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

June 24, 2014

Kate's Korner - Volunteers: Soldiers of the Soil

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) is well regarded in the Sacramento region (and beyond) for a kaleidoscope of reasons. One of those reasons is our huge volunteer base. In 2013, over 5,800 generous citizens of this city and the greater area spent 67,930 hours assisting staff in SFBFS' six programs. The Food program often has the greatest number of volunteers because of the scale of our food distributions and the huge amount of processing and organization needed on-site. The Demonstration Garden is a small (but large in spirit!) component of the Food program and has a small amount of those volunteers. These gardening enthusiasts, ready to labor in the Sacramento heat with shovel and garden shears poised for action, are my saving grace.

Having a garden volunteer makes the difference between a Kate-outside-all-day-running-around-like-a-maniac day and a Kate-happily-accomplishes-everything-and-can-even-attack-that-looming-administrative-housekeeping-piled-on-her-desk day. On certain mornings when the garden and its miraculous bounty and growth threatens to swallow me and my minuscule harvest basket it feels like Christmas when a volunteer walks through the gate. I briefly go over the pressing matters of the day, direct my trusty sidekick to a battle against pests, rogue weeds, wayward fruit or stunted growth and then gleefully attack the rest of the outdoor duties. Without volunteers, I would be working in the garden almost all day, every day. 

Imagine my excitement to find out that we have a couple great high school graduates from the GreenCorp program (job training for teens) coming to work twice a week in the Demonstration Garden starting the end of June. Woohoo! I may have danced, I may have fist pumped the air...I am excited! I was excited about how much we can accomplish and how much time will be left for new projects and development that will make the Demonstration Garden an even greater resource to the community!

So dearest volunteers, or anyone who has ever volunteered, you are sincerely appreciated. That extra help makes all the difference!  

Submitted by Kate Wilkins, Garden, Health and Nutrition Assistant at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

June 11, 2014

Making Pizza in the Demonstration Garden

In January, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS)’ Demonstration Garden team planted wheat to harvest for summer gardening classes. Six months later the wheat was ready to harvest and be used to make dough. 

Last week, SFBFS’ Garden class attendees were able to learn and join the process of creating their own dough out of wheat. 

The dough was then used to make a fresh pizza using ingredients straight from the SFBFS Demonstration Garden. Check out the photos below of the process!

Harvesting the wheat 

Winnowing the the chaff from the wheat berry

More winnowing

Making dough from the wheat berries that have been ground

Grilling pizzas

Finished Pizza #1! 

Finished Pizza #2! 

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services started teaching workshops in the Demonstration Garden in May 2012. Gardening classes include introduction to gardening, composting, pest management, irrigation, healthy food choices and more. 

If you are interested in attending SFBFS' free gardening classes, click here to see a class calendar for June, July and August. 

Submitted by Lauren Razzano, Communications Officer at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

June 9, 2014

Big Day of Giving 2014

Starting at midnight on May 6, 2014 the Sacramento community came together to support close to 400 non-profit organizations throughout the region, including Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). BIG Day of Giving (BIG DoG), hosted by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation and, was a 24 hour online giving challenge part of a national campaign called GiveLocalAmerica. The objective of this challenge was to not only bring additional funding to the Sacramento region, but also to increase awareness of the non-profit sector and the work these organizations do to make our community a better place. To make the challenge have even more impact, many local businesses and organizations contributed funds to a pool of matching dollars. This means that every dollar donated on May 6 would receive a boost from this pool of funds.

SFBFS was invited to be a participant in the BIG DoG and Communications & Development staff began prepping by attending an orientation, a full day of boot camp sessions and putting together a comprehensive social media and communications plan. As this was a new fundraising initiative for us, we weren’t sure what to expect and were excited to see what it was all about. As the weeks passed by we kept promoting the BIG DoG, posting on Facebook and Twitter, emailing current donors, also excited to see what our neighbor non-profit organizations were doing to promote the event. A buzz surrounding BIG DoG was definitely out in the community and I think we were all eager to see how successful it would be.

Midnight on May 6 arrived and donations started coming in. Facebook and Twitter were filled with posts highlighting #givebigdog. was posting real-time updates so participants and donors could check their fundraising progress. If May 6 marked anything other than BIG oG, it would be hard to tell from the amount of coverage dedicated to the challenge.

