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Res Ipsa Jokuitor – Kickoff for Food from the Bar

Guest post by Kerstin Firmin, Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Communications Coordinator: Res Ipsa Jokuitor, the Comedy Night kickoff event for Food from the Bar, was a rib-splitting success.

The mood in the Back Forty BBQ banquet room was festive as more than 130 guests mingled, ready to be entertained by comedians Rocky LaPorte and Andrew Norelli. Food from the Bar Planning Committee Chair Ed Shaffer of Archer Norris and Lisa Reep, Executive Director of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, along with other committee members were on hand to greet guests and sponsors, including Archer Norris, Gilardi & Co., Nevin, Ramos & Steele, and U.S. Legal Support.

A delicious dinner of BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken and all the appropriate fixings, provided by Back Forty BBQ, quieted the crowd long enough for MC Justice James Marchiano to kick off the program.

Larry Sly, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, thanked those in attendance for their efforts over the past 16 years to provide much needed food and funds to Contra Costa and Solano residents. Sly shared statistics on hunger that surprised many of those assembled, noting that nearly 1/3 of all children in Contra Costa and Solano experience hunger on a daily basis.

Sly was followed by comedian Andrew Norelli. Norelli, a Danville resident and Northern California native soon had the crowd laughing at their own expense. Norelli drew heavily on his local knowledge and family life to keep the crowd smiling. Showing no fear of the legal system, he quickly made Justice Marchiano the target of many lighthearted barbs.

Following Norelli on stage was Rocky LaPorte. LaPorte whose credits include the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Comedy Central Specials, hit the crowd hard with his Chicago style humor. Like Norelli, La Porte seemed especially taken by Justice Marchiano, seeking reassurance frequently – “Isn’t that right, Judge?”

The event marked the beginning of the two-week long competitive food drive which has raised more than $800,000 and 54 tons of food for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano since its inception 16 years ago. Eager to hit this year’s goal of $100,000 and 10,000 pounds of food, the food drive began at the door: Comedy Night attendees were asked to bring canned goods for the chance to win great door prices. Almost 180 pounds of beef stew were collected that night – a great start!

Food From the Bar Comedy NightFood From the Bar Comedy Night

To see more photos, visit the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Facebook album: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.206303136068208.55826.156293777735811.

Food Bank Participates in Nutrition Study

Guest post by Lindsay Johnson, Food Bank Program Director: The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is one of six California food banks currently working with researchers from UC Berkeley who are documenting current nutrition-related policies and practices in relation to the provision of foods to low income families through emergency food services. This research is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Healthy Eating Research, 2010-2011.

In recent years, it has become apparent that many families rely on emergency food services for more than a few days each month, and there is concern about the healthfulness of food provided through emergency food pantries in light of the obesity epidemic and concerns about diet-related chronic disease. The emergency food system has been based on the distribution of shelf stable, low/no cost food for years. This food is frequently highly processed and contains large amounts of salt and sugar.

There are 3 components to the study. All Feeding America food banks were invited to participate in a national online survey in March assessing current organizational policies regarding the nutritional quality of the food provided. Six food banks, including Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, will have their food inventory data analyzed for the period 2007-2010 to evaluate whether actual foods received and distributed have changed during this period. As part of this second component, the research team will conduct short interviews with the Executive Directors of the Food Banks and key staff members regarding the provision of healthy foods. The third component will include food pantry visits at the end of May to five emergency food pantries at each of the six food banks for a total of 30 pantry visits. At the pantry visits, the pantry director will be interviewed, and a survey team will conduct a short interviewer-administered questionnaire with 15 randomly selected clients regarding their food preferences and pantry experiences.

Participating in this survey will provide the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano with client and pantry feedback, as well as giving us the opportunity to see how we compare with our peers with regard to providing nutritious food. This study will help us assess how effective and extensive our increased distribution of produce has been throughout the communities we serve. Information provided will help us with future decisions regarding the improvement of nutrition provided by the emergency food system.

10,000 Letters Campaign: Make Your Voice Heard

Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget would eliminate the California Food Assistance Program, cut Supplemental Security Income, and decimate the CalWORKS program and other vital services, all of which will exacerbate hunger in your community and throughout the state.

With just a short time left before Governor Schwarzenegger introduces his May Revision budget, it’s imperative that voices for health and human services are heard loud and clear in the Capitol! 

That’s why the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is partnering with other human services organizations across the state in asking everyone to generate letters for the “10,000 Letters Campaign”.  Our shared goal is to generate 10,000 letters to members of the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees and other leaders in opposition to the Governor’s proposed budget as soon as possible! 

We know that several thousand letters have already been generated – NOW we need your help to ensure we meet (and hopefully surpass) our goal of 10,000! 

Please click on the links below for your legislators, print out, sign, record your name, city and zip code (below your signature), and mail or fax each letter as soon as possible. We urge you to ask your family members, friends, colleagues, and anyone else to do the same. Thank you!

