Volunteers Pack 75,000 Meals to Feed the Hungry

Story and photos by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-22

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Rotary District 5180 has 41 clubs in the Sacramento Region that collaborated on a district-wide meal-packaging event on May 17 at Rusch Park Community Center in Citrus Heights. More than 250 volunteers worked in shifts to bag over 75,000 meals, which will be distributed by Rise Against Hunger, a non-profit international hunger relief organization.

Music blasted through the gymnasium as hundreds of volunteers enthusiastically worked their stations, filling buckets with ingredients, bagging, sealing, packing the finished meals into boxes, and stacking boxes onto shipping pallets. Youth exchange students from Rotary International, players from the Casa Robles High School football team, members of local churches, and rotary members from throughout the District all worked together to package meals for those in need.

The meal bags include a nutrient package, a scoop of dehydrated vegetables, soy protein, and rice. One meal package boiled in a gallon and half of water will feed six people. Rich Hale, president of the Citrus Heights Rotary Club, said the meals are sent to developing countries: “They go all over the world, wherever the need is.”

“There’s a lot of starving people in the world, and you cannot function in society if you’re hungry. That’s why this is so important,” said Hale. “One bag can feed a family of six, so you can see the impact. That’s why we do it.”

District 5180 held a Poker Night fundraiser in April to raise $20,000 for the meal-packing event, and Heinz donated an additional $3,000. With a total of $23,000, the District was able to set the goal of more 75,000 meals.

Hale said, “We’ve been wanting to have a big District event, so this was very successful.… Hopefully this gives us momentum for years to come and we can do this again.” Hale said that next year they’d like to fill a shipping container, which holds 289,000 meals.

Hale said Rise Against Hunger is “a very well-organized company.… They bring all the materials and all the equipment we need.”

“This is an amazing undertaking,” said Pete Schroeder of the Fair Oaks Rotary Club. “It’s just incredible when people get together and it’s organized and they know what they’re doing.”

Jim Quinney, Rise Against Hunger community engagement manager for the Sacramento territory, said, “We started working with the Rotary in Citrus Heights four years ago for the 10,000-meal event, and it’s grown and now we’re collaborating with other clubs.… It’s just been wonderful to see the spirit of collaboration, and all these people are true advocates working to end hunger by 2030.”

Quinney described the Rise Against Hunger meal-packing events as “scalable turn-key operations.” They have the resources to organize events of any size, from large work parties to small team-building events.

Quinney said, “We want to engage as many people as possible. Every day we want people thinking about hunger and how they can help.”

“Helping others is a big part of who we are, and who the club is,” said Fair Oaks Rotary Club member Joe Arguelles. “It’s important to come and stand by your fellow man and help other people, help those who need help, so you can really feel like you’ve done something good for somebody.”

The Food Must Get Through

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-05-17

Postal carriers and volunteers unload part of the 2019 food haul donated by Carmichael residents. Mailman Julian Barbero (left) collected more than 800 pounds of groceries from his route.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - As if delivering full loads of mail on the eve of Mother’s Day were not enough, American mail carriers served a humanitarian cause on Saturday, May 11.

The National Post Office food drive gathered groceries for food banks across America. Paper sacks were distributed to millions of homes days before collection and carriers began their Saturday routes expecting to return to base heavily laden. “It was a long, hard day, but worth it to know we were helping needy families,” said the Carmichael Office union president Barry Wilson. Zone 95608’s 50 carriers and many volunteers toiled from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. collecting, hauling and sorting over 16,218 pounds of non-perishables. These were dispatched to the Sacramento Food Bank.

In days that followed, hundreds more pounds of groceries rolled in to the Post Office. The food bank also received these late donations.

“Too many people in this country are still going hungry,” said National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando. “We see this first hand in communities we serve. For more than two decades, our members have taken the lead in the effort to help. It’s an easy way for our customers to help people in their own communities. Food banks usually benefit from an upswing in donations during the holiday season. By spring, stocks dwindle.” Because school lunch programs are suspended during summer, Rolando added, many families scramble to feed children.

The success of the food drive demonstrates “the remarkable connection between letter carriers and the communities they serve,” he said. “It’s a bond that serves the nation well.”

 

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Youth Build Community Garden at Local Church

By Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-09

Over the course of four days, the youth group built a fence, raised beds, walking paths, and a garden shed. Photo by Shaunna Boyd.

Garden Will be Open to Local Community Members in Need of Food Assitance

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Over spring break, the high school youth group from Carmichael Presbyterian Church (5645 Marconi Ave.) completed their mission project for the year by building a community garden in the field behind the church. During the four-day project, they built a fence, raised beds, walking paths, and a garden shed. Then they installed an irrigation system and prepped the beds for planting.

