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

March 29, 2012

Two thumb's up for the passport

Hello all!

Things are going well in the Parent Education program. The new Education & Technology Center is great, the boutique looks good, the lobby is spacious and our clients seem to really like it. One of the changes to the program is that we are trying to encourage more father participation. It seems as though we are getting more fathers coming to the classes, which is great.

I have been working on my staff passports and I am almost finished with them. The passport has really helped me to get to know all of the staff better, as well as to better understand what is going on in the other programs.

I think that it is really important for me to encourage our clients to take advantage of all of the resources that Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services provides and the passport experience has made that possible. Sometimes it has been difficult to find the time to participate in programs and complete my passport. However, if not for the passport, I would only be able to tell people about Parent Education.

I have really enjoyed my short time here at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. I cannot say the same about jobs that I have held in the past, but this has honestly been a great experience. Last night I helped out at a food distribution. I thought about blowing it off, due to the rain, but I’m glad that I didn’t. We had a big group of clients, even with the horrific weather, and I guess hunger doesn’t care if it is raining.

I look forward to learning more about Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

Submitted by Aaron Shoup, Parent Education Program Assistance

March 14, 2012

Finding the Connection Between Forklifts and Valentine’s Cards

At Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, we do a little cross training from time to time. Not the kind were you flip over tires and lift sand bags in an effort to become more strong, but were you walk a mile in your co-worker shoes. This cross training takes the form of SFBFS’ staff passport. Quarterly, I have been spending about 30 minutes participating in other SFBFS programs and departments.

From the beginning, I was a little skeptical and a little close-minded about the whole thing. As we went over what we had to do, the doubt became more like anxiety. I was nervous to go into programs that were not my expertise, driving and warehousing at SFBFS. I’m a team player, so I wanted to give it my best shot. First, I had to take a class in Women’s Wisdom Art. Art is not my forte, but Helen, the Women’s Wisdom Art Program Manager, welcomed me with a warm smile. I think she could tell I was nervous. That day we made Valentine’s Day cards. As one of the volunteers showed me the materials, the rest of the ladies in the class talked amongst themselves. Jokingly, one of the ladies asked me if I had someone to give this Valentine’s Day card to. After she broke the ice with that question, we began to talk. The conversation started with SFBFS and ended up talking about life. In the end, I had a great time working with the ladies in Women’s Wisdom Art and I learned a lot about them.

This involvement has taught me a lot about the all programs at SFBFS. I have gained knowledge about the overall company and the people we help daily. My time with the other programs was just as rewarding. Overall, these experiences have taught me to view new opportunities with an unprejudiced outlook.

Submitted by Richard Murdoch, Driver

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

My name is Courtney; I am a twenty-something female VISTA working at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. Fueled by wanderlust, I deserted my native Arizonan home some years ago to travel and work around the world—more recently I returned to the states and relocated to Sacramento. In only a few months I have fallen in love with my new home- the people, beautiful surroundings, and sense of community were an unexpected treat, and I am thrilled to have taken this incredible opportunity.

I learned about Americorps during my service in the Peace Corps (Albania 2008-10), with an understanding that the program is “like a domestic Peace Corps”. It is not! There is an entirely different set of challenges, goals, support network, and lifestyle involved here, which is fantastic because it allows me to learn a new set of skills and gain an even greater variety of beneficial experiences. I chose to apply for Americorps because I have an ingrained sense of community action and activism- I believe we can create a better world for ourselves and it is through the process of making these efforts that we are rewarded.

The project I am working on is with Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, of which I am helping in the creation of the new Demonstration Garden, where families and individuals will learn how to harvest and prepare the vegetables they cultivate. Along with the physical creation of the garden, I am helping to develop gardening and cooking classes that will serve as a resource and teaching tool for the entire community. This will not only help local participants take action to improve their own lives and health, but will further spread healthy habits to their family and friends who witness and become inspired by these changes, like water droplets rippling throughout the community, and even nation. As a passionate advocate of the urban farming movement, I am pleased to be taking an active role in the cultivation of this program, all the while building upon skills that I will apply toward my continuing studies in the field of sustainable agriculture.