During the 24 hour challenge, BIG DoG generated over $3,000,000 for Sacramento area participant non-profits. Over $24,500 of that funding was generated from 190 unique donors who chose SFBFS as their beneficiary organization. Of those 190 donors, 50% were first-time donors to SFBFS. I would say the objective of bringing additional funding and awareness of the non-profit sector to the Sacramento region was a success. I would also say that SFBFS was honored to be a participant in the BIG DoG and is looking forward to another successful BIG DoG in 2015!

Submitted by Melissa Arnold, Development Officer at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services

June 6, 2014

An international experience at SFBFS

Last week I had an amazing international experience right here at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS).

A group of 4 educators from Israel, organized by Northern California World Trade Center, were in Sacramento for a few days during their 3-week professional program, which addresses the topic Promoting Tolerance through Education. The educators work to build bridges between students of various cultural backgrounds in Israel, and are looking at how tolerance is taught in the U.S. through the educational system. Their agenda while in the U.S. included meetings with local schools, education officials and, in efforts to learn about services offered to marginalized communities in the Sacramento area, they came to SFBFS.

The educators, accompanied by two translator guides from the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, had a lot of questions during my tour and excitedly discussed my answers (The translator was always kind enough to give me a brief synopsis of what was said or clarified in Hebrew.) They explained to me that, in Israel, when a societal need is not met by governmental services, “non-government organizations”, or nonprofits, will arise to fill that need, but will also advocate for the creation of government programs that meet this need in the future. Coming from a background in Nonprofit Administration, it was fascinating to learn about how the nonprofit sector works on the other side of the world. It seemed like their favorite part was seeing our quarter-acre demonstration garden where they spent a lot of time admiring the lush summer crops coming in and asking questions about our gardening classes.

With so much discussion and a meeting with a state senator to get to, we ran out of time before I was even able to show them our food program! Luckily I was able to send them all some information via email. I was so happy when I received responses from them saying that they were very impressed and inspired by my tour all of the services offered at SFBFS. It was so amazing to have the opportunity to represent the U.S. to educators from other countries! I've said it before and I'll say it again, I had no idea what I was getting into when I was living in Seattle and accepted a one-year term at a food bank in Sacramento!

Submitted by Kira Graves, Volunteer Services and Communications Assistant at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

June 5, 2014

Seeing a familiar face at a citizenship fair

Very often, as Programs Director, I am approached by outside agencies wanting to partner with SFBFS, very often to gain access to our high volume of clients. I pick and chose these partnerships with great consideration but there are times when I know instantly that the partnership will be successful and a great benefit to our clients. One example of these instantly beneficial partnerships has been with our neighbor in Oak Park, Pacific McGeorge School of Law. 

On an informal basis, one of the immigration attorneys on faculty, Blake Nordhal, had approached the staff at our location in North Sacramento, the Saca Community Learning Center (Saca CLC), and began offering small “Know Your Rights” presentations and then one-on-one quick assessments of their situation. Many of our students became connected with Blake N. and McGeorge and had successful outcomes. One student that comes to mind is Marina, who after attending ESL classes at the Saca CLC for years and having both of her children enrolled in our Youth Education program was able to advance to English classes at the local community college. After getting connected with Blake N. and McGeorge, it was determined that she was eligible to begin the process to be naturalized. As of late 2013, Marina is now a proud US citizen! 

Throughout 2013, SFBFS and McGeorge furthered their partnership at both of SFBFS’ locations by offering Know Your Rights info sessions for both Naturalization and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). After two successful events in fall 2013 with SFBFS, and two others with other partnering agencies, McGeorge had enough applicants ready for the large Citizenship Fair in November 2013. In one day alone they completed 100 applications for DACA and Naturalization, all with the help from law students and dedicated immigration attorneys volunteering their time.

I had the great experience to volunteer my time as an individual on a Saturday in November for this Citizenship Fair. I was assisting some of the law students by translating for the Spanish speaking individuals that were there to complete their applicants. Towards the end of the day, I turned back to the line to get the next individual so I help translate and low and behold it was one of my old clients from the Saca CLC that I had taught English to in 2005 when I was an AmeriCorps member. Maria instantly recognized me and we had a great time catching up at the same time we completed her application. It was such an incredible moment to worked with someone so long ago to improve their English (which was great and I was barely needed for translation), to then years later be sitting with her completing her citizenship application. I saw her a few months ago and she let me know that she was now a citizen and she told me all about the beautiful swearing-in ceremony. 

Submitted by Genevieve Deignan, Programs Director at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.