Lisa Torgerson, director of children and youth at Carmichael Presbyterian Church, said the goal is to supply vegetables to the church Food Closet that serves local community members in need of food assistance.

Torgerson said planting should begin soon, and they plan to start with tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash in two of the garden beds. The remaining beds will be open for planting by members of the church and local community. Members of the youth group, Sunday school classes, and the church will tend to the garden.

Sarah Tomlinson, a member of the youth group and a senior at El Camino High School, said that the group usually travels to other locations for their missions. For example, last year they built a school in Honduras for their mission project. This year is the first time they’ve completed a mission project in their home town.  “This project is different, because we’ll get to see the impact it will have on our community over time,” said Tomlinson.

Many of the kids in the youth group have been involved for years and have formed strong friendships. Tomlinson said, “This is a really tight group of kids here.”

John Wallace, a youth advisor for the youth group since 1992, said, “It’s important for young people to give back to their community, so community service is a big focus of our group.”

Since it is a community garden, it is open to the public, and Tomlinson explained that the community garden will provide an excellent opportunity for people in the community to learn about gardening. Tomlinson invited community members to “come check it out. The fence is to keep out critters, not people.”

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Taste of Carmichael Coming May 17

By Paul Scholl  |  2019-05-09

Pacific Seafood was one of last year’s top stops on the food trail. Come by and enjoy every bite! Photo by Paul Scholl

You Gotta Try This!

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - It’s that time again! Come experience the best Carmichael has to offer at the 17th annual Taste of Carmichael. You will not want to miss this fun event as it has been named the Best Event in Carmichael by the community in the Best of Carmichael contest!

Ticket holders can sample food from dozens of American and ethnic restaurants, bakeries and markets throughout the evening. Valley and foothill wineries and breweries will be on hand to pour you their latest vintages and drafts. There will also be live music provided by the popular bands.

Come prepared to win! There will be a number of raffles and a silent auction, so you’ll want to bid or buy tickets. Many local businesses and non-profit groups will be represented, just look for the friendly faces and informational flyers among the booths.

Over the years, your participation in the Taste of Carmichael has helped the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael’s Foundation’s charities such as the Kiwanis Family House, local schools, visual and performing arts projects, children’s programs and numerous community projects. All of the proceeds go back to the community to support children and families so bring your appetite and a friend or two, and join the others as you savor the best of local flavor—the Taste of Carmichael!

The Taste of Carmichael is presented by the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael and will be held on Friday, May 17, 2019 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Carmichael’s La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Road. You must be 21 or older to attend. Tickets for this year’s festivities are $45.00 in advance, but may be purchased at the door for $50. Purchase tickets by visiting www.CarmichaelKiwanis.org or calling Linda Martin at (916) 531-3087 or Donna Miller at (916) 944-2137.

Source: Kiwanis Club of Carmichael, Taste of Carmichael

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Sacramento Food Bank & Families Services Brings Fresh Produce to Urban Neighborhoods

Source: 3Fold Communications  |  2017-03-10

New Produce for All Truck Provides Farmers’ Market Experience

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS), provider of food and support to 135,000 of the 242,000 members of the Sacramento community who are food insecure, just got more mobile.

Its new, Produce for All truck can motor to a destination, and because of its nifty design, roll up its side doors and distribute food akin to a famers’ market. Anyone (no questions asked) can select fresh produce of their choosing from the open-air bins. The quality groceries come from regional farms and a variety of other sources.

The traveling produce truck, on the road due to the generosity of a Sutter Health Community Benefit investment, is an important addition to SFBFS’ 224 partner agencies that help to expand food distribution throughout the county.

“When one in four children in Sacramento County lives in poverty, and nearly half of our seniors don’t have enough income to meet the most basic of expenses, our services are more important than ever before,” says Blake Young, President/CEO. “Our new Produce for All truck will increase our capacity to serve more residents where they live.”

Transportation to one, centralized food bank in the county is often an overwhelming obstacle for food insecure families. Those who must rely on public transportation, seniors, families, the working poor, the unemployed and the disabled, can find navigating the system challenging. When fresh produce can come to them, a healthier lifestyle is more likely. SFBFS’ Produce for All truck, transporting food from local growers and donors to as many as 300 families at any given stop, is also a neighborhood-by-neighborhood link to additional services such as CalFresh, employment, housing and healthcare.

“No one - regardless of income level, age, gender, race/ethnicity, marital status or community of residence - is invulnerable to the possibility of experiencing food insecurity sometime in their lives,” says Young. And when that happens, by providing healthy food, we may be able to offer other assistance related to the root cause of poverty.”

