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Donations of Healthy Food Make a Difference

Originally posted in the Vacaville reporter: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano distributed 16 million pounds of food last year and we are extremely proud of the fact that 6 million of that was fresh fruits and vegetables. As part of the Food Bank’s mission, we strive to provide nutritious food to our community and fresh produce is a large part of that.

Nonperishable food items will always be a vital resource for the Food Bank and your donation of nonperishables means variety for the partner agencies we serve.

To be able to provide the community with the healthiest food possible, canned meats, whole grains, nuts, beans, canned fruits and vegetables are all great options to donate.

Some examples are:
Tuna
Peanut butter (in plastic container)
Canned chicken
Brown rice
Whole-grain dry cereals
Whole-grain pastas
Canned fruits, packed in juice instead of syrup
Dried fruits (no added sugar)
Canned soups, beans and legumes
Lentils
Low-sodium soups

Other great things to donate include whole unsalted nuts and seeds, honey and dried spices.

Protein is one of the more expensive items for the people we serve, so donation of nonperishable, quality proteins greatly helps those with limited access to these items. Canned fish and other meats are great forms of protein in a longer lasting, useful form.

When deciding what to donate, consider what you and your family and friends like to eat. Think about what kinds of pantry staples you use. Just as you strive to provide the best food possible for your family, the Food Bank provides quality food to the people we serve. Nutritious foods make the biggest impact.

Please remember, if that canned item has been sitting in the back of the pantry for an unknown amount of time and/or it is more than one year past the expiration date, it’s probably best to leave that donation at home. Also, we are unable to accept alcohol of any kind, home-canned goods or opened packages/jars. Finally, no glass please.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what food you give and how much to donate. However, please remember that your donations are a fundamental part of our goal to provide the healthiest, most useful food to our community.

Our website has further information on how to donate and how to start your own food drive. Please visit www.foodbankccs.org.

 

Building Community, Sharing Food

During the summer months, many think of sun, vacation and playtime, but at the Food Bank we are thinking of ways to meet the ongoing need for food in our community. Food drives are an important part of the food we provide, but during the summer, food donations are dramatically down compared to during the holiday season. In an exciting new effort to bring in a steady supply of food all year, we are embarking on a new project called the Contra Costa & Solano Food Project (CCSFP).

The Food Project is a donor drive, not a traditional food drive. Rather than asking for one-time contributions of food, volunteers enlist their neighbors to become long-term food donors. People commit to giving a small amount of food every two months, which provides our Food Bank with a year-round supply of food and provides the donors with the ongoing satisfaction of making a real difference.

Our key volunteers to the CCSFP are the Neighborhood Coordinators that enroll their neighborhood often asking friends and acquaintances that live close by. The Neighborhood Coordinators (NCs) can choose to involve a few houses, a whole street, or several blocks. The Food Project begins when the NC takes a supply of information cards and green Food Project bags to neighbors to explain the program and invites them to join in helping to provide food for hungry people in their community (we’ll show you how!).

The Food Project was created in January 2009, by a small group of Ashland, Oregon residents. They realized that many of their neighbors wanted to help fight hunger in their community, so they created a simple, door-to-door food collection system to make it easy for everyone to participate. They had three goals:

1. To provide a regular supply of food that would help feed hungry neighbors all year round.

2. To create new neighborhood connections and strengthen their community

3. To serve as a model for other communities

The volunteers promised to stop by their selected neighborhood homes every 2 months, pick up the food and take it directly to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. The project started with a core group of 10 volunteers picking up food and netted 600 pounds of food. One year later, there were over 150 Neighborhood Coordinators. By December 2010, the collection was over 28,000 lbs in one day! And this quantity of food still comes in on the 2nd Saturday of every other month.

It is now our turn to join in the Food Project movement as it spreads into California and soon across the nation. The Contra Costa & Solano Food Project needs you to make this grassroots effort a success. Whether you’re interested in donating food, collecting it, or helping build community in other ways, we invite you to join us as we form our neighborhoods for our first pickup day of August 11th. Learn more and get started by filling out a contact form on the Food Project website, or call Joan Tomasini at 925.676.7543, extension 208 or email jtomasini@foodbankccs.org. Together we are building community by sharing food!