|Dear Food Bank Family,
We know that your inbox has probably been inundated with many messages regarding the Coronavirus, so we want to be mindful of your time. We know many of you have questions and are wondering how this might be affecting the work we do. Here are three things you should know:
1. Currently, we are currently not shutting down any of our operations or volunteer activities.
2. We are taking extra measures to ensure the safety of our volunteers and staff.
As an AIB International (a food safety audit firm) certified facility, we already hold ourselves to the highest food safety standards. However, since this outbreak, we have added additional safety measures including sending volunteers or staff members home if they exhibit any infectious symptoms and diligently cleaning commonly touched surfaces more frequently.
3. Yes, we do need your help!
Volunteer: We have already experienced several cancellations of volunteer groups and are prepping for more. If you are healthy and able, please sign up for a volunteer shift.
Give: People who would like to support our work can do so at foodbankccs.org/disaster
The need for our services during this national emergency will only grow with reduced or disappearing paychecks and children no longer able to receive their school meals because of shutdowns. We are anticipating many hardworking people who have never needed our services before will find themselves at a food distribution for the first time.
The Food Bank will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 and will follow all regulations and requirements passed down by the CDC and government officials. We are taking this pandemic seriously and have started contingency plans in all aspects of our work. Our plan is to continue to feed the 178,000 people that depend on us for 75% of their daily groceries.
Thank you for helping us continue vital services in these uncertain times. We know what our community is capable of and we will get through this together!
We understand the spread of Coronavirus (also known as COVD-19) is concerning and you may be wondering how this affects the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. As you are probably aware, this respiratory illness does not currently have a large number of reported cases in the U.S., but now is in California, including local counties. The COVID-19 strain presents with pneumonia-like symptoms, including fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is in contact with other Bay Area food banks, our partner agencies and county officials with the priority of ensuring a consistent food supply for all of our clients. Currently, all Food Bank direct distribution programs remain open.
We couldn’t accomplish all that we do without our valued volunteers and staff. We appreciate solid work ethics, but we need to do our part to stop the spread of COVD-19. That’s why we have reached out to staff members and volunteers to let them know we want them to stay home if they are feeling ill–especially if they have a fever, cough or flu-like symptoms. Volunteers and employees displaying symptoms will be asked to go home for the safety of our employees, our volunteers, and the people we serve.
Here are some things YOU can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses:
It’s important for all of us to be informed and have reliable sources of information. Below we’ve listed some reputable official websites you can reference to stay updated.
We will be keeping you updated as news develops as it applies to the Food Bank. As always, thank you for your support.
It is with great sadness that we share the news that our Board Member, Bill Bodnar, unexpectedly passed away on January 12, 2020.
Bill, a retired Vice President at Tesoro, served on the Board most recently since 2017 but has been a supporter and past board member for many years. He was an avid supporter of our organization, and regularly attended advocacy events, galas, and Refinery Runs. He was a very kind and generous man and will truly be missed.
On a personal note, I’d like to say it was a pleasure to get to know Bill albeit for a short while. Bill was on the selection committee that ultimately offered me this opportunity. I was struck by Bill’s enthusiasm for the organization and knowing that he had volunteered to be the next Board Chair, I was looking forward to working with him. He will be greatly missed.
Below is the link to Bill’s obituary:
From Food Bank Board Chair
Dear Food Bank friends,
I am delighted to announce the selection of Joel Sjostrom as our new President and CEO. We conducted an extensive nationwide search, and are so pleased that a person with Joel’s breadth and depth of experience will be joining us to lead the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano into a bright future.
Joel comes to us with decades of leadership experience in which he has demonstrated a record of success delivering consistent revenue growth, building team collaboration, and developing strong teams.
Joel shares: “This is an incredible opportunity to combine my passion for community service and blend it with my professional business experience to grow this incredible organization. I can’t think of a better place to do this than at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. For over 40 years, the Food Bank has been a leader in the fight to end hunger. I am very honored to join this great team.”