SFBFS’ Produce for All truck offers a robust calendar of regularly scheduled stops.  To view a calendar listing of current Produce for All food distributions, visit: www.sacramentofoodbank.org/produce-for-all/.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) offers compassionate support and a compass for families navigating difficult times. With 15 diverse programs and services, a staff of 83 employees, several thousand volunteers and the financial support of the community, SFBFS guides families on their journey through support and education. Since 2014, SFBFS has served as the main food bank of Sacramento County.

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Virtual Public School Gives Back at Sacramento Food Bank

Story and Photos by Margaret Snider  |  2017-01-27

Volunteers from California Connections Academy @ Ripon sort food in their service project at the Sacramento Food Bank.

California Connections Academy @ Ripon is a tuition free, virtual public school serving students in an eight county region including Sacramento County. While students are widely dispersed and complete course work online, they do get together regularly for field trips.

Amber Manko, School Counselor from Modesto said that she and other counselors and advisory teachers decided a good way to get students engaged in community service would be to schedule a service project. After researching, they agreed that the Sacramento Food Bank sounded like a good choice. “I’ve been pretty impressed with the organization and how it’s run,” Manko said. “I’m really just excited to be able to offer the opportunity for kids.”

At the food bank Maria Zefo, food resource manager, showed the group around the facility on Bell Avenue in Sacramento. The food bank took over the building from Senior Gleaners around two years ago. “At that time, we were feeding about 50,000 people,” Zefo said. “Now we’re at 135,000.”  Zefo took the group through several of the warehouses (there are five) to the one where the group would work. She filled them in on Sacramento Food Bank facts along the way.

The organization serves Sacramento County via 220 other agencies who come to them for food and resources:  churches, soup kitchens, food pantries, senior programs and more. The food bank itself does not dispense food from their facility, but they do send their trucks out to nearly 20 sites to dispense food. “We just completed hunger assessment for this county, what areas are not being served, where there is need and no agency, where we can go and pull up a truck and hand you some food,” Zefo said.

The Sacramento Food Bank serves over 135,000 people a month via family services programs and food distribution. In 2015 donors provided 16,342,858 pounds of food and 175,124 clothing items. Nearly 8,000 volunteers gave close to 90,000 hours of service. Only 7 cents on the dollar goes to operating costs, so 93% of the food bank budget goes directly to programs. The national average, per Zefo, is only 80% directly going to programs.

The California Connections Academy group’s job was to sort food, and they attacked the huge bins with gusto during their three hours of service. School Site Administrator Amy Hunt, along with her 10-year-old son Brady, worked alongside the others. “Brady and I got to the bottom of our barrel, and we moved on to another one,” Hunt said. “I think we were the slowest of everyone there. When we got to the bottom, everyone else had moved on to another one.”

Those volunteers who turned up for the event were happy they were able to help. “We’re already going to start looking for an opportunity in the Bay Area, another area that our families hopefully can attend,” Hunt said.

Though Manko was disappointed in the number of those turning out for this event, she hopes for a better response in the future. “I work with high school students and often they want to know how they can get involved in their community,” Manko said. “So it would be nice if our school can build on this and offer more opportunities throughout the year... It’s important.”

California Connections Academy @ Ripon opened in 2012 and is part of the Connections Education Academy, which was founded in 2001.  In the 2015-2016 school year, Connections education supported 30 virtual public schools in 26 states, serving more than 65,000 students.

For more information on California Connections Academy @ Ripon, call (209) 253-1208 or see www.connectionsacademy.com/california-online-school/about/ripon.

For more information on the Sacramento Food Bank, call (916) 456-1980 or see www.sacramentofoodbank.org.

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CDPH Offers Food Safety Tips for the Holidays

Source: California Department of Public Health  |  2016-12-01

With the holiday season approaching, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reminds consumers to use safe food preparation and storage measures to prevent foodborne illness. Bacteria that can be found in foods such as meat and poultry may cause illness if they are insufficiently cooked, inadequately cooled or improperly handled.

“We can help ensure that foodborne illnesses don’t ruin our holidays by properly preparing and handling meat, poultry and other foods,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.

About 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year are related to foodborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Foodborne diseases can be prevented by: washing hands with soap and warm water before and after food preparation, and especially after handling raw foods; cleaning all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and rinsing them with hot water after each use; cooking food thoroughly and refrigerating adequately between meals.

Symptoms of foodborne disease can include diarrhea, which may be bloody, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever. Most infected people recover from foodborne illnesses within a week. Some, however, may develop complications that require hospitalization. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for potentially life-threatening complications.

Additional information about food safety is available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Consumers can also access the national Partnership for Food Safety Education’s Fight BAC! Website www.cdph.ca.gov

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