Follow fun updates as well as interesting stories about clients, volunteers and supporters of SFBFS

December 28, 2011

Rosa Comes to SFBFS

Hello my name is Rosa Flores. I heard about Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) when I moved to Sacramento in 1998. I used the services that SFBFS offered including Food, Clothing, Mother-Baby (now Parent Education) and, most importantly, Adult Education. I visited the Adult Education program several days every week to learn English, while my children participated in the PlayCare program. I loved taking group classes and working one-on-one with the volunteers.

Mrs. Carly, the ESL instructor, told me that there was a position opening at SFBFS and I might make a good fit. The position was to be the new cook. Mrs. Carly knew that I love to cook, so she and Davis, the Adult Education Program Manager at the time, recommended me to the organization to be the new cook. I was interviewed by the President almost ten years ago. That same day I was hired.

The ten years that I have been working at SFBFS have been incredible. I have grown since I’ve been here. I have become a better cook and I have improved my English since I started. I have learned a lot and I can now be flexible and improvise on my cooking, which gets better and better by the day. I have met a lot of great people at SFBFS and am thankful for the opportunity.

Written by Rosa Flores, Cook

December 27, 2011

AmeriCorps VISTAs join SFBFS

Hi, my name is Jessy Wei and I am one of the new VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America, a one year commitment to serve in a community through AmeriCorps) at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). SFBFS staff will see me hanging around the Volunteer Manager office, where I’ve inherited the desk of long time volunteer Tessie Ernst, who just completed her year of service from Xerox. Tessie, Jessy, yes I know. I’ve been called everything from the ‘new Tessie’ to ‘Tessie 2.0.’

One responsibility of my position will be to keep this blog updated with the latest on what’s going on here at SFBFS. So let me just start out by saying that the other VISTA, Courtney Jallo, who will be working on getting the new garden up and running, and I had our first day on the job during the Turkey Distribution.

It’s not an exaggeration to say then that our VISTA year of service started out with a bang! The mile long line winding from Third Avenue to McClatchy Park was just incredible to see. It was a fitting and almost overwhelming introduction to SFBFS and Oak Park. But what really continues to amaze me is the continual enthusiasm, energy and respect that all the SFBFS staff, volunteers and community members have for the people they are serving.

The enthusiasm and passion for the work and community at SFBFS is infectious. While speaking to the members of the Americorps NCCC Green 1 team, who just recently finished their six week service project at SFBFS, the one aspect about SFBFS that they could all agree on was the inviting atmosphere.

“It’s really a family feel here. Everyone knows us all by name,” NCCC team member Tara Benson said.

As a brand new member of the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, these past few weeks have become an invaluable learning experience. I’m heartened and encouraged by

the outpouring of support from the recent holiday events, like the very successful, albeit wet, 18th Annual Run to Feed the Hungry. I also enjoy the groups of volunteers who tour the hallways and donate their time in all nine programs at SFBFS.

What I would like to be able to do through this blog, in the year that I am here, is to help capture some of the big and small moments that happen on a daily basis here at SFBFS. Whether it’s a profile on a staff member, a feature on a volunteer, or a blurb on the amazing happenings within the multiple programs at SFBFS, it is my hope that you will follow along.

Written by Jessy Wei, AmeriCorps VISTA

December 22, 2011

The Heartwarming Countdown to Christmas

The holidays are always a busy time for organizations like ours. Not only are there more individuals and families turning to us for help, but we are also overwhelmed by the generosity of community members who want to lend a hand.

Last week, a group of seniors from Pioneer Towers, a downtown senior housing complex, took a cab ride to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services to donate six boxes of handmade items. These generous women, including a 96 year old woman, have been busy knitting beautiful scarves and hats for the last year. Every day, while carefully crafting, they are reminded of those out in the cold that will benefit from their hard work.

They left after each getting a big hug from Tasha Bryant, Clothing Program Manager. Tasha sees firsthand the number of people who come in to her program without a hat, gloves or scarf and all too often a coat. She knows the clients will feel the love that went into making these gifts.

Many people who don’t have the means to make a financial contribution don’t think they can help those less fortunate. But anyone can make a difference. We have students who get their classmates involved by collecting diapers, business owners who offer discounts when customers bring in canned food, business travelers who save hotel toiletries, youth groups who collect coats, and the list goes on and on.

Our nine programs all have wish lists of items they need. Take a look by visiting our Host a Donation Drive page. How can you make a difference? Don’t have a New Year’s resolution? Maybe now you do.

Written by Shauna Ross, Development Director

December 6, 2011

SFBFS' Urban Farm

You are probably familiar with the work Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) provides to the Sacramento community. You may have heard about their recent Turkey Drive and Turkey Distribution for over 8,000 families and the annual Run to Feed the Hungry. But all of this is just the tip of the carrot. SFBFS will soon be offering gardening and cooking classes at their new Urban Farm where SFBFS’ clients can learn how to grow, prepare and cook the food that they cultivate. SFBFS’ Urban Farm will include a greenhouse, outdoor kitchen, composting and worm vermi-composting bins along with other demonstration areas.

