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Tag ‘ produce ’

Did you know March is National Nutrition Month®?

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month®, an annual nutrition education and information campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, is “Eat Right with Color” and that is one of our favorite topics here at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

Child Eating AppleEat Right with Color is part of our daily work. In many low-income neighborhoods, access to affordable, nutritious food is sparse at best, often leading to higher than average occurrences of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity. At the Food Bank, we aim to help everyone Eat Right with Color by ensuring access to fresh, healthy food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Of the more than 12.6 million pounds of food we distributed last year, an amazing 3.5 million pounds were fresh fruits and vegetables.

Our Senior Food Program is certainly doing its part of making sure seniors eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The ‘Colors of the Senior Food Program’ at our last five distributions brought a greater nutritional value to the bags of food. Green was represented by cabbage and apples. White was represented by onions and potatoes. Orange was represented by oranges, carrots and yams.

Last week our Farm 2 Kids Coordinator visited a few Vallejo schools that receive produce on a weekly basis. Everyone was ecstatic because for the first time they all received a shipment of red and yellow mangoes from the Food Bank. Frequently when she asks the children what they would like to see in Farm 2 Kids they inevitably say enthusiastically “mangoes!” Read more about the mangoes we distributed to hundreds of children on our Food Bank Blog.

Where does the produce come from? As part of our statewide association of Food Banks we are able to purchase surplus produce for pennies on the pound. Fruits and vegetables grown by farmers in the Central Valley are often “not perfect enough” to be sold in grocery stores. Often, they are just too big or too small to be sold and that is why our clients sometimes receive giant oranges or tiny potatoes. The Food Bank buys the produce in large bins and then we have volunteers sort out any items that may have spoiled in transit. They then package the fruits and vegetables in boxes and a driver delivers them to the school site.

These are just a few examples of what Eat Right with Color means here at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano as we strive to provide healthy food for hungry people.

Mangos!

Millions of Mangos or so it seemed! Today we received mangos which we had never received before. So after seeing all of these mangos, I had to look on the internet to see what to do with one. We received these mangos from a produce distributor in Ventura. I am sure all of the California food banks have them right now so this is pretty exciting to have something new and exotic. Will the children eat them – I definitely think so.

So here is what you need to know: The mango is a comfort food. Mangos really can make you feel better! Beyond being delicious and rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, mangos contain an enzyme with stomach soothing properties and act as a digestive aid. Mangos are an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, as well as a good source of Potassium and contain beta carotene. Mangos are high in fiber, but low in calories (approx. 110 per average sized mango), fat (only 1 gram) and sodium.

That is all nice but how do you eat it? You can slice it and eat it or put it in a salad or a rice dish. You can put it in an omelet, add it to French toast or cereal. Add a mango to soup or pizza or just about any dish you can think of. The recipes are endless. So this seems to be the perfect fruit! Check out www.freshmangoes.com to see some great recipes and learn more about the mango. Our mangos are on their way to hundreds of children today. I hope they like them and learn how wonderful fruit can be.

Where does the produce come from?

As the Farm 2 Kids Coordinator, this is probably one of the most common questions I am asked.  As part of our statewide association of Food Banks we are able to purchase surplus produce for pennies on the pound.  Fruits and vegetables grown by farmers in the central valley are often “not perfect enough” to be sold in grocery stores.  Often, they are just too big or too small to be sold and that is why our clients sometimes receive giant oranges or tiny potatoes.  The Food Bank buys the produce in large bins and then we have volunteers sort out any items that may have spoiled in transit.  They then package the fruits and vegetables in boxes and a driver delivers them to the school site.

Learn more about Farm 2 Kids or donate now to help support programs like this.

Students Visit Food Bank

On Wednesday, October 13 students from Ygnacio Valley and Meadow Homes Elementary came on a field trip to the Food Bank.  These two schools are both served by Farm 2 Kids, a program that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income schools.  Students on each school’s Youth Advisory committee got to come and see how the Food Bank receives, packs, and delivers the produce that they receive each week.  The children were excited to see the trucks, forklifts, and other equipment in action but the highlight of the trip was getting to go inside the walk-in refrigerator and freezer.