In partnership with our dedicated board, staff, and volunteers, Joel will undoubtedly be a great leader for the Food Bank. We’re thrilled to welcome Joel to the community and I hope you will join me in making him feel at home here. You will have the opportunity to meet him very soon — and he is excited to meet you!
Joel takes over from long-time Executive Director Larry Sly who is retiring after dedicating his career to helping people in need. Larry has created a significant legacy of achievement over the past four decades. We are so grateful for Larry’s dedication and service.
Food Bank Board of Directors, Chair
It’s been one year since California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire ignited in Butte County. The unprecedented loss goes well beyond the lives and structures that perished. The survivors lost their sense of security, their sense of normalcy, their independence, and their past. We get first-hand accounts not only from the people we are serving, but we also hear about the realities of life after the fire from our Agency Relations Specialist, Lisa. She’s on the front lines of handling ongoing Food Bank aid to Butte County. And she too lost her home in Paradise one year ago.
Most recently, Lisa told us, “With winter fast approaching, everyone’s new worry is propane and staying warm. I can tell you one thing, everyone is exhausted and most people – even those that have a place to live currently – are unsettled.”
One year ago, after having just lost everything in the fire, a delightful couple receiving food at our distribution made this plea to the Food Bank, “Don’t forget about us. It’s going to be a long time.” Those words really made an impact on us and we can tell them and all the other survivors that we didn’t forget. And our supporters didn’t forget.
With your help, we have been able to maintain our efforts to support Butte County residents. Working together, food is one less thing for these survivors to worry about. In fact, you have helped us provide over two million pounds of food in Butte County over the past year!
Lisa reports, “Most of the people we see at the distributions are surprised we are still able to continue. The need for food, help, stability and someone just being kind–is still very high.”
Moving forward, there is more work for us to do as the challenges to rebuild continue. We know of one couple who just received the all-clear to rebuild on their land…it took 361 days after the fire. Many others–including even people who were insured–are using our services because of all the unexpected expenses involved with rebuilding. Though they were insured, they are finding their policies aren’t going far enough in paying for necessities like land surveys and building permits.
We as Californians lost a little bit of our innocence a year ago. We were reminded that bad things happen to good people. And we realize this could have happened to any of us.
Thank you for allowing us to continue supporting our neighbors to the north. It’s amazing what we can do when we all come together to help people in need.
CONCORD, JULY 23, 2019 — The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and our partner agencies are a community-based network that provides food to people in need, no matter what their legal status. Working with our partner agencies, government organizations and the philanthropic community, we make food available to people through the community agencies we serve and the direct food distributions we operate.
Unfortunately, the current political climate has caused confusion and fear for the people we serve, especially in immigrant communities. I ask your help in making the community aware that as a private non-profit organization, the Food Bank is not obligated to report the legal status of anyone we serve and will not share personal information with immigration authorities. We track the number of people we serve so we can inform the community about hunger, but we will never share the names of the people who receive food from our organization.
The Food Bank also conducts outreach to enroll more people in the CalFresh program, our nation’s most effective response to hunger. When the Food Bank’s CalFresh outreach staff provides application assistance, we send that information to the appropriate county department.
We continue to serve 178,000 people each month who need food assistance. We are concerned that fears of imminent large scale actions are preventing people from getting the help they need. It is important people understand we respect their privacy as we help them get the food assistance their family needs. The Food Bank is part of a community that cares for each other. Please help us fight hunger in service of our neighbors in need.
Food Bank Founder and long-time supporter, Linda Locke, passed away on Christmas Eve. In celebration of the gift she gave our community, we share with you a little background of her early days in food banking.
Linda Locke was a graduate student, wife and mother when she got the assignment of a lifetime in 1975. While working for Contra Costa County Social Services, she was tasked with finding a way to prevent central county food pantries from running out of food before the month was over. Her early work developing a food program called the Community Food Coalition grew to become the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano you know today.
Linda was always driven by her passion to help others, so she took off running. At the time, approximately 370 families needed help with food each month. Linda personally spoke with each pantry in the county to see what was needed to strengthen their service. The answer was collaboration.