The Urban Farm is just a watermelon’s throw from SFBFS’ new Education and Technology Center and lies adjacent to SFBFS’ edible playground with over 20 fruit and citrus trees and a children’s garden. The Urban Farm came about from the idea that families who receive food are very disconnected with its origin and they often do not know how to prepare and cook the fresh fruits and vegetables currently provided through SFBFS’ Food program. The Urban Farm will teach families how to grow food and how to prepare delicious, inexpensive meals and expose them to an opportunity to improve their health. Items grown in the Urban Farm will also be used to supplement SFBFS’ Food program, a distribution of fresh produce at 12 locations throughout Sacramento each month. This added approach to education at SFBFS aligns with their mission to assist families in need by moving them towards self sufficiency and financial independence.

2012 will continue to be a busy year for SFBFS as many more families turn to and utilize the organization for education and support through their nine free programs. SFBFS’ programs include Food, Clothing, Adult Education, Parent Education, Women’s Wisdom Art, Computer Clubhouse, Youth Academy, PlayCare and Senior. All programs are provided free of charge and are made possible through community support. Over 15,000 men, women and children receive services from SFBFS each month. The new Urban Farm will initially offer a resource and teaching tool for SFBFS’ clients, but will grow with time to serve more families in our community.

Did one of SFBFS’ programs listed above catch your attention? See a way you can make a difference? There are ample ways to get involved with SFBFS. If you are interested in volunteering your time to help with any program, including assisting with the new Urban Farm, please attend an upcoming volunteer orientation. Dates, times and locations for volunteer orientations are listed online.

For more information on the services provided by Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, along with upcoming gardening and cooking classes, please visit

Written by Bill Maynard, Garden Manager

November 23, 2011

A new citizen

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) is proud to announce that Seham, a student in SFBFS’ Adult Education program, took the oath of United States citizenship on November 16, 2011 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. Saham joined over 1,700 other new citizens in a ceremony that lasted over five hours. During the ceremony, the new citizens filled out Social Security forms and were encouraged to register to vote.

Saham, a native of Sudan, came to the United States six years ago after spending seven years in Egypt. In early April 2011, she enrolled in English as a Second Language classes at SFBFS. In August, she announced that she had two weeks to prepare for an English language test in order become a U.S citizen. Seham was tutored intensively by volunteers and she passed the test.

As a result of her hard work, she and her children, who automatically became U.S. citizens when Seham took her oath, now have all the rights and privileges that go with citizenship. Seham was joined at the ceremony by her husband, Mustafa, her son Ahmed and her daughters Amal and Mhath. Dan Allen, SFBFS Adult Education Program Manager, attended the ceremony on behalf of SFBFS. Congrats to Saham!

Written by Dan Allen, Adult Education Program Manager

November 22, 2011

Parent Education Program

Cat (Caty) Gomez was born in Columbia, Tennessee. She is a mother of three wonderful children, a wife and has three cats and a dog that she adores very much. One might say that Cat has her hands full, but she still manages to volunteer ever week at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). Even though Cat is so many miles from her hometown, she has found a second place to call home; at SFBFS where she volunteers her time in the Mother-Baby program. This program offers assistance to parents or guardians of a child between 0-24months, providing them with formula, diapers, baby food, clothing and a one on one visit with a volunteer mentor.

Cat has a lot of background experience working with children and families including experience at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, CA as a pediatric nurse and also at the children’s hospital in the well- baby clinic. Although, she has a heart for medicine she wanted to try something new and different for a while. She decided to get her paralegal certificate and work part-time in medical malpractice. She really enjoyed this experience which allowed for more time with her family. It also gave her the opportunity to enjoy her other interests like watching old movies, walking, hiking and yoga.

Cat is no stranger to volunteer work. She has been volunteering ever since she was a young girl in high school. She first started volunteering her time at the Nursing Mother’s Counsel in the bay area. For Cat, the rewards of giving to others are so much more than anyone could imagine, and this is just one out of several reasons why she continually volunteers her time. She is a woman who believes learning is lifelong challenge. Cat recently completed UCSD’s Certified Lactation Educator Program to help assist moms/families with breastfeeding. Cat volunteers at the Mother-Baby program as a mentor where she gives positive and informational advice to women regarding breastfeeding and offer any support to women who choose to breastfeed.

If you ask Cat why she thinks breastfeeding is so important, she shares, “I am passionate about helping mother’s breastfeed and receiving up-to-date information about the risks of not breastfeeding to help parents nurture healthy children.” She believes if more parents would breastfeed, the positive emotional and physical outcomes for both mom and baby would be incredibly positive for the environment and our society.

Cat is very excited about the Mother-Baby program relocating and expanding into SFBFS’ new Education and Technology Center across the street from SFBFS’ existing site in Oak Park. During this time, the name of the program will also change to Parent Education and is going to be offered at SFBFS’ North Sacramento facility as well. The program curriculum will change slightly to serve children up to age five and require an orientation and parenting classes where clients will receive points to acquire clothing, diapers, baby food, formula and other items. The program’s goal will continue to provide families and their children with the skills and resources to help enhance all the aspects of their lives – health, education, emotional development and safety.

When Cat first became a volunteer at the Sacramento Food Bank/Family Services (SFBFS), she had just returned back to California after twenty years. This experience reconnected her with her local community and she feels it is a gift to volunteer with all the moms and babies that come into the program. She is thankful for meeting such a great group of volunteers and is grateful for this experience and learns something new each time she comes while having the opportunity to help others.

Written by Lorena Carranza, Parent Education Program Manager