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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.

Help Us End Hunger with NBC and Safeway

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.

 

Community Members are Connected in a Variety of Ways to Our Efforts to Feed People

Originally posted in The Vacaville Reporter:  Nearly four decades ago, when I started working at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano I didn’t realize how large a role the organization would play in the community. As the years have passed, the Food Bank has become a well-recognized resource for helping those in need in the community. Because of that recognition, people lend their support to our mission to end hunger.

Community members are connected in a variety of ways to our efforts to feed people. For those who have the time to do hands-on work, we ask volunteers to sort food, bag produce and assist with our remote distributions. Distributing nearly twenty million pounds of food means we need to address logistical issues, including trucking, food storage and running efficient distribution programs. For all these tasks, we depend on volunteers.

We also rely on volunteers to help us obtain the food we need. Food drives are organized year round because hunger exists year round. Our food drives range from the major effort organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers every May or the Boy Scouts each November to food collections done by individuals. Gardeners grow extra vegetables in their back yard to share with their neighbors in need. Businesses organize food collections as a way to give back to their community. We receive over a million pounds of food every year from a generous community, while we engage people in helping end hunger.

We are also lucky that a generous community helps us raise the money we need to distribute the food we gather. Gathering the support we need also goes from large to small, with the total effort being important to our work. We organize events like golf tournaments, motorcycle runs, or Uncorked, a food and wine afternoon at GV Cellars in Fairfield on August 3. Events like Uncorked bring people together to help the Food Bank, creating a sense of community around a common cause. Giving to charitable causes is an important part of many people’s lives, and they know the Food Bank plays an important role in improving our community.

Many people learn the habit of giving early in life. I talked to someone yesterday who shared the story of their nine year old daughter who sold wrist bands to her friends to raise money to buy food for the Food Bank. Her parents and grandparents matched the money she raised, helping her buy more food to bring to the Food Bank. When she brought the food to us, she saw how her donation became part of a bigger effort to help. Our work is possible because we connect with those in the community who want to see an end to hunger.

Public Works to Provide Food

public works

The Contra Costa County Public Works Department decided to host a food and money drive to help the Food Bank kick off the summer – a time when need is high, but donated food runs low. This county department collects money for the Food Bank during the holidays but they feel it is important to collect food and money at other times of the year. Congratulations on a fantastic drive of 463 pounds of food and over $1,300 which equates to 3,010 meals!

A Fairy Tale Food Drive

Employees of the Disney store at Sun Valley Mall were inspired to hold a food drive after volunteering at the Food Bank and learning about the need for food in their community. So far they have collected a fantastic 418 pounds of food which equates to 334 meals. The employees are continuing to collect food throughout 2014 for those in need in our community.

Before we brought them a collection barrel, they built a fairy tale can castle.
disney can castle

When Law Firms Compete Everyone Wins

Guest post by Food from the Bar Chairperson, Edward L. Shaffer of Archer Norris: The Contra Costa County Bar Association recently completed its 22nd annual Food from The Bar fundraiser for the Food Bank.  This was a special milestone year because they anticipated hitting One Million Dollars in total contributions.  While money still is trickling in, we did it and are well on the way to our second million!  Approximately 35 law offices in the County representing more than 800 employees raised more than $61,000 – for a grand total of more than $1,016,000.  Over the years participants also have collected more than 55 tons of food.

An important part of the drive was the 18th annual Comedy Night kickoff, attended by close to 200 people and headlined by noted comedian Will Durst.  Generous sponsors donated $13,500 to underwrite the event and help make the million dollar goal.  Some were new while others have been supporters for many years – and we thank them all!

Special Benefactor:
Wells Fargo

Patrons:
Archer Norris;  Liffey Network Solutions Inc.;  Newmeyer & Dillion LLP;  Steele, George, Schofield & Ramos LLP;  Timken Johnson LLP;  U.S. Legal Support

Contributors:
Certified Reporting Services;  Esquire;  Frankel Goldware Ferber;  Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Raines;  Gil Berkeley;  Law Offices of Suzanne Boucher;  MassMutual Financial Group;  Miller Starr Regalia;  Quivx;  Scott Valley Bank

In-Kind Supporters:
Back Forty Texas BBQ, Contra Costa County Bar Association, The Recorder

The Kids Run the Food Drive

Guest post by Galila Kitzes: A few weeks ago, the students of ACE Charter School– a small kindergarten through 6th grade elementary school in Vacaville – organized and ran their own food drive. ACE has a dedicated group of parents who support all kinds of community activism. But as much as we parents like to engage the kids, sometimes it’s hard to turn off our own need to control outcomes and take a chance on letting the kids do it…letting the proverbial chips fall where they may even if it’s not in pretty, well planned patterns of success.

So, we took a little risk. Students planned as much of the drive that they reasonably could. On a Friday morning five, multi-age classes planned one aspect of the food drive and a team of about 15 parents guided them through it. The parent volunteers didn’t give long explanations about how Food Banks or Food Pantries work. Instead, we asked students to tell us in their own words what they thought a food drive was – which took about 3 minutes – then they got to work. Our youngest classes decorated collection boxes for each classroom and made posters. The middle grades made fliers and ideas for meal donations instead of just single item donations. They also created an enormous chart on which to display each class’s progress for item collection. The oldest class came up with the general plan: how long the food drive would run, collection goals for each student and, of course, the prize for the classroom that collected the most items. In addition to setting up the rules of the food drive, the older students played the Wheel of Life with Houston, a Food Bank Ambassador. This game teaches kids, in a straight forward manner, how a person or a family becomes in need of emergency food assistance. Kids’ thinking evolved from seeing hunger as only an issue for the homeless to understanding how a family with a home, electricity and even a vehicle can end up hungry.

