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Tag ‘ Feeding America ’

Working To Ensure Food Programs Reach All Those In Need

Originally posted on the Vacaville Reporter: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has direct food distribution programs and we work with nearly 200 nonprofit agencies that feed people in our local communities. The Food Bank is committed to fighting hunger and more than likely you have witnessed our efforts firsthand. There is a good chance that you have seen the food donation barrels around town. And perhaps you have seen a Food Bank banner at a community event or have seen the delivery trucks on the road? You might have even seen us in action if you have come to one of our two warehouses to drop-off donations or volunteer your time. It might be surprising to learn that one of the most important ways the Food Bank helps the hungry individuals in our society doesn’t take place in the public’s eye. Advocating for food and hunger related issues and policies are a crucial part of helping those we serve.

The national organization that we are affiliated with, Feeding America, partners with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) to bring food banks and advocates together in Washington DC each year.  It is a chance for us to communicate with our elected representatives, so they understand the food issues we see in our communities.  We are grateful that in Solano and Contra Costa counties, our elected officials have a good understanding of what causes hunger.  It is important that we share real-life stories with these policy-makers about the people we see. They, in turn, can help others understand the challenges people face trying to get assistance from federal food programs.

In some instances, we advocate for programs that directly impact our ability to provide food.  The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides the Food Bank with food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  We receive millions of pounds of food as well as administrative funds that allow us to provide food to the agencies we serve. We also provide this food directly to people who come to our Food Assistance Program.

The Food Bank realizes we need to help carry the message to elected officials that there are many Californians that legitimately experience food insecurity. The CalFresh program provides benefits to eligible low-income Californians. CalFresh is the first line of defense against hunger, providing food assistance to low-income children, seniors and disabled individuals.  Because so many people need food assistance, this program is a significant part of the budget and Congress often looks to cut programs like CalFresh.

The Food Bank recognizes that our distribution programs only address part of the public need and that the behind-the-scenes work we do to influence public policy is vital.  There is no doubt that the Food Bank plays a significant role in helping people in need, as we distributed 20-million pounds of food just in the last year.  However, people also rely on CalFresh, school lunch, Meals on Wheels and TEFAP.  We need to do our part to ensure that all these programs get the appropriate funding, so the most basic of needs, such as providing your body nourishment, can be a reality for all.

Food Safety Is A Top Priority For Local Food Bank

Originally posted on the Vacaville Reporter: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is a member of Feeding America, the national association of food banks. Feeding America food banks are held to a high standards for service, food quality and transparency. We use the same standards as the corporate food industry because food banks realize that low-income people deserve food that meets the same standards as the grocery industry demands.

Food banks have been working with the food industry to demonstrate how we can work in tandem to save food from being wasted. Feeding America collaborated with several major grocery chains as they developed systems that would significantly reduce the amount of food waste in their stores.  Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, SaveMart and other chains established procedures where perishable food items would be pulled from the retail display while the food was still at a high level of quality. In some instances, meat could be frozen or other steps could be taken to extend the useful life of the food. As the grocery industry developed this system, they worked with Feeding America food banks so we could be an effective partner in accepting and distributing the grocery donations they were able to provide.

As the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano set up procedures to accept these donations, we focused on our building structure and developing our training plans. The Food Bank either picks the donations up in our refrigerated trucks or has member agencies directly pick food up from stores. We provide the agencies that pick the food up with thermometers so they can verify the proper temperature of the food and we provide them with thermal blankets to properly transport the food to the agency refrigerators. All the people involved in this effort receive ServSafe® training, so they are properly trained in safe food handling methods. Because we take these steps and because we handle food properly, millions of pounds of valuable food has become available to the people we serve.