Assembly Member Joan Buchanan
Assembly Member Noreen Evans
Assembly Member Nancy Skinner
Assembly Member Tom Torlakson
Assembly Member Mariko Yamada
Senator Mark DeSaulnier
Senator Loni Hancock
Senator Pat Wiggins
Senator Lois Wolk

To locate your State representatives, visit www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html. If you are having difficulty opening any of these documents, please email Patty McDowell at pmcdowell@foodbankccs.org.

Tune in to Idol Gives Back on April 21 and Support Your Local Food Bank

The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks is among the charities that will benefit from this year’s American Idol fundraising special, Idol Gives Back. Be sure to tune in to Idol Gives Back on Wednesday, April 21 at 8/7c PM on FOX. We’re excited not only for their generosity, but also for this great opportunity to spread awareness about hunger in our country — a true national emergency! See how you can get involved in Idol Gives Back and support the fight against hunger in America.

The Emmy Award-winning television event and musical celebration will raise awareness and funds to benefit various U.S. and international charities, during the Top 7 Results Show.  Donations made to the Idol Gives Back Foundation will help the children and families most affected by these tough economic times. You can get more information about the event and hear from Season 9 Finalists on the new Idol Gives Back section of American Idol’s website (http://www.americanidol.com/idolgivesback/). Visitors to the page can make donations prior to the event or join the Help Me Give Back program and raise their own funds by creating individual fundraising pages or joining fundraising teams.

All of the funds raised by the Idol Gives Back Foundation and granted to Feeding America will support the campaign for a Hunger-Free America ensuring that the Feeding America network will continue the fight against hunger with innovative programming and persistent advocacy.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization Advances to Senate

On March 24, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry unanimously approved the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill.  The advancement of this critical piece of legislation is a step forward in achieving an end to childhood hunger by 2015, and has the potential to increase access to nutritious food for children during the school day, afterschool, in the summer, over weekends and extended school holidays.

Now the current bill is moving to the full Senate for a vote later this spring or early summer.  So it is a critical time for us, as caring citizens, to ask our legislators for their support in fully funding Child Nutrition Reauthorization in order to end child hunger in this nation.

We urge you to simply call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and tell your senator “we need a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill as soon as possible at the President’s proposed level of $10 billion over 10 years so we can achieve the President’s goal of ending child hunger by 2015”.  A comprehensive and fully funded Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill needs to pass quickly so that our children do not have to wait another year to have access to the nutritious foods needed to lead healthy and productive lives.

For more information about engaging in advocacy efforts during Child Nutrition Reauthorization, please click here to join our mailing list.

George Miller reads a book about nutrition from children served by the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County in his office in Washington, DC.

One Man, One Bike, One Fight

Drew Marinelli was a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa who became so concerned about hunger throughout the world that he decided to ride his bike from Key West, Florida to San Francisco to spread the word about steps people can take to help those in need. In doing this trip, he has connected with Rotary clubs throughout the US, and our Executive Director’s club in Concord hosted him on September 25.

Drew is also interested in the work food banks do to fight hunger, and he toured our facility before attending the Rotary meeting. Drew shared his observations on hunger in the world and about his bicycle ride with staff and volunteers.

Drew’s trip was featured on the 5 O’clock news on FOX2 that night. You can find out more on his website onemanonebikeonefight.com. Finally, I should note that Drew is 6 feet 9 inches tall, so we took his picture with Kathleah, our Accounting Specialist, who is less than 5 feet tall. :=)

Vallejo CROP Hunger Walk

Community organizers and everyday citizens helped to end hunger locally and around the world on Saturday, April 25, by taking part in the CROP Hunger Walk at the Ferry Terminal at the Vallejo Waterfront benefiting four local organizations including the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Read more and see pictures here: http://www.vallejocropwalk.blogspot.com/.

See the Lemon Lady in the news

Anna, The Lemon Lady, spent the day with ABC7 talking about the work she does and the need for fresh produce at food pantries. Read more here: http://claycord.blogspot.com/2009/06/lemon-lady-of-claycord-on-abc7-news.html
and here: http://thelemonlady.blogspot.com/2009/06/exciting-day-with-abc-news-reporters.html.

You’re invited!

What: The first HUNGER FIGHTERS Community Advocates Against Hunger meeting.

Why: Learn what it means to be a community advocate and about the legislation the Food Bank supports. This is your chance to ask us questions!

When and Where: June 10 at 5:30 at the Food Bank warehouse in Concord and June 11 at 5:30 at the Food Bank warehouse in Fairfield. Visit our website for directions.

More info or to RSVP (by June 5): Lisa Sherrill, lsherrill@foodbankccs.org or 925-771-1304.

Stamp Out Hunger this Saturday

Help the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger by placing nonperishable food items by your mailbox prior to your regular mail delivery on Saturday, May 9.

How to Participate:
1) On May 9th, simply place bags filled with nonperishable food items next to your mailbox. See our list of most-needed foods for suggestions.
2) Your letter carrier will pick your food donations up and the food will be delivered to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.
3) It’s that easy!
Learn more by reading stories from the frontlines: Letter Carriers who serve Contra Costa and Solano Counties.