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

December 20, 2012

Loaves of Love

Whoever said little kids can’t make a big difference? With the help of mother and pre-kindergarten teacher, Christy Taylor, the children of Educare Learning Center rounded up a fantastic contribution of 32 loaves of bread and an assortment of clothing for their annual “Loaves of Love” bread drive to donate to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

For the past five years, Educare Learning Center, an early childhood education center in Sacramento catering to children ages three to five, has been teaching children the importance of sharing through their cleverly dubbed “Loaves of Love” (L.O.L) donation effort which takes place during the holiday season.

“Each teacher explained to children why it’s important to donate and help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. We want the bread drive to provide a real-life example of that,” Taylor said. “So far, we’ve had an excellent turn-out for the program. More than ¾ of students contributed a loaf of bread to the drive. We even had jackets, blankets and shoes to donate this year!”

This year, students collected goods in addition to bread. “We hope that by including other items in the donation drive, it will teach the children to not only appreciate having food but also things like having a warm jacket,” Taylor explained. Yielding favorable results, this year’s inclusion of clothing to the drive provided four bags of jackets, blankets and shoes to donate to SFBFS.

“The children constantly see pictures of poor children from other countries, but they don’t know that people are starving in their own backyard,” Taylor remarked. “The drive helps them realize there are people here in need also.”

To keep the spirit of giving fresh in the children’s minds past the holiday season, Educare Learning Center also organizes a clothing drive every March which collects shoes, pants, shorts and t-shirts. By organizing donation efforts throughout the school year, the staff of Educare works continually to inspire compassion in the next generation of youth.

The donated from Educare students found  its way into the hands of families in need within a few hours of being dropped off.
 If you are interested in leading a donation drive, please visit for more information.

Submitted by Matt Pruitt, AmeriCorps VISTA

December 13, 2012

One Click Per Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Typically it’s an apple that keeps the doctor away, but for the month of December, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) is extending that saying to include all fruits and vegetables. And, more importantly, how to prepare them.

Aprons in Action, The Home Depot Foundation’s monthly Facebook voting program, recently nominated SFBFS for December's competition. Only one of four selected charities, SFBFS has the opportunity to win a $25,000 gift card to Home Depot to finish the outdoor kitchen in the Demonstration Garden.

SFBFS’ Demonstration Garden began growing fresh fruits and vegetables in February 2012 and continues to provide fresh produce year-round. Items grown in the garden supplement weekly food distributions in the community as well as teach children and adults where food comes from. SFBFS built the Demonstration Garden to help families understand that they can take an active role in improving their health. Many families who receive services from SFBFS struggle with severe health concerns including high cholesterol, childhood obesity and diabetes. Each of these issues can be combated with proper nutrition, so SFBFS changed its food distribution model nearly 5 years ago and began offering an abundance of fresh produce instead of processed foods. Clients were overjoyed to receive such a gorgeous selection of fruits and veggies from local farms, but many were unfamiliar with the items and few knew how to prepare them for family meals. This concern spawned the idea of an education-focused gardening and food preparation area. The Demonstration Garden was born.

Just 10 months later, the Demonstration Garden is thriving and classes covering composting, seed saving and what to do with an abundance of zucchini are filled every week. The next step in the Demonstration Garden is to install an outdoor kitchen so families can learn how to prepare the food they grow or the items they receive at a food distribution.

In October, Rebuilding Together Sacramento got the ball rolling by nominating SFBFS for the Rebuilding Dreams project. Because of voters like you, SFBFS won the Rebuilding Dreams project and Rebuilding Together installed a foundation, structure and plumbing for the outdoor kitchen. SFBFS is now in the home stretch stage of construction and would greatly benefit from winning The Home Depot Foundation’s Aprons in Action award.

Vote for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services to finish an outdoor kitchen for the Demonstration Garden! Just follow these easy steps:

• Visit
• Select the VOTE button to the right of Rebuilding Together Sacramento
• Vote once per day now through December 31

It's that easy. No form to fill out and the process will take less than 5 seconds. This contest runs on Facebook through the end of December and any member of Facebook can vote once per day for the charity of their choice. Remember that one click per day will help keep the doctor away by improving the health and providing nutrition education for local families in need.

Please cast your vote to make a difference for families in Sacramento!

It’s the easiest kitchen project you’ll work on all year.