Constantly improving the food safety standards of the Food Bank is a constant part of our culture. Part of our contract with Feeding America requires that our warehouse pass a third-party sanitation and safety audit.  AIB International is a food safety audit firm that has been doing training and food safety compliance work for over one hundred years (they began as the American Institute of Baking). With their advice, we developed a thick binder full of processes and protocols that have become part of every decision we make in our warehouse. The procedures our truck drivers and warehouse workers follow insure that the food we distribute is safe.  We take great pride that our audit score (on a scale of 1000 with 700 being a passing grade) was 935. I was pleased that the reaction our warehouse employees had after receiving the good news was to start thinking of how we could improve. We work to get better because it is the right thing to do for the people we serve.

USDA Releases New Food Insecurity Report During Hunger Action Month

hunger action month banner

Breaking News – The United States Department of Agriculture reported today that 14.5 percent of American households (15.6% in California) remain food insecure, meaning those households had difficulty at some time during the year in providing enough food for all their members.

When it comes to food insecurity rates, any number is too high. That’s why the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano — along with the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks — is asking you take action this September during Hunger Action Month.

Here are three easy actions you can take:

GO ORANGE! Orange is the official color of hunger awareness and makes a bold statement to start the conversation about hunger. Join us tomorrow, September 5, by wearing the color orange. Or show your support online by making your Facebook and Twitter profiles orange. Don’t have any orange? We’ve got you covered. Fill out this form to receive Go Orange materials to share with friends and family.

EXPERIENCE the Hunger Challenge happening September 16-20. Can you shop and eat for just $4.50 a day? Get a sense of what life is like for those struggling to put food on the table with the average benefit for people who receive SNAP (formerly Food Stamps). Sign me up for the Hunger Challenge!

SHARE a hunger fact with friends, share the action calendar or just share a great pic of your Go Orange activities with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram#HungerAction.

Ready to take action? Check out a list of actions you can take during Hunger Action Month and beyond!

Together, we can solve hunger.

Food Bank Director Larry Sly Honored for Hunger-Relief Efforts

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter – Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Executive Director Larry Sly has been awarded the 2013  Fellowship by Feeding America for leadership, local and national impacts and commitment to hunger-relief, it was announced Wednesday.

The annual award from the Food Bank’s national network honors the ideals of the late John van Hengel, a soup kitchen volunteer and community activist credited with founding the nation’s first food bank in 1967.

“There are so many excellent leaders in the food bank movement who have won this award before me, so I am understandably humbled and honored to be among them this year,” Sly said in a prepared statement.

Under Sly’s leadership the Food Bank has developed several comprehensive programs designed to distribute more food efficiently and with as little waste as possible.

His latest efforts involve working with local growers to get produce to low-income neighborhoods.

Sly began at the food bank in 1976 as one of two employees as a truck driver. Since then the Food Bank has grown to a 35,000 square-foot warehouse in Concord and a 40,000 square-foot warehouse in Fairfield with a fleet of trucks.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

New Study Shows That 22% Of Children Live at Risk of Hunger in Contra Costa and Solano Counties

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, released a new study which reveals in 21.7% and 22.4% of children under the age of 18 are struggling with hunger in Contra Costa and Solano counties respectively.

The study, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011”, also reveals that there are children struggling with hunger in every county in America. Nationally, while one in six Americans overall are food insecure, the rate for children is much higher: nearly one in four children are food insecure.

About half of the food insecure children in the Contra Costa and Solano counties are above 185% of the poverty line meaning they do not qualify for most federal nutrition programs including the National School Lunch Program due to the high cost of living in the area.

When discussing the issue with Larry Sly, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Executive Director, he said: “It is ironic that many children in our community are ineligible for government assistance programs, but their parents make so little, the children are food insecure. This is why the Food Bank’s work, both providing food and advocating for change, is so important.”

“Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity” provides the following data in an interactive map format:

  • The percentage of the population who is food insecure in your county.
  • The percentage of children in your county that is eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.
  • The percentage of children in your county that is not eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.

By providing additional details about the face of child food insecurity at the county level, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011” will enable food banks, the community based agencies they serve and policy makers to redefine approaches in addressing needs of hungry children and their families and develop more effective policy solutions.

