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Tenth Annual County Cares Food Fight

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: The Solano County Board of Supervisors recently challenged the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to “bring it on” for the tenth annual County Cares Food Fight. This friendly competition between employees of both 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.

Bake sales, gently-used jewelry sales, and donations for a dress-down day all help the Food Bank’s work. County staff members have fun with the “competition” that exists between departments in each county so they can get bragging rights with their fellow employees. The energy and creativity people put into this drive shows that people truly care about those in need in their community. It also shows they know how to have a fun time as they make a difference.

The County Cup Food Fight benefits the Food Bank several ways. Obviously, the money makes a real difference. This drive has raised over one million dollars in the past nine years, and provides the Food Bank more than $120,000 each year to help our work. But this drive is as important in the sense of community it brings. It is a significant act when people work together to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Through their actions, county employees are saying that it is not acceptable for hungry people to exist in our communities. The money and energy they give are a statement that hunger is not acceptable in our community.

Farewell to the Event of the Summer

For thirteen years the Food Bank has celebrated An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden with many friends and supporters. The end of last month marked our final fundraiser at the Mare Island venue with the historic mansion as our backdrop.

The event was a rousing success, with generous guests and donors providing $140,000 that will enable us to provide 280,000 meals to people in need in the coming months. Guests jammed to the music of Big Cat Tolefree and the Hipnotics, engaged in bidding wars over silent and live auction items like trips, dinners and spa days. They sampled fine wine and food from local vendors before the gourmet lunch, which has been a tradition that never disappoints.

Thank you to all of the attendees, staff, sponsors and volunteers who have helped provide over 5.7 million meals by participating over the last thirteen years.  Those of you who completed our online survey by July 17 were entered into a drawing to win a $25 Safeway gift card. And the winner is… (drum roll)… Paul Clancy of Walnut Creek. Congratulations Paul!

Look for a new and exciting event from the Food Bank in the Fall of 2014.

Local Caterer Brings Support to the Table

Guest post by Leslie Mladinich: The day you will enjoy at the annual fundraiser, An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden, on June 23 equals many meals for hungry local residents who rely on the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano for their monthly nutrition and meal-planning.

And no one knows how far this support will go than Derry Englund, owner of Englud’s Cafe and Catering in Concord, the local business that will be catering the Food Bank’s most important fundraiser with a gourmet lunch. His support of the Food Bank goes back nearly two decades.

When the Food Bank first approached Derry many years ago to ask if he would cater a fundraiser, he had just moved Englund’s – which was founded in 1988 – to its Port Chicago Highway location. Derry thought the Food Bank “was in some church basement somewhere.”

Working with staff and visiting the Concord warehouse “was a real eye-opener to me,” he said.

“What I like to tell people about the Food Bank is the number of meals covered. When people picture the Food Bank, I think they picture something small. But in actuality, you can drive a semi-truck into the freezer,” Derry says with a laugh.

Before founding Englund’s, he was in the meat retail business. Along with catering weddings and other special events, he sees Englund’s role as vital to helping the community by catering nonprofit events at a great value so resources can go to help clients. Derry, a lifelong resident of the Concord and Clayton area, helps the community in other ways as well. Englund’s Catering Service donates food directly to area shelters, Derry helps veterans’ associations and before he founded the company, he worked in youth services. Englund’s also caters the Chamber of Commerce mixers held at the Food Bank and is a favorite lunch spot for Food Bank employees.

Working with food every day, Derry sees there is plenty to go around. “Hunger should not be an issue in the United States,” said Derry,

He challenges Admiral’s Garden participants to take a closer look at the Food Bank.

“I always challenge them to go out and look at the location and take a tour,” said Derry. “It has such an incredible responsibility for so many people.”

Englund’s Café and Catering is located at 4061 Port Chicago Hwy in Concord. Find them on the web at www.englundscatering.com

To reserve your place at An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden, visit www.theeventofthesummer.com.

