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

July 29, 2014

Youth Education Summer Camp Update

Discovery Museum
The youth went to the Discovery Museum to see animals and science projects last week. The discovery museum has animals, space and many other ancient items from the past. The trip was very interesting because we got to see animals live and actual skeletons.

The animal hall has animals, some live and some leaving behind bones known as modern day fossils. The animal hall has bear pelts, live fish, rabbits and frogs. They also have the fossils of dinosaurs, leaves and butterflies. The favorite animal was the lion face rabbit.

Another exciting thing sectioned in the Animal Hall that was a intriguing game called Swim For Your Life. It is similar to the game system the Wii. The major difference is that you use your body as the controller. This by far was the major highlight of the whole field trip because the youth kept doing it over and over again.

The science and space center is based on scientific research and contains numerous science projects. Inside holds moon rocks, Cosmos the Robot and different inventions. Everyone's favorite was looking at the rocks and the special sand. They all wanted to show each other their favorite things making the trip unforgettable.

The trip was amazing because the youth got to see new things and play games. The trip was full of adventure. It was another great memory added to the youth's fun filled summer.

The Sacramento Police Department came to talk to the youth today. The youth and law enforcement officers discussed the importance of not trusting strangers and safety strategies. Stranger Danger is the danger to children present by strangers.

The youth learned to not talk to strangers and to not do anything they say because it could result in putting the youth at risk for danger. In the future they will use these strategies to protect them from harmful people, who are suspected to be dangerous. The highlight was being able to see a policeman and woman who gave great insight on what to do if a problem rises.

In conclusion, the youth were able to learn how to keep themselves safe and learn that they have resources to protect them if they feel harmed.

Submitted by Journey A., Youth Education Intern at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. 

July 22, 2014

Kate's Korner: August 2014

Bugs. There are good ones and there are bad ones – and then there are really bad ones. The Harlequin beetle falls into the latter category as it is a pest in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, we have become familiar enemies in the Demonstration Garden. I first noticed them a couple months ago milling about on the perennial tree collards. They are easily identified by their black shield-shaped bodies with orange and white markings. The young beetles are a rounded shape and the eggs are generally white with black stripes. 

Although they eat anything, they’re particularly fond of plants in the Brassica Family, including cabbage, collards, broccoli, mustard, kale and more. I had a handle on it at first...or so I thought. Every weekday a volunteer or I would spend some time picking them off the plants. At the week’s end I would be impressed by how few adults I could find but come Monday, the beetles would be back in force. I began looking for the eggs in an attempt to eradicate the next generation. I found so many eggs it was scary, there were one to two clumps of eggs (with about 10 eggs per clump) on each leaf. At a certain point I realized it was an inefficient use of time to hand pick for an hour each morning. I then graduated to spraying NEEM on the plants every day hoping to kill off all the beetles. By this time, the tree kale was looking awful since the harlequin beetles had been sucking the juices out of their leaves and stems for a few weeks. The leaves were also covered with uneven white spots where the bugs were munching them.  

After about a week and a half of spraying I could tell my efforts were futile. The last resort was to pull the plants out and hopefully remove the bugs with them. In the few days after this tree kale problem, I noticed some beetles on the hops and lovage nearby. My hopes were that they had fled to these plants but wouldn’t find them to their liking. They found a flower variety they favored, cleome, which I promptly removed.

Unfortunately, I have been starting winter crops the last few weeks and a few beetles found their way into the greenhouse and began enjoying a nice Brassica lunch. I've resorted back to hand picking those because the scale is much easier to manage. In a pleasant twist, the fish in the greenhouse aquaponics system love a harlequin beetle snack!

Fingers crossed I can eradicate them before our winter planting. Stay tuned for future installments of Kate the Gardener vs. The Harlequin Beetle Hordes!

Submitted by Kate Wilkins, AmeriCorps VISTA at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

July 21, 2014

Sacramento Youth Chosen to Attend Worldwide Teen Summit

Two youth leaders from Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS)’ Youth Education program are heading to Boston, Massachusetts on July 28 to join nearly 200 other young people for the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network’s 2014 Teen Summit. Youth from 18 countries including India, Jordan, Israel, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil and the United States will be in Boston from July 29 - August 3 to explore using technology to make positive change and stand up for youth rights in issues such as education, environment, freedom & safety, health and speech & expression.

Youth ambassadors, Maria (age 16) and Beatrice (age 14), were chosen for their outstanding peer leadership and efforts to give back to their community. 

SFBFS’ Intel Computer Clubhouse, a member of the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, based at the Museum of Science in Boston, provides a creative out-of-school learning environment where young people from Sacramento work with adult mentors to explore their own ideas, build confidence, develop life skills and find pathways to success through the use of technology. Clubhouse members also learn to give back to their communities in ways that help build self-esteem, respect for others and commitment to community involvement.

About Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ Intel Computer Clubhouse
SFBFS' Intel Computer Clubhouse is a part of the Youth Education program. The Clubhouse is a year round, drop-in program Monday through Thursday. Staff and volunteer mentors engage youth in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (S.T.E.A.M). Youth, ages 12-18, with an interest in joining their local Clubhouse are encouraged to contact Kelly Ann at (916) 456-1980 or

About the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network

The Computer Clubhouse was founded in 1993 and has expanded to include 100 locations serving 25,000 youth annually from under-served communities in 20 countries. The Intel Computer Clubhouse Network is a project of the Museum of Science in Boston in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab. For more information visit:

Submitted by Kelly Ann Adams, Clubhouse Coordinator at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

July 16, 2014

Growing Gardens, One Yard At a Time

Everyone loves a vegetable garden. A patio full of pots overflowing with sweet cherry tomatoes and bright herbs or a patch of cleared grass crowded with squash and watermelons. A garden can come in every shape and size and it’s wonderful to see the ingenuity and resourcefulness of people who love their vegetables. 

Unfortunately for some, starting a garden is cost, time, or physically prohibitive. This is a sentiment shared commonly at our free gardening classes in the Demonstration Garden at Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services (SFBFS). Many of our dedicated garden clients have a plan for ramping up their vegetable production but are often limited to their patio containers or smaller plans.

Sensing this need for resources in our community, the Food program applied for and received a grant to begin building gardens for some of our clients. This new facet of the program closely aligns with our mission to foster economic independence and self-sufficiency in those we serve. We want people to expand their gardening capabilities and share the abundance of food, excitement, and gardening know-how with their community. To be eligible, a client must attend and complete the Introduction to Gardening Series, which is four consecutive weekly classes about planning and maintaining your garden. Since beginning this program in April, we have had a slow trickle of qualified  applications turned in. We've completed two garden builds so far! The projects were very different but highlight the different resource needs in our communities.

Our first build was for dedicated gardener Minnie, who desired a raised container bed because of physical problems leaving her unable to bend down to the ground. She already had a dazzling assortment of vegetables on her patio but a small lawn with enormous potential was empty. Greg and I, along with two trusty client volunteers (one being the recipient of our next build) constructed a garden bed about 3 ½ feet tall and filled it with soil, compost and a variety of veggies and herbs. It turned out fantastic and Minnie was very happy. She could harvest and care for everything at a comfortable level. I came back later to set up a drip irrigation system and a basic compost bin to make her garden tending duties even easier. Build 1 – a success!

The second build was at the residence of Joseph and Jeannie, who were inspired by some of our gardening classes to embark on a very large project.  By the time they turned in their application, Joseph had already broke ground on an 800 sq ft. garden and planted about a third of it. Our goal was to put the other two-thirds into production: amend the soil with compost, plant with vegetables and flowers, set up irrigation, and build a large compost bin. Joseph, Greg, four volunteers and myself got busy with our tasks and finished before noon! It was a merry affair and the result of our build was at least 500 more square feet of vegetable production. Joseph and Jeannie were very thankful for all the help and resources, just as we are thankful that they've turned their lawn into a huge garden!

With two builds under our belt, we are ready to take on the next challenge. The next property has three parcels and is partially developed for gardening already but we hope to expand it and make it a veritable urban farm! Stay posted!

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

July 11, 2014

Summer Fun in Youth Education

I'm Journey, a 15-year-old Youth Education intern at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) and blogger. I wanted to intern and work with this program because I want to work in the writing field. I heard about this internship through the Youth Education Computer Clubhouse Coordinator and decided to apply for the internship. Writing is important to me because it is how I express myself and a positive outlet on life itself. As for the work, I am prepared to deliver the news of how the summer programs in Youth Education deliver a fun-filled summer to kids.

The Youth Education program's summer activities kicked off on June 30. The day consisted of fun activities, such as icebreakers and coloring animals and fans for the Senior program. All the kids were happy to partake in all the different festivities with big smiles and decorative art work. Lots of enthusiasm filled the room as kids got to know each other and start friendships down a long road of summer activities. The first day has definitely set  the tone for many days to come over this summer.

The Youth Education program features many fun activities for the kids to indulge in over the summer. The program offers a six to eight week summer camp from June 30 to August. The activities will range from art, skills and enrichment tools, as well as field trips for the youth to look forward to. In conclusion, the benefits of the Youth Education program would be newfound friendships, skills and a joyful summer.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Naomi, age 11, a youth who participates in the afternoon's youth program. She spoke on her great opportunity to be in the camp.

How is your first day at the program?
I like how the volunteers are nice and not strict.

After today, does it make you want to come every day?
Yes, because it looks like a nice place to come to.

Were you excited about joining this program?
Yes, because I like going to camps and it sounded like a nice place to go to.

What sets this program apart from the other camps you have been to?
There is a lot of people that participate.

What experiences do you expect to have here?
To make new friends and represent my family in a good way.

NEXT WEEK: The Youth Education program had a visit from an organization called Nature Critters. The visit had the kids fascinated by different animals, particularly a tortoise. The animals had the youth enticed to know more about the animals and their habitats. See my blog next week for more details. 

Submitted by Journey A., Youth Education Intern at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.