You can be a part of the solution. Whether it’s by advocating and raising awareness, making donations, or giving of your time and energy, everyone can play a role in ending hunger during Hunger Action Month this September. Learn more at www.foodbankccs.org/hungeractionmonth.

The AT&T Pioneers Dish It Up: Feeding Families Healthy Food

In celebration of the AT&T Pioneers’ 100 years of service, volunteerism and philanthropy, Pioneers are joining together for one of the biggest volunteer efforts in history. Pioneers Dish It Up aims to feed one million people across the U.S. and Canada who face the daily challenge of “food insecurity”.

Between September 11th and 25th, the Pioneers will be addressing the issue of hunger by participating in the Pioneers Dish It Up project, which includes a healthy food drive, as well as other service projects aimed at feeding the hungry.

In partnership with Feeding America and its network of member food banks, a list of healthy food donations has been compiled to guide those who will be participating in the food drive. This project is just the latest effort by our local AT&T Pioneers of the George S. Ladd Council to support the Food Bank and our mission.

 

Local Supporters Stepped Up to the Challenge!

As we work harder every day to assist individuals and families right here in Contra Costa and Solano counties during these tough economic times, we couldn’t do it alone. Hunger in our community is a daily challenge, and we are always looking for partners in our hunger relief efforts.

That’s why we were excited to participate in the Pound For Pound Challenge which brought together NBC’s “The Biggest Loser: Couples,” General Mills, Subway, and the Feeding America network of food banks. The Pound For Pound Challenge invited individuals to pledge their weight loss goals and or every pound pledged the Pound For Pound Challenge donated the monetary equivalent of a pound of groceries to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

The response we had from our community was inspiring! A grand total of 29,448 pounds were pledged which means our food bank will be receiving a donation of $3,239.28. On behalf of all of us at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and the 132,000 people in Contra Costa and Solano counties who we serve each day, thank you for taking the Pound For Pound Challenge.

A special thanks to the local businesses and volunteers who stepped up to the challenge and helped us spread the word about this campaign so we could earn more funds and feed more individuals and families in need. These include:

Anderson Bros. Movers in Martinez                                                                            pound for pound challenge
Aspire Pilates in Concord
Bally Total Fitness in Pleasant Hill
Benicia Fitness
California Fitness in Martinez
California Health Club in Pleasant Hill
Cambiati Wellness Programs in Walnut Creek
Clayton Fitness Center
Clayton Mind and Body Connections
Clayton Snap Fitness Center
Curves in Martinez
Diablo Rock Gym in Concord
Dr. Lujan Chiropractic Office in Concord
Fitness 19 in San Ramon
Forma Gym in Walnut Creek
In-Shape Sport in Concord
Kelly Ann’s Day Spa in Pleasant Hill
Lafayette Health Club
Lynch Fitness in Walnut Creek
Millennium Sportsclub Vacaville
PATH Performance Training Center in Pleasant Hill
Play It Again Sports® in Pleasant Hill
Spark Fitness in Pleasant Hill
Sports Basement in Walnut Creek
Step It Up Studios in Pleasant Hill
The Big C Athletic Club in Concord
The Dailey Method® in Lafayette
The Living Lean Program in Orinda
The Yoga Company in San Ramon
24 Hour Fitness in Moraga
24 Hour Fitness in Walnut Creek
UFC Gym in Concord
Walnut Creek Sports & Fitness Club
Willow Pass Recreation Center in Concord
YMCA in Pleasant Hill
YogaWorks in Walnut Creek
And our very own Pound For Pound Challenge Champion and Biggest Loser Season 9 Contestant, Patti Anderson. We appreciate your amazing contributions and support Patti!

Last but not least, we thank John Young and Don Potter of 95.3 KUIC Hometown Morning Show and the following Food Bank Ambassadors for their outstanding job in helping us get so many supporters on board: Linda Barron, Barbara Beckert, Pat Ellison, Marcia Fortney, Susan Stillings, Linda Waxman, and Aaron Yuen.

To learn more about our ambassador program, email pmcdowell@foodbankccs.org.