 

 

Fighting Hunger is Only an Empty Bowl Away

Photo by Linda Elsdon

A fellow co-worker and I were painting bowls for our Empty Bowls event the other day and she shared with me how it is one of her favorite Food Bank fundraisers.  That got me thinking, what is it about Empty Bowls that makes it so special?  Maybe it’s the fact that it goes beyond being just a fundraiser, it goes beyond being just a Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano event.  It is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger whose basic premise is simple: Potters, craftspeople and others in the community contribute handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread, and to meet local activists from their own community and hear how they are working to end hunger and food insecurity.   In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in their community. The money raised goes directly to feed people in need.

A simple idea ,yet is the collective passion and effort of all the people involved that has made Empty Bowls what it has become. Events have now taken place across the United States and in at least a dozen other countries. Many millions of dollars have been raised and donated to hunger-fighting organizations.  It is a project spread through individual communities that has touched people on a global scale.

A key component to Empty Bowls is people.  You.  Me.  Our family and friends.  Local businesses who provid
e sponsorship and volunteer time, such as Chevron,  CBS5, Diablo Magazine and and the AppelLaw Firm in Walnut Creek.  Together we can share a meal, raise awareness and be part of something great.   Everyone is invited to the table.  Won’t you join us?

Register for Empty Bowls, Concord, March 9th 5-7pm

Register for Empty Bowls, Fairfield, March 10th 3-5pm

The Habit Burger and Grill Grand Opening

We love it when great food meets the Food Bank, it’s like everything comes together perfectly.  When the Habit Burger and Grill had their grand opening at their new location in Walnut Creek in October, not only could you get a great lunch, but 100 % of the proceeds went to support the Food Bank.  That’s right, 100%!

There was a line out the door of people wanting their delicious charburgers, salads, and sandwiches!  Personally, the grilled chicken salad was delicious, and so filling it was hard to finish in one sitting.

This was another great example of how our community pulls together and supports those in need.  That day the Habit donated $1,380.00 that went to the Food Bank to purchase necessary staples and produce  that went to seniors, children individuals and families in Contra Costa and Solano counties.

Thank you Habit Grill for becoming one of our Hunger Fighters!

Food From the Bar 21st Annual Fund Drive

Contra Costa County attorneys will once again hold their annual competition to benefit the Food Bank from May 7th thru May 18th. Since its’ inception, this competition has raised more than $891,000 and collected 54 tons of food for hungry area residents. This is a great way for law firms to have fun while collecting food and raising money for the Food Bank. Law firms compete for the highest per capita contribution in their respective categories. Some firms form teams to compete and law offices use a variety of creative fundraising ideas like Bake Sales, Carnival Days, White Elephant Sales, Treasure Hunts, and Eating Contests. The Walnut Creek law firm of Archer Norris will once again organize a Walk-a-Thon around downtown Walnut Creek.

Even better – this year there is a Cyber Competition! You can fight hunger with just a click from your computer! Support your favorite attorney or law firm from the convenience of your home or office by donating online through Contra Costa County Food from the Bar’s Virtual Food Drive! Just go to www.bit.ly/foodfromthebarcc and choose from 10 different food staples, select a quantity and “checkout,” to donate! Select your lawyer or law firm from the Company drop-down menu to see who can donate the most. ! The Food Bank can make your dollar go further. Because of special agreements with manufacturers and buying in large quantities they can purchase at less expensive prices than you find in grocery stores. But make sure your donation is submitted by 4:30pm on May 18th!

Big and Small Toys for All

Guest post by Food Bank volunteer Aaron Yuen: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano was invited to the California Autobody Association East Bay Chapter’s 14th Annual Toys for Tots Model Truck Competition. The dinner event took place at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville on Tuesday, November 16 at 7:00pm. As a Food Bank Ambassador, I was asked to represent the Food Bank joined by my wife Kathryn. It was a most enjoyable evening. The model cars created by the body shops and students were exquisite. Many folks who contributed to the autobody industry were recognized. The models were silent auctioned out to the benefits of two local food banks. The event also gave out many scholarships to autobody schools/students.