After each class had worked on its part, all five classrooms convened in the multi-purpose room, and kids from each classroom took turns explaining what they had done and what the other kids would need to do. The kids strode confidently up to microphones to speak: sometimes awkwardly and with wrong information, sometimes clearly and powerfully. The student audience listened with interest to them all. After this sharing of information and food drive planning, the kids went along their merry way to recess.

The parents left on their merry way, too. The older students decided to let the drive run for 3 weeks…how would all this work out? The students had copies of the fliers they designed …but would they just end up flying around the playground much to the chagrin of the custodian or would they make it to family, neighbors and other potential supporters? The posters the students made certainly looked cute and inspiring around the campus…but would anyone even notice them after a few days, let alone a couple of weeks? The chart had to be lugged into and out of the school daily. Would it be a source of motivation? Would the students really care about it after the novelty wore off?

What was the end result? The items came pouring in: 327 lbs the first week, 472 lbs the second week and 434 lbs the final week. One family even donated $100 for the Food Bank. The chart became the focal point for daily inspiration. Each day, kids gathered during recess and after school to count “cans” (the symbol used to represent a donated item). Parents congregated around the graph, too, interested in where their child’s class was relative to the other classes. This competition fueled their motivation, far more than posters and more than fliers. Thanks to Joan Tomasini at the Food Bank, the kids learned that 1,233 lbs of food was an unusually high amount for a school of our size (144 students) and a pride-worthy achievement.

Any school that is interested in teaching kids to be activists in their own community should consider running a food drive in this manner. Given that 1 in 4 recipients of emergency food is a child, kids have a vested interest in supporting organizations like the Food Bank.

Interact Club Decks the Halls

Guest post by Laura Gorecki: The Interact Club at San Ramon Valley High School adjunct of the Rotary of Danville volunteered their time for the benefit of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano by helping decorate one of Danville’s residence home. In the spirit of the holidays we have created a winter wonderland of lights and music. Over 30,000 lights are synchronized with holiday music to create a magical show. Everyone is invited to view the property, sing along, dance in the streets, and if so inclined they can donate non-perishable food in the barrels, located in front of the house, for the Food Bank. The first show starts at 5:30 every evening going in fifteen minute intervals until 9:30pm. The lights will be twinkling and the music will be playing until the end of the holiday season.

San Ramon Valley High School volunteers from left to right: Radhika Tandon, Kellie Kolnes, Jessica Mendez, and Kyle Cuenin.

Partnering to End Hunger

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: Working at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has taught me that trying to feed people in need is all about relationships. We try to run the best food distribution service we can, but accomplishing that depends on volunteer support, financial support and the generosity of the community.

One of the ways we increase the work we do is when we effectively link with community partners.

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 to support a hungry community.

We are able to join with Safeway and Kraft Foods to create an incredibly simple way for people to help.

Safeway offers shoppers a $10 bag of Kraft and Safeway-branded food items for purchase. Safeway allows the Food Bank to place collection barrels in all of its stores so that people can buy these $10 bags and drop them in our barrels.

In addition, the Food Bank asks people to bring other food donations to these conveniently located collection sites.

The cooperation is expanding as Safeway works with NBC Bay Area to help publicize the Safeway Help Us End Hunger food drive. NBC Bay Area has organized one major collection day this Saturday. Newscasters from NBC Bay Area will be joined by local Kiwanis clubs outside of Safeway stores talking to people about the need to help end hunger.

By raising the visibility of the issue of hunger and showing people how this drive helps us feed those in need, NBC Bay Area, Safeway, Kraft Foods and Kiwanis Club members are making a difference.

Collaborative relationships between food manufacturers, retailers, media and community groups make the Safeway Help Us End Hunger food drive a success.

Trick or Treat for Food!

For the second year, Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery challenged 7 teams of Concord High School students to go door to door on Halloween night collecting food and money for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano for the Tesoro 2nd Annual Scare Away Hunger food drive. The teams of 12 students represented Cheer, Choir, Football, Leadership, Music, Soccer, and Softball. Several days before Halloween, the students delivered paper bags to their designated neighborhoods in hopes of increasing donations and thus winning bragging rights. Of course the real winners are those we serve in the community. The grand total was 10,256 pounds of food (3,600 pounds more than last year) and $1,162.05 plus a $1,000 donation from an individual who wanted to do more with their money when they heard that Tesoro would match the pounds/money up to $5,000 for the Food Bank and an additional $5,000 to the Concord High School programs.

The winning team for the food collection was Music with 2,184 pounds of food. The winning team for the money collection was Softball with $323.56. The best surprise of the evening was when a film crew from ABC7 with anchor Alan Wong showed up to film the event. Alan Wong said he thought this was a very creative way to collect food and money for the Food Bank, to involve the students in a fun and rewarding community project and to allow the community to be a part of something good.

 Thank you to Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery for sponsoring the event for a 2nd year. Thank you Ken Dami for your leadership. Thank you Principal Gary McAdam of Concord High for your leadership and getting your fantastic teachers and students involved again. Thank you students for volunteering as a team and making the 2nd year so successful. Thank you community for giving and helping those in need. Did we Scare Away Hunger? I think we did and we will do it again every Halloween until it is gone for good.