My life motto is the pedestrian “be the change you wish to see in the world”. Every action we take has consequences, anywhere from a small impact in someone’s day (like smiling at a stranger) or a global revolution (think Mohamed Bouazizi and the Arab Spring). As humans we are social creatures adapted to help each other survive, and, especially as Americans, we are fortunate to have the resources to seek personal growth for a fulfilling life—and if not, we can think of ways to work together and create them. To me, the verbiage of public and community service is sort of a misnomer of its value; instead of one-side altruism I see it rather as an act of sharing between several people, with advantages and growth for everyone involved.

Submitted by Courtney Jallo, AmeriCorps VISTA

March 9, 2012

Donation Drives Assist Those in Need

As a receptionist and the Donation Drive Coordinator for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS), I’ve had a unique perspective to the hustle and bustle of our organization. For nearly four years, I have been fortunate to see the hard work, dedication and amazing generosity of local businesses and individual donors in Sacramento, as well as the lives which they’ve touched. While encouraging schools, churches, clubs, businesses and other organizations to collect financial and in-kind donations to support any of our seven programs and services, I am answering calls from families with empty cupboards, parents who’ve run out of formula or need school clothing for their children, men and women who need professional attire for interviews and adults who need to improve their education and computer skills to compete in the workforce and make a better life for themselves and their families. Being in the middle of it all, it’s phenomenal to think that we are now in a position to help more people than ever, thanks to our donors.

When staff and volunteers at SFBFS tell donors we wouldn’t be able to serve the thousands of struggling families and individuals that come to us for help during hard times without their support, we are not exaggerating. Donation drives are an important aspect of our organization. In-kind collections help supply our programs with the basic tangible items that are used and distributed to families in need year-round. Financial collections help us to purchase fresh produce for our Food program, keep the lights and heat on, power the computers in our technology lab, keep toilets flushing, purchase text books and even fund new ventures, like our Demonstration Garden.

Many businesses that host donation drives entice public participation by extending special discounts on their goods and services, offering premier deals, or raffling off exclusive prizes in exchange for donations. One such example was in 2010 when Sacramento Harley Davidson offered donors a chance to “crack the safe” and win a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle, an incredible opportunity that brought 1,564 pounds of food, 1,200 articles of clothing and 219 toys to SFBFS’ programs. Year after year, I have been consistently astonished at the often overwhelming kindness of our donors, whose compassion is evident when they go above and beyond their goals to collect more food, gently used clothing, baby diapers and formula, children’s books, financial contributions and more. Case in point was Happy Bodies/Creativity in Motion, a small yoga studio that hoped to collect 300 pounds of food during the 2011 Holiday Spirit of Giving drive, but collected more than five times that much: 1, 620 pounds!

The most rewarding part of my position here at SFBFS is seeing the connection of our donors and the families that we serve. For instance, a man came in one morning, the clothes on his back badly worn. He had been looking for work for a long time and scored an interview for that afternoon, but didn’t have the proper attire. Volunteers and staff in our Clothing program were able to fit him from head to toe with a nice suit, dress shoes, button-up shirt and tie, all of which came in through donations. He looked like a million bucks and returned later that day excited to tell us that he got the job! I’ve also seen the tears in parents’ eyes when they walk out of our facility with a bag full of baby clothes, diapers and formula; and the pride in a woman’s face when she practices the English she learned in one of our ESL class. All of our programs and services are offered for free – no need to scrounge up couch change, put off paying the light bill or delay the rent – which wouldn’t be possible without mounds of donations.

