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

January 30, 2012

A Farwell to the Past and a Welcome to the Future

SFBFS’ Youth Education (YE) program began the exciting process of packing and getting things ready for the move to SFBFS’ new Education & Technology Center scheduled to open early February. Last month, families joined staff and volunteers for an evening of celebration of the many years of service at the Arata Brothers facility. Close to 100 parents and children came to give thanks and gratitude to SFBFS staff and volunteers for the care, academic assistance, enrichment activities and to show their appreciation for their dedication and commitment to serving their children for many years. Parents and children enjoyed delicious food, a slideshow and funny videos as we remembered the many children that had participated in the program.

Many of our have been part of SFBFS’ family for many years. For instance, Beatriz who is currently a 5th grade student came to Sacrament Food Bank & Family Services when she was only 1 ½ years old after her mother began attending English as a Second Language classes in SFBFS’ Adult Education program. PlayCare staff worked closely to prepare Beatriz for kindergarten. Three years later she enrolled in SFBFS’ Youth Academy program. Beatriz is an outstanding, studious, and caring student who is excelling in school and scored advanced in both Language Arts and Math on her report cards. Beatriz even scored 100 percent in Math and only missed 1 problem in Language Arts on the California State Standards exams. Staff and volunteers are very proud of her accomplishments in school.

Another amazing individual who has benefited from SFBFS’ youth serves is Fernanda, a shy and timid 3rd grader. She initially feared reading, but later was chosen to speak at her 6th grade graduation and was recently interviewed by Univision 19 at our Education & Technology Ribbon Cutting. A third outstanding student is Williams, a very smart and intelligent young man who after graduating from 6th grade, returned to assist as a Reading Mentor to three younger kids who struggled with reading.

I would also like to say to the amazing volunteers that have given their time selfishly, we thank you for your dedication, commitment, care, support and love. SFBFS’ New Education & Technology Center will provide opportunity to expand services to many more youth in the community that need a safe, enriching and high quality care educational setting to go to. SFBFS’ staff will need more volunteer power, so if you enjoy working with youth, please consider joining the volunteer crew and volunteer in the new Youth Education. Please visit SFBFS’ website and attend a volunteer orientation.

Submitted by Aurelia Garcia, Youth Education Program Manager & Counselor

January 27, 2012

Volunteers at SFBFS

Nearly three years ago, I became Volunteer Services Manager here at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). Despite my excitement at this wonderful new opportunity, I felt just a small bit of trepidation. At the time, I worked in SFBFS’ Clothing program and knew that I would miss working directly with my small group of Clothing volunteers on a daily basis. I’d miss our morning talks, catching up on their families’ news and going over the plan for serving our client shoppers that day. However, I now feel like the luckiest staff member at SFBFS, because I get to be in contact with volunteers from all 7 programs at our organization, not just those in the Clothing program.

I get to meet new volunteers when they attend the volunteer orientation. Speaking to a group of 20 to 30 excited faces is a little impersonal, so I look forward to getting to know each and every volunteer as I go over their application and place them into volunteer position. I recently ran into a mother and her two teenage children who started volunteering on Wednesday evenings in the Clothing program. It was great to see the connections they had made so quickly with Tasha, SFBFS’ Clothing Program Manager. The mom thanked me for giving her family the opportunity to serve. I got to thank her for her family’s generous spirit and excitement about serving families here in Sacramento. How cool is that?

I have also been extremely fortunate to form bonds with some of the older volunteers who have been connected to SFBFS for over 20 years. They have been so kind and welcoming to me. I enjoy hearing stories from them about how SFBFS has evolved over the years. I also enjoy benefits such as being gifted lemons from an older volunteer’s productive lemon tree, always being notified of home baked treats available in the Clothing program or receiving Christmas gifts of homemade preserves. Volunteers give more than just their time, they give friendship.

I’m always impressed and humbled by the things that our volunteers do for the community. One volunteer in the Parent Education program recently completed a lactation course on her own time in order to better mentor new parents in breastfeeding techniques. Another is a gourmet chef and takes time away from his own business to cook at SFBFS events for free. Countless others work full time and come straight from work, in full business attire, to bag and distribute groceries at food distributions. To have the privilege of getting to know these amazing individuals, and getting them involved in SFBFS, is something I appreciate every day.

Submitted by Robin Simpson, Volunteer Services Manager

January 26, 2012

Technology Lab

With the ribbon cutting of the new Education & Technology Center now complete, the realization of more opportunities for families as well as individuals was kicked off on January 24 with a slew of phone calls regarding classes. The most amazing part is that SFBFS will no longer have to limit the activities in the lab to restricted days. The new Center offers so much space and allows three classes to take place simultaneously! With new computers and software upgrades, our clients will definitely enjoy their experience in SFBFS’ Technology Lab.

As a new addition to our technology class schedule, SFBFS created three new technology workshops: customizing your personal computer, file management, e-mailing & attachments. We have also added a Lab Instruction session within our classes to help ensure the success of our students. Clients will be able to take a class or use our open lab for job search and/or e-mailing, resume assistance as well as completing online job applications. We will continue our partnership EDD, facilitating their PC Basics & Caljobs Navigation workshops.