October 29, 2012

Moments of Authentic Beauty

Moments of authentic beauty are difficult to come by these days. Many people can go years without experiencing such touching and captivating moments. Looking back on my summer with Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS), I'm thankful to say that these elusive moments of beauty were not an uncommon occurrence. It’s funny to think that several months ago the prospect of spending my summer working under the Social Services department of the Diocese of Sacramento felt more like a burden than an opportunity. When Beth White, the head of the Social Services department, told me and Joshua that we would be working with a non-profit food bank, I was skeptical at best. The idea of spending a summer in a food pantry sounded like an unproductive and laborious time. Little did I know that my summer would turn out to be one of the most amazing, inspiring, exhausting and rewarding summers to date.
One of the many memories I will never forget occurred in SFBFS’ Adult Education program where I spent a good amount of time helping students prepare for their GED exam. I had spent a good part of the morning helping a client with her math assignment. Despite her best efforts, I could tell that she was starting to become frustrated with word problems, resulting in my own impatience and frustration. At one point she politely excused herself for an important phone call, which allowed us to take a short break from the intimidating word problems concerning John and his team’s win to loss ratio. As she left the room, I decided to look over her file and assessment test. I checked the section where it asks the client to write a paragraph about why they want to enter the Adult Education program at SFBFS. As I read her paragraph, my heart sank and I let out a huge smile. She wrote about how she wanted to get her GED in order to go to college and to one day own her own business. All this so that she can provide a better life for her and her son. As I finished reading her file, she came back into the room and we immediately began work again, this time with more patience and a bit more determination on my part. Little did I know that the son she worked tirelessly to provide a future for was the same young boy that I helped earlier in the week with a computer project for SFBFS’ Youth Education program.

In one day, I witnessed the entire mission of SFBFS culminate into a single experience. A mission “dedicated to assisting those in need by alleviating their immediate pain and problems and moving them toward self-sufficiency and financial independence.” I could spend pages and pages talking about experiences similar to this and still feel like I have more to say about my time with SFBFS. From feeding families at a food distribution site to helping prepare for a baby shower at the SFBFS’ North Sacramento facility, my summer has been nothing but beautiful and fruitful.

Just as I can write pages and pages on my experiences in the different programs, I could write a numerous reflections on the life lessons I learned from the remarkable staff; a staff that puts so much of themselves into the work they do. Time and time again I’ve seen the people at SFBFS work not as a corporate structure, but as a family. Just like with any typical family, not everything goes perfectly. Like any loving family, however, the care, joy and love everyone has for each other and the clients they serve has and will continue to inspire me. As Geno pointed out, “If you wake up loving what you do and knowing you’re helping someone, it makes the day worth it.”

I can honestly admit that at the end of each day I volunteered at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, I could join Geno in saying that each day was truly worth it. 

Submitted by Patrick-Lawrence Bortolome Arguelles, Summer Seminarian Intern from the Diocese of Sacramento

October 19, 2012

The Importance Of Fresh Food For Good Health

Many of us are aware of the fact that we need to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in our diet so that we stay healthy and feel well, but, if we’re totally honest, we probably don’t manage it nearly as often as we should. A lot of the time, relying on processed foods, ready meals or snacks just feels as though it is easier. However, because of this, we are running the risk of making ourselves sick or increasingly unhealthy over time. The benefits of eating fresh produce are many and varied. Here’s the low down on why.

Why are fruit and vegetables so good for us?
A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is one that, in the long term, results in a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and problems with blood pressure and weight. On an everyday level, eating a good range of fresh food helps our digestion become regular, our blood sugars stable and helps prevent us from snacking on highly sugary, fatty foods which are bad for us.

Very often, a diet which relies heavily on processed foods with little in the way of anything fresh in it can make you feel tired and lethargic. Processed foods are designed to be initially filling as they are loaded with fat, salt and sugar, which give an initial burst of energy, followed by a slump. A diet which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables provides us with slow release energy, keeps us filled up and energized for longer and makes us generally feel well and able to cope with what life throws at us.

A kaleidoscope of color

Fresh fruit and vegetables should, ideally make up half of every meal we eat. A good guide to seeing how this works is called the healthy eating plate, which shows how we should organize our meal times every day. Ideally, the fruits and vegetables should be eaten in conjunction with lean protein such as skinless chicken, fish or a small portion of red meat with the fat trimmed, plus some slow release carbohydrates such as brown rice, pasta or a baked potato.

How to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables

Some people wonder how they can possibly incorporate fresh food into their diets, or they simply worry they won’t like the taste. But it really is easy to do and there are many different ways of preparing fruits and vegetables which can make them more palatable and easier to eat!

Remember that tinned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables also count and, in many ways, are just as good as the fresh stuff, but should not be used as a replacement. Things like frozen peas, French beans or bags of mixed vegetables count with a main meal, as would tins of peaches, apricots or cherries that could be baked and incorporated into a side dish.