Though many of our donors only hear about our organization through our quarterly e-newsletter or commercials for our major fundraisers, such as the Run to Feed the Hungry (our most important annual event), many have yet to step foot in one of our facilities to see for themselves how their hard work affects our community. I always encourage donors to come down for a tour so they can see firsthand how donations are being put to good use. Donors who come for a tour of either our Oak Park campus or our Saca Community Learning Center in North Sacramento are often astonished at the plethora of services which we offer and are impressed at the high quality of service, respect and integrity with which our volunteers and staff treat our clients. If you haven’t had a chance to come by and see the exciting growth of our services, please join us for a public tour of our Oak Park Campus, including our new, two-story Education & Technology Center on March 23 at 11am, April 3 at 1pm or April 16 at 5pm.

If you would like to host a donation drive to benefit our services, please contact check out the Host a Donation Drive page on our Web site. We’re about to launch a spring donation drive to benefit our Parent Education program, so keep your eyes peeled for our announcement.

Submitted by Tarah Frost, Donation Drive Coordinator

March 8, 2012

Growth of the Food Program

Over the past few years, constructive and proactive decisions were made to discontinue window service in our Oak Park facility and switch to an entirely mobile approach to food distribution. The goal would be for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) to provide families with greater access to fresh produce, engage with clients in a more dignified manner and offer greater services such as cooking demonstrations and health screenings.

From the very start of this transition, I assisted with the first food distribution in our community, while we were still operating the Food program through our Oak Park and Del Paso facilities. Watching the food distributions grow into what the program has now become has been a very exciting, challenging, emotional and rewarding. December 2011 was our final days of food distribution at our Oak Park facility. Some volunteers have served our Food program in Oak Park upwards of 10 years. For many of them it was emotional and hard to see food distribution come to an end at the facility as they touched many lives of people in the community through this program. Not all of the Food program volunteers switched to food distribution in the community. Some volunteers stayed on in Oak Park to continue to volunteer on Mondays and Fridays supporting the Food program by working with groups to bag and prepare all of the food for our distributions, still touching and helping those in the community in a different way.

Starting the new way of distributing food through the Food program was a very long transition. The process took several years and started in a very simple format of bringing just one truck load of food to a parking lot. It has grown it into a farmers’ market style distribution and also supplies families with nutritional information and cooking demonstrations on how to prepare the nutritional food there receiving. Switching our distribution also gave us the opportunity to get the community and partner agencies involved to aide us in our quest to supply our clients with information about their personal health. Partners provide resources and steps individuals can take to improve their lives by offering health screenings, blood pressure, blood glucose test and cholesterol screenings along with information on how to manage diabetes and obesity.

I’m proud and excited to have been here with SFBFS for the last five years and to have worked with all of the wonderful staff and volunteers that have put in impeccable amounts of work and time to help us arrive where we are today with the Food program. I’m excited to see the new growth and changes in the coming years as we strive to face and conquer the new challenges that keep us at the forefront of meeting the never ending changing needs of our clients.

Submitted by Gabriel Hall, Food Administrator

Just Between Friends

Over the past 5 years working at Sacramento Food Bank & Families Services (SFBFS), I have been involved with planning many events. Each event starts with someone’s idea and through a series of phone call, e-mails and face to face conversations, the event is developed. When all the pieces are in place, it comes down to the final, round table discussion of how everything will come together to produce a successful event.

On Tuesday February 28, it was time to for the final planning meeting with Shannon Carter and Jill Mitchell with Just between Friends, a partnership that has helped SFBFS for many years. Shannon and Jill’s Just Between Friends events provide baby clothing to our Parent Education program after their clothing sales throughout the Sacramento area.

In this meeting, the group went over the final check lists. We confirmed that all the communication and marketing materials were in place, such as brochures, bag inserts, donor receipts, cash boxes and Web site links. The team finalized the dates and times for all necessary supplies to be delivered and picked up at each location site. We also went over staffing for the event and determined that volunteers are needed for the success of this event.

The event is primed to be a wonderful success! If you would like to take advantage of the great deals at one of the upcoming Just Between Friends sales events, please visit

Submitted by Steve Knieriem, Operations Manager