We are excited that Tech Skills of Sacramento is partnering with SFBFS to provide us with new interns from their Office Administration program. These students will be working in the Technology Lab helping to assist the clients with day to day activities as a part of their goal to gain more experience in an technology environment assisting them use their skills to be more prepared for future employment. For more information about classes, please visit

Submitted by Shay Smith, Adult Education Technology Instructor

January 25, 2012

How Meng came to SFBFS

Hello, my name is Meng Teurn. My family escaped from Laos in 1975 when communists took over the country. We fled to the refugee camp in Thailand so that the United Nations could protect us and the other refugees.

We stayed in Thailand for some time and learned that the US government was accepting refugees to the United States of America. We applied and we were some of the lucky ones who were accepted.

My family arrived safely to Sacramento. It was very hard for us because we did not speak English. I found Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) offered adult learning center with free classes. There I met my good friend Craig Usher, who was the Adult Education Program Manager. Through him I discovered that Leslie and Father Dan, the who were leading SFBFS at that time, were seeking a janitor.

I told them I was interested in the job. Leslie and Father Dan interviewed me and hired me in 1997 and I have been here ever since. I am very happy to get this job. I enjoy working with all the nice team members and I like my bosses. They are good people.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services helped me make my life better. It gave me an opportunity to meet good people, learn English and get a job so I can support my family.

Thank you to all the volunteers and donors for supporting SFBFS. Thank you to all those who continue to support and those who will support us in the future. I hope we all can work together to make a better future for SFBFS and the community.

Submitted by Meng Teurn, SFBFS Janitor

January 23, 2012

Senior program

The Senior program was started by Blake Young after a Community Needs Assessment was done in April 2009. Because of the shortfall of senior programs due to governmental and social service cuts, a program was developed at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). The Greater Sacramento Chamber of Commerce Leadership 2010 Team helped create SFBFS’s collaboration with Eskaton’s Talking Listening Caring Program (TLC). Together, SFBFS and TLC created what is now SFBFS’ Senior program in June 2011.

Volunteer families or individuals reach out to socially isolated, yet independent, TLC seniors with two monthly meetings (or more) and bring a big box of groceries during one of the visits. Many of the foods are shelf stable but a variety of produce and dairy is included as well. This nutrition helps fill the gap that so many seniors living on Social Security face. With these healthy foods, seniors are more likely to remain independent, happy and healthy without governmental help.

The volunteers bring more than nutrition for the seniors. They bring companionship. This additional friendship forms bonds that can span generations and open minds. Frequently, both seniors and volunteers are overwhelmed with gratitude and each feel they are getting the better end of the deal. SFBFS is excited to see participation in the Senior program grow over time. Click here for more information about SFBFS’ Senior program.

Submitted by Marie-Louise Nelson, Senior Program Manager

January 10, 2012

Parent Education Program Opens January 2012

The Mother-Baby program of Sacramento Food Bank & Family (SFBFS) had been around for almost twenty years and was initially created to service single mothers. A lot has changed since that time. We now know that there are other groups of caregivers that need support as well. For example, we are seeing more and more single fathers and grandparents or other family members as the primary provided for the child.

We also recognize a need for intensified parent education, mentoring and other support services. In 2010 SFBFS partnered with Betty Moore School of Nursing to conduct a series of client focus groups and surveys that stretched over a year. The results reinforced what we had already suspected.

Our first challenge was the name Mother-Baby. First, the name implies that the program is for women with babies only and excludes fathers, grandparents and other caregivers. Secondly, it does not mention classes or the program’s purpose of improving lives through education. Another challenge we faced was the perception the community had about the program. Mother-Baby was viewed as a distribution program that gave out free baby supplies with no consideration of the educational requirement.

After reviewing the results from the surveys and focus groups we knew we had to make some serious changes. In mid-2011, program managers drafted a proposal that included changes that reflected client and data feedback. After several revisions the proposal was approved and planning for a new Parent Education program began.

Effective January 17, 2012, SFBFS will launch its new Parent Education program designed to service families in the Sacramento County. Parent Education offers free, family-related courses on topics such as nurturing parenting, positive discipline techniques, budgeting, health, nutrition, stress management, school readiness and more. Families with children 0 – 5 years old will receive credits after the completion of each course that can be traded in for infant and toddler supplies.

Comparison Chart

Parent Education ____________________ Mother-Baby

* Assists families w/ children 0–5 years _____ * Assists families w/ children 0–24 mos

* Open to all Sacramento county families ___ *
Zip code specific

* Inclusive name _______________________ * Name excludes fathers, grandparents

* Offers family-related courses, 4 – 12 weeks_ * Offers one day workshops

* Baby supplies must be earned ___________ * Baby supplies are given away

* Education focused_____________________ * Distribution focused

* Offers a hand up______________________ * Offers a hand out

Ways to get involved:

- Become a client or refer a family by calling the Parent Education hotline for up-coming orientation dates by calling (916) 313-7622.

- Volunteer your time and talents. Volunteers can assist with the day to day functions of the program, work one on one with clients as a mentor or present a special class on topics such as health, nutrition, arts, stress management, yoga and other specialty skills. To become a volunteer please register of an upcoming volunteer orientation at

- Donate new and gentle used baby supplies at one of our two facilities.

o Oak Park: 3333 3rd Avenue in Oak Park

o North Sacramento: 2469 Rio Linda Blvd in North Sacramento

Monetary donations are also welcome.

If you would like more information new Parent Education program please visit our Web site at or contact us directly by email us at for the Main Campus located in Oak Park or for the Saca Community Learning Center located in North Sacramento.

Written by Mireya Estrella, Parent Education Program Manager