Originally posted on the Vacaville Reporter: The partnerships the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has fostered with other agencies allow us to reach more people in need.
The mission that guides the Food Bank is “leading the fight to end hunger, in partnership with our community and in service of our neighbors in need.” Last month, we focused on our community partnerships by inviting our partner agencies to attend our annual Agency Summit.
Our partner agencies consist of 180 shelters and pantries and other nonprofit agencies. They provide a variety of services that include setting up transitional housing, assisting the disabled, and providing child-care and career counseling.
This summit allows for the Food Bank and our partner agencies to learn from one another and make our network stronger. This year we gathered at the Joseph Nelson Center in Suisun City and nearly one hundred people participated.
Our partners were able to choose which break-out training sessions they attended. Covered topics included information on fund development, succession planning, advocacy, nutrition on a budget, communication skills and CalFresh outreach.
Experts were on hand from the Solano Community Foundation, along with Solano and Contra Costa CalFresh administrators. Collaborating with these organizations allows us to provide more comprehensive service to the people we assist.
Another opportunity to gain insight and knowledge was from a panel discussion that was held with Food Bank staff members. Partner agencies were able to ask questions and get answers regarding protocols, general operations and safety standards.
The Food Bank is held to high food safety standards and it’s important that our Partner Agencies understand and commit to the same practices. The goal of this Q&A session was to provide clarity, so our organizations can continue to work in tandem efficiently and effectively.
We were incredibly fortunate that our keynote address was made by Menbere (Menbe) Aklilu this year. She was an inspiration to all in attendance. She shared about her tragic experiences in her native Ethiopia, her escape to Italy and her eventual move to the United States.
She told about her humble beginnings performing the most basic tasks at Salute e Vita Ristorante in Richmond and how she now owns the restaurant. She spoke of the Thanksgiving meals she prepares for homeless people and how she gives back by supporting the education of young girls in West Contra Costa.
Ultimately, Menbe’s story was about her ability to dream and her willingness to do the work necessary to make her dreams a reality.
Like Menbe, we want the people we serve to overcome their obstacles. We don’t think anyone in our community should be burdened with the obstacle of chronic hunger.
The work we do is difficult, but we are inspired by what we can accomplish when we work together. We CAN end hunger by working in partnership with our community.
The author is executive director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, based in Concord.