Students tour the Food Bank

The kids were full of questions and learned everything about the Food Bank, from the types of food in our warehouse to the safety procedures our staff follow.  The trip came full circle when the students were able to see the apples in our warehouse that would be sorted and boxed by volunteers and then delivered to their school that Friday.  Not only are they receiving healthy produce each week, but they now know where it comes from.

Students asking questions and seeing the BIG Food Bank trucks.

Community Action Partnership

September 25, Slow Food Delta Diablo is partnering with Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association, the Food Bank, College Park High School and Brentwood farmers in a day of community action. Called “Gleaning and Cleaning” this day is one of many nationwide actions sponsored by Slow Food USA. Volunteers are being sought to assist Slow Food members in gleaning food from farmers’ markets and local farms or to prepare a Slow Food in Schools garden for the upcoming school year.

Fresh produce from the gleaning will be donated to the Food Bank, local soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The four markets in the county we will be visiting are: Brentwood, Clayton, Pittsburg and Pinole. Farms we will visit are all located in Brentwood. Volunteers are asked to contact Gail Wadsworth for details and to get on a gleaning team.

Slow Food in Schools garden cleaning will be from 9 am to about 2 pm. We are going to be weeding, replanting the strawberry beds, spreading compost in all the beds, spreading mulch and just generally cleaning up so we can get the special day classes ahead of the game and start them on their winter seed starts in the green house as well as getting winter crops in the ground. We ask helpers to bring wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, gloves, sun hats, sun screens and water. College Park high School is located at 201 Viking Drive in Pleasant Hill across the street from DVC. If you would like to assist in this project, contact Lesley Stiles.

Contact:

Gleaning

Gail Wadsworth

925-952-9643

gailwads@earthlink.net

Cleaning

Lesley Stiles

925 323 3230

lesleystiles@comcast.com

California’s Food Banks Go Locavore

Please check out this wonderful article highlighting California food banks’ innovative program to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need: 80 million pounds this year!

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/magazine/11banks-t.html

Last year, we distributed 3 million pounds of produce in Contra Costa and Solano counties. One of the ways we are able to get so much fresh produce into the community is through our Farm 2 Kids program. Every week, Farm 2 Kids provides 3-5 pounds of fresh produce to over 6,000 children in 55 after school programs in Contra Costa and Solano counties. Over 50% of the students in these schools receive free or reduced cost school lunches, meaning at least half of the households in the school are considered low-income by the federal government.

If you have questions or need more information about the Farm 2 Kids program, please contact Caitlin Sly, (800) 870-FOOD extension 241 or csly@foodbankccs.org.

Helping to get the word out

Our friend Anna Chan, the Lemon Lady, has been helping to get the word out about Hunger Action Month. Anna has been harvesting fruits and veggies from people in the community who have an overabundance and taking the produce to hunger relief organizations in the community. Here’s her post from Sunday, August 30, 2009: Hunger Action Month. Don’t you care enough to click a little?.

Keep up the good work, Anna!

For more about Hunger Action Month, visit www.foodbankccs.org and click on the Hunger Action Month logo.

Farm to Family at the White House

The California Association of Food Banks’ (of which we are a member) Farm to Family Program was recognized at the White House on June 30 when President Obama highlighted innovative non-profit programs that are making a difference in communities across the country. The program was recognized as one that is demonstrating results even as the country faces difficult times. Such groups, Obama said, hold the promise of finding solutions to persistent problems and to meeting unprecedented challenges. Farm to Family founder Gary Maxworthy attended the event because of his role in shaping the program since its inception.

Congratulations to Gary and the entire Farm to Family team!

Learn more:
KRON4-San Francisco
San Francisco Food Bank Blog

Got fruit?

Attention residents in the Danville/Alamo area: did you know someone local is willing to harvest and/or deliver local fruit to the Food Bank or other neighborhood pantries?

Anna Chan, The Lemon Lady, says, “Mira is super sweet and interested in helping more. The word is just beginning to get around about her efforts. She has made several donations, driving all the way from Alamo to Concord to deliver fresh fruit to The Salvation Army and Share Food Pantry. Mira is very dedicated to the hunger cause.”

Thank Mira and Anna for all the hard work you are doing!

Fresh fruit in the garden and what to do with it…

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.