Linda was never shy and used her love of public speaking to acquire distribution trucks and large-scale food donations. She was also instrumental in the creation of California legislation to ease the liability of companies who donated food in good faith.
Linda was relocated to other areas of county work in 1976, but her short time in food banking created a lasting legacy. Executive Director Larry Sly recalls, “She created a food bank out of thin air.” The Community Food Coalition went from enough food to provide 30,000 meals in a year to our current organization providing 18 million meals a year.
Larry goes on to say “Personally speaking, I am grateful Linda created the best career for me I could have ever had. But more importantly, I am glad Linda created a program that continues to work toward her dream of ending hunger.”
Photos: Top left: Larry Sly, Linda Locke and Ed Rimer, the first Executive Director of the Food Bank. Bottom left: Juan collecting onions from a local grower. Right: Linda at the 40th-anniversary celebration of the organization she started.
The folks at Red Nose Day (RND) recently reached out to the Food Bank and asked us to speak to a classroom of third graders in Brentwood. They told us how Gabriel, a student at Krey Elementary, was the winner of their national contest challenging students to come up with ways they could help children living in poverty. He and his teacher, Mrs. Berry, won a trip to New York City to attend the RND televised special. When they returned, Lisa Sherrill, the Communications Director at the Food Bank, went to the school and gave the class an overview on how food banks operate and why they are needed.
Lisa shared with the class that 1 in 8 people living in Contra Costa and Solano counties turns to the Food Bank each month in order to get by. She helped the students count off in eights to give them a visual and better understanding of hunger’s magnitude. She also discussed ways they could get involved including by volunteering at a Family Food Sort or by donating food.
The students were quite excited to share the surprise they had waiting for Lisa! Together they walked to the class’ garden on a small corner of the campus and showered her with produce they had grown themselves. They generously donated 17 pounds of cabbage, lettuce, carrots, and broccoli to the Food Bank because they wanted to give it to people who don’t have enough healthy food to eat.
We are grateful for the food and inspired by the compassion shown by Gabriel, his hunger-fighting classmates, and their teacher who started the garden at the school!
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the current flu season is the worst in more than a decade, prompting widespread hospitalizations, outpatient clinic visits, and missed school and workdays. We all know that a key to good health is good nutrition, but as we brace ourselves for several more weeks of flu season, many families will struggle to put food on the table. That’s where the Food Bank comes in. Our goal is to not just feed the 182,000 people who have to turn to us each month; we want to provide them with healthy food.
The Food Bank’s focus on nutritionally-packed produce has grown to new heights. We now distribute fresh fruits and vegetables 7-days a week, year round. In fact, fresh produce now accounts for nearly 60% of the total food we serve the community. Our recipients, including children and seniors, especially benefit from nature’s immune-boosting food as viruses run rampant during the cold and flu season.
When it comes to purchasing shelf-stable pantry items, the Food Bank evaluates the nutritional value and takes into consideration the overall content of sugar, salt, vitamins and minerals in each item. We opt to buy healthier food options that include beans, brown rice, lentils, whole wheat pasta, low-sodium or sodium-free canned goods, and canned fruit in 100% juice (rather than syrup).
With the ongoing support of neighbors like you, we can provide a steady supply of fresh and whole foods that help support good health and immunity for our entire community!
It’s important to us to be transparent with our valued supporters. The 2016-2017 fiscal year recently came to a close and the numbers are in. Here’s a brief breakdown of what those figures mean.
DONATE – 96 cents of of every $1.00
donated goes towards food programs.
VOLUNTEER – Sign up to volunteer by visiting foodbankccs.org/volunteerfairfield.
ADVOCATE – Please help local food banks today by sending a letter to your elected officials calling on them to protect and strengthen this vital anti-hunger program. foodbankccs.org/advocate
In response to current uncertainty about possible changes to assistance programs, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano’s Executive Director has released a public statement on the Food Bank’s commitment to provide food to anyone in need of assistance – regardless of their immigrant status. Read the full letter here. Please reiterate this message to anyone who expresses fear in coming to the Food Bank distribution and share it with any relevant community partners. Thank you for your support to end hunger, and please reach out with any questions you may have.