Fresh fruit juice counts too, a glass of orange or grapefruit juice to accompany breakfast (or any meal) would be a great start to the day. Make sure to check the label and drink beverages that are 100% juice.  As a snack, think about eating grapes or even something like raisins or banana chips. They really do taste like treats, but are so good for us.

Many fruits and vegetables are such attractive colors and we should be aiming to include as wide a variety of these into our diets as possible. Foods like dark, leafy cabbages, rich red tomatoes and green, red and yellow peppers are bursting with vitamins and minerals that are essential to us. These can be stir fried simply with onions and served as a side dish to a main meal.

Fresh fruit can be served simply, as it is, for dessert after a meal which is very often when the craving for something sweet kicks in. A ripe, juicy peach can feel like a real sweet treat.

Fresh food for everyone
Eating a good, balanced diet, rich in fresh food is not just good for adults and older people, but is vitally important for kids who are growing and developing and need all the nutrients possible for optimum health. Children who are of nursery and school age need to eat well to help them fight off common illnesses like colds or stomach flu that everyone can catch from time to time. Eating fresh food will bolster a youngsters immunity to illness and, if they do fall ill, help them recover quickly.

Adults can help cut their risks of developing serious illnesses now and in later life by upping their intakes of fresh foods and it’s never too late to start. For more advice, you can look at the following links to fresh food resources here on good nutrition and eating well

Submitted by Lily Bernard, community contributor

October 16, 2012

Wellness Van Visits SFBFS

On Monday October 1, 2012, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services hosted the Walgreens Wellness Van, sponsored by AARP. As a courtesy to the public, the team sets up a mobile wellness station at SFBFS’ main campus.  Beginning at the information tables, AARP members and volunteers greet each client.  Each person received a packet of senior information (if applicable), then directed to a table to receive a free gift of your choice for participation.

Once  inside the van, your finger is pricked for a blood sample.  From this, they can read your cholesterol level, glucose and sugar levels. They administer a BMI test that measures your body fat, bone density, and muscle. They check your weight and blood pressure, and if necessary, will write you a prescription for medication.

With this information, they can determine your aging process and let you know if your body is aging accordingly or if your body is actually aging faster than it should be – this gives you the opportunity to turn things around.  The turnout was a great success and many benefited from the event.

Submitted by Sharon Beavers, SFBFS volunteer

September 6, 2012

Intern Dinner

Over the summer, six children from the Youth Education program at Saca Community Learning Center interned in Adult Education, Parent Education and Youth Education. They preformed various tasks including phone calls, data entry, filing paperwork, copying, faxing, painting, cleaning and preparing for programs. Each youth intern far exceeded the staff’s expectations by asking for more hours per days to volunteer. Each student completed well over the 36 hours they initially agreed upon.

The interns faced and overcame a variety of challenges, sometimes without any help. As a thank you, staff members asked the interns to identify an ideal gift card to receive for their hard work and dedication they showed over the summer. They immediately responded as a group, “Can we dress up and go to dinner?” This warmed our hearts to learn that even after spending much of the summer together, these children would love to spend more time with us. Via voting, the group decided to enjoy dinner in two different ways: the three boys went with James, Adult Education Program Manager, to eat at Golden Corral, and the three girls went with Heather, Youth Education Program Manager, and Kristina to The Cheesecake Factory.

None of the female interns had ever been to The Cheesecake Factory, so this was a privilege for them. Their eyes lit up as they walked through the doors. One of the girls immediately took out her cell phone and started taking pictures of the decor and desserts while waiting to be seated. After being seated, it took the group a while to order because the large menu filled with unfamiliar choices felt overwhelming to the interns.  Heather urged everyone to share new appetizer of chicken samosas, papas bravas and sweet corn fritters. To their surprise, the dish was very tasty. Their main courses of pasta and hamburgers felt more familiar.

As each plate arrive, a smile spread across each interns face, warming the hearts of the staff. Even with all the excitement, each student thought about their families and made sure to save some food and dessert for them.

This was a night to remember. At times, I take for granted what my own children often have access to. I expected the interns to have the same reaction my kids always do, “It’s just another restaurant,” or “The Cheesecake Factory again,” but to the interns, this experience was very different. Not only did the young girls receive a lesson on napkin etiquette and how expensive dining out can be, but I learned the biggest lesson of all: to never take anything for granted. Just because I see something every day does not mean that others see it the same way. I encourage everyone to stop for a moment and think about what we have and consider sharing that with others.

Submitted by Kristina Rodriguez, Youth Education Program Coordinator