehouse to sort the food. Staff members roll bins of unsorted food into the sorting room so volunteers can prepare it for the volunteer-run agencies that provide food to those in need. These incredible volunteers enable us to supply millions of pounds of donated food to a community in need.
Help Us End Hunger with Safeway and NBC on Saturday, November 22
NBC Bay Area is once again teaming up with Safeway Stores for a one-day food drive on Saturday, November 22, kicking off a month-long effort to fight hunger with Bay Area Food Banks, a collaboration of seven food banks serving over 780,000 local residents each month. The “Help Us End Hunger” food drive will take place at 155 Safeway locations throughout the Bay Area making it easy for community members to participate and help feed their neighbors in need.
Despite the recovering economy, thousands of Bay Area residents still rely on their local food banks to put food on their tables each week. NBC Bay Area’s goal is to create awareness and provide our viewers an easy way to help out.
For the last five years, NBC Bay Area has partnered with Safeway to help stock the shelves of local food banks. In addition to providing on air promotion, the station will be enlisting hundreds of volunteers – including NBC Bay Area anchors and reporters helping at their own neighborhood Safeway Stores – on Saturday, November 22 to encourage shoppers to donate food items.
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 will be delivered to food banks for distribution to families in need. The bags will be available for Safeway shoppers to purchase now through December 25.
This year, NBC Bay Area and Safeway invited local chefs to participate in a recipe challenge by creating dishes using the food items provided in the donation bags. Recipe challenges will take place at various Safeway locations and will be broadcast live on NBC Bay Area. Try out some of their impressive creations with these recipes.
Last year, the food drive collected more than 134,000 bags at Safeway Stores across the Bay Area, amounting to over 1,600,000 pounds of food for those in need.
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 and hand them to the cashier. I was too young to understand anything different about the poverty my brothers and I grew up in. Not long ago, I found myself in a similar situation. A few years back, instead of waking up Christmas morning excited about opening presents like most children, my oldest daughter Lilia ran into my room and jumped on my bed exclaiming to the world that she knew it was Christmas because Santa had come and filled up the kitchen with food. That was my epiphany. I’m Marla Williams and this is the window into the life of a struggling family. A mother determined to break the cycle of poverty. A woman fueled by the love of my family, my community, my education, and leadership.
Our family has faced some challenges in the past few years. In July 2008, I held a job in the mortgage industry that paid fairly well. Two years later, I was laid off. Michael, my husband, is a veteran who has served two tours in Iraq. He was enrolled at Los Medanos College working on his associate’s degree at that time and employed full-time making minimum wage. Through the discouragement of the situation, the children had to adapt suddenly to several new changes at once. They went from a life that was comfortable to a life that left them struggling. They have slept in the backseat in the early hours of morning while I worked a second job throwing newspapers out of the car window to make ends meet.
My daughters, Lilia and Toria, know what it is to be hungry and go without. It is their love that keeps my husband and I motivated. I decided to seek out help within my community. I went to social services to see what programs I might qualify for to temporarily better our situation. After the frustration of being told we make too much money for some forms of assistance, I discovered that we could get help with groceries and fresh produce from the Food Bank.
After taking career training courses, I am helping my family change our circumstances, the holidays this year will look different for my girls. Michael is no longer working at a minimum wage job, however money is still tight. The Food Bank is the glue that holds struggling families together when we have expenses like a $900.00 car repair and there isn’t enough money left over to buy groceries. I went to the local pantry to pick up groceries just this morning so we can make it until his next payday this Friday.
I’m a dedicated individual when it comes to making our communities more resourceful for families in need. I believe in the power one individual can have to change not only their circumstances for the better but for the community around them as well. My family is on our way to no longer needing support from the Food Bank, but many like us are still in need of a helping hand. I will continue to fight to save community programs that are so vital to hundreds of families facing financial challenges in this economy.
Originally posted in The Vacaville Reporter: Whenever I talk about the work of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, I always explain how important volunteers are, but as we prepared for our volunteer recognition and I looked at the total volunteer hours given this past year, I am even more amazed. Volunteers gave more than 86,000 hours of their time last year; the equivalent work time of more than 40 staff members. Volunteers answer our phones, sort food, bag produce and help run our distributions. They are ambassadors making presentations to groups about the work we do. Our volunteer Board of Directors takes responsibility for setting the goals of the organization and making sure we provide the services the community needs. We succeed as an organization because volunteers care about the work we do.
Volunteers are also an inspiration to our staff members. When we see the time and energy people give to help us feed others, we know we are part of an organization doing the right thing. I personally feel privileged that I got to know Duncan Miller because of my work at the Food Bank. Duncan past away this year, but his legacy lives on in the work of the “Milk Duds”, fellow volunteers from Rockville Presbyterian Church who continue to provide food to their neighbors in need. Duncan started his “Milk Dud” group to help him haul donated milk to his food pantry and other charities in the Fairfield area. As the volume of donated milk grew, Duncan partnered with the Food Bank to make sure these valuable donations of dairy products were used. Duncan was a retired pilot who owned classic planes, but his passion for helping others defined his life. That passion continues in the work of the Rockville Presbyterian “Milk Duds” who continue to serve community members in need.
Volunteers also keep staff motivated by the example they set through their energy and commitment. Houston Robertson has energy that exceeds what I only wish I had. She volunteers with us doing outreach to enroll people in the CalFresh program (a quite complicated task) and helps with the distribution of Food for Children boxes at our distribution site in Vallejo. She is also an incredibly articulate Ambassador for us, speaking to groups about the Food Bank’s work and hopefully persuading them to volunteer as well. When she is not volunteering for us, Houston does presentations about aging that refer to the memoir she has written. Did I mention she is also branching out as a stand-up comedian?