Dinner was prepared by Scott’s Seafood. Ceasar salad, stuffed salmon, grilled chicken, and glazed walnut rum cake were served. I purchased $20 of raffle tickets and ended up with 3 prizes by the end of the evening; a $50 gift card to Hana Japan, two $25 gift cards to Umigo Indoor Kart Racing and a hooded sweatshirt size 2XL (after this dinner, size 2XL seemed to fit just right!). As an ambassador, I took the opportunity to give out some “Quick Facts” cards to bring awareness to event goers about our Food Bank and its programs and services.

The event host Gigi Walker served many purposes via this event. What a great idea in honoring people in the industry, grooming the next generation and doing charitable work all in one evening. It was inspiring and humbling for having taken part in such a well thought out event.  By the end of the evening, 157 pounds of donated food was collected. According to Gigi Walker, the auction also raised $3500 with about half of the proceeds going to each food bank.

KGO Fights Hunger

During the week leading up to September 16th, food banks across 9 Bay Area counties were thrilled at the chance to share our mission to end domestic hunger with the audience of KGO Newstalk 810 AM, San Francisco.

In the weeks leading up to the September 16th radiothon to fight hunger, KGO broadcast interviews with Food Bank clients, employees and executive directors. Listeners heard touching stories like the mother who gave up her only meal for the day because her daughter was still hungry and the impact food banks have on communities in need (listen to recorded interviews here). As Food Bank employees, we were also humbled to be reminded of why we go to work every day.

Generous listeners have donated almost $200,000 to date, spread out among the participating food banks, with over $26,000 for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. With more checks still coming in we are calling this radiothon a big success. Thank you to KGO 810 AM for giving our clients a voice, and to all the participants who spoke so well on behalf of the hungry in the Bay Area.

Listen to the KGO interviews of Food Bank clients and staff here.

Jeffery Schaub of KGO and Marla Williams, working to feed her family.

September Events Recap

September was full of fun events that people enjoyed while supporting the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Our Special Events Manager, Renee, tells you all about them. For more information on these events or future events, please visit the events page of our website.

It was a gorgeous Sunday at Winterhawk Winery on September 4th where we were invited to spend the day and share about our Food Bank. The winery was filled with people who came out to support us while enjoying the wine and music. The band (Coast to Coast) had the crowd off their feet and dancing to their favorite songs. The guests were able to visit a few vendors to check out plants and jewelry from local vendors such as Boucher Plants, Alptowne  Accents and Pat’s Purple Geranium. Our raffle was a hit with a signed Brian (Bearded) Wilson baseball and other great prizes. Thanks to Winterhawk for donating a portion of the wine sales to our food bank.

KGO Newstalk 810 joined forces with Bay Area Food Banks to fight hunger on Friday, September 16th with a live radio event dedicated to raising awareness and much needed funds for local food banks in all nine Bay Area counties. This one day event was a huge success helping us to share our stories and mission to so many people in our community as well as raising much needed monetary donations for our neighbors in need.

Contra Costa Builders Exchange hosted their Annual Golf Tournament benefitting our Food Bank. It was warm and sunny for golfers on September 23rd at Shadow Lakes Golf Club in Brentwood. Over 70 golfers played the course the rewarded themselves with an evening of dinner, raffle and awards. CCBX as well as the staff of Shadow Lakes Golf Club made the day a memorable one.

The Willows Theatre Company put on another wonderful Sing for Your Supper event on Saturday September 24th. J’LaChic had the whole place out of their seats and on their feet dancing to the music of Motown. Many thanks to Esses Productions and Willows Theatre Company for putting together a great event. In case you missed it: The final Sing for Your Supper of the series will be held on Nov. 5th.

Our local refineries (Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery, Shell Oil Products US, Valero Benicia Refinery and ConocoPhillips) as well as S&S held a food drive beginning August 1st and ending with a 10 year anniversary celebration fundraiser on September 17th. The 10th Year Anniversary started at the Food Bank with motorcycle run ending at the Shell Clubhouse raising much needed funds for our upcoming holidays. It was a great day filled with food, music, raffle and fun. Their continued support has made a huge difference in helping us help our community.