Our Volunteer Recognition event took place October 26, celebrating people like Houston and Duncan. Our work could not be done if we did not have the support our volunteers give. We live in a community that cares about people in need and gladly gives their time to make a difference.
During the holiday season, people think of gifts, food and family. Families gather together with the holiday meal being a main part of the celebration. It is also a time we give presents to each other, sharing with others to show we care for our family and friends. But the holidays are an especially difficult time for the families served by the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. People who need help from us throughout the year struggle as they try to make the holidays a special time for their family.
We at the Food Bank are lucky we live in a community that wants to help. The Food Bank has been working for nearly forty years to make the holidays a happier time for the families we serve in our community. We begin our planning in August by purchasing the food we will need for the holiday baskets put together by the agencies we serve. We work with local food pantries and soup kitchens to determine who they will serve and what they will need from us during the holidays. We are able to provide fresh fruit and vegetables as well as canned food and turkeys at no cost to the agency. We raise money so we can buy grocery gift certificates that allow families with limited cooking facilities to obtain the food they need for their holiday meal. Working with the pantries and soup kitchens in our community, we helped provide 14,000 meals to people last year, and more than 26,600 baskets went to families in need.
The holiday time is the busiest of all at the Food Bank, but we are able to do this work because the community gives. We have collection barrels in local grocery stores. Businesses and schools organize food drives. Scout troops, faith communities, swim teams and motorcycle riders from our local refineries collect food and raise funds. The number of drives increases every year, but we have nearly 800 locations where people can donate food to their neighbors. We must receive this community support because we need to distribute over 1.7 million pounds of food and over 900 turkeys during the holiday season.
You have helped make the holiday brighter for the families we serve every year because the community gives generously. Our committed volunteers help to sort and box the donated food we receive so that the generosity of the community during the holiday season continues to provide for the people we serve into the new year. Because the community gives so generously, we are able to make a difference in the holiday season and throughout the year.
Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: The United States Senate has the opportunity to provide a powerful boost to charitable organizations working to improve lives and strengthen communities all across the country. In July 2014 the House of Representatives approved the America Gives More Act, landmark legislation that would make three major charitable giving incentives (including donations of food inventory) permanent and reliable for donors of both food and funds.
Here is why the legislation is so important to our Food Bank and our community: the America Gives More Act would help the farmers, restaurants, retailers, and food manufacturers we work with donate more excess food to those in need. Up until now, the charitable giving provisions in the tax code have been repeatedly extended on a short-term, often erratic basis that limits their impact, as donors cannot consistently rely on the certainty of receiving tax benefits for their generous donations. This is certainly true for small businesses that are relying on the food donation tax deduction to provide a needed incentive to help them establish a regular donation program with food banks. The uncertainty they face with the tax code has a tremendous impact on the amount of food we can bring in to the Food Bank, and in turn, get out to those in need.
In addition, the America Gives Back Act has much needed expansions of the food donation deduction that would allow farmers and ranchers to take the same tax deduction when donating food – a much needed improvement. Our Food Bank is now distributing 10 million pounds of fresh produce every year – and we anticipate this legislation would help us increase that amount.
The impact of the America Gives More Act on our mission—and those we serve—would be significant. With over 70 billion pounds of wholesome excess food wasted each year, we have a critical opportunity to give food banks and food donors a powerful tool to donate more food.
The U.S. Senate now has the opportunity to include the America Gives More Act in tax legislation that’s expected to be voted on after the election. Doing so would have a significant and positive impact on millions of individuals and families in every community who benefit from the programs and services provided by charitable organizations across the country. To contact your senator and ask them to support this legislation, call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Many dedicated refinery workers, contractors and their families all joined together at Supplies and Solutions in Fairfield excited for this year’s Refinery Run with a new starting point and new, longer route for all to experience together. Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery, Shell Oil Products US, Phillips 66 and Valero Benicia Refinery began collecting food and money in the beginning of August and ended mid-September with a fundraiser celebration which includes a Poker Run, sponsored by Supplies and Solutions, Contra Costa Electric, Brinderson Constructors, Inc. and Swan Associates, Inc., a motorcycle and custom classic car show, music, great food and lots of laughter. These refineries as well as their contractors and employees of both give time, money and food to help their neighbors in their community throughout the year. It is great experience working with all of them towards our mission. So far this year, they have been able to raise over $25,500 and 2829 pounds of food. Alfred Conhagen, Inc., Carone & Company, Inc., Harder Mechanical Contractors, McJunkin Red Man Corporation, Mistras Group, Inc., Redwood Painting Company Inc., Roberts Company, Unico Mechanical Corporation, Tesoro Refining & Marketing Co., Chevron and Regal Collision Repair, our Contractor Sponsors, also deserve big thanks for all the support they give to the Food Bank. The Shell Clubhouse was jumping with music by Old’s Khool Slingers, powered by DC Solar, and the food was good as always when using England’s Café & Catering. Great vendors, including Joyce Cid CMT, Origami Owl, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, Shell Refinery EMT/Fire engine, Crowne Plaza, Dr. Denise Britt with Contra Costa Chiropractic and Iron Steed Harley Davidson, a fun photo booth from Digital Audio Visual Solutions and a variety of raffle and silent auction items made this day complete. We would like to thank all of you for caring for and helping your neighbors in need.