Saturday, September 25, 2010

100 Days of Food

100 Days. As of September 23rd there were only 100 days left in 2010. In those 100 days fall the holidays when many of us will enjoy fine feasts with family and friends. But for many people, especially in this economic downturn, there are many days of hunger and not so much feasting.

The River City Food Bank is one of the organizations in the area that tries to help those under dire circumstances. I must admit my ignorance since I had only been familiar with and volunteered at the Sacramento Food Bank. Even though I had heard of some of River City's events, I hadn't been conscious of the difference.

River City Food Bank (RCFB) was founded in 1968. It is open daily to provide food to those below the poverty line - often families. They will provide a family three days worth of nutritional food once a month. When they have the funds they can also help in terms of shelter. They might provide rent assistance or provide a couple of days in a motel. They can also help with preventing the shutting off of utilities. Unfortunately, this all depends on their coffers, which apparently are empty right now. My friend called for the rental/utility help recently and the recording said they had no funds available.

The event I went to on Thursday was the kickoff for the 100 Days of Food, an effort to collect food and funds to fill the coffers for the stressful holidays. The effort’s goal is to reach 100,000 pounds of food. It took place on the top floor of Sutter Hospital’s garage with great views above the treetops of the city. Food was donated by Panda Express and Chipotle.

There were a couple of displays about what the RCFB does, but what caught my eye was a cooking demonstration by Chef James Lyon. He was making a vegetarian chili using ingredients that are found at and handed out from the food bank. The food bank supplies nutritional foods and also provides recipes using the ingredients they hand out. There are nutritional classes offered as well. Certainly it is better than just handing out junk food for the sake of handing out food.

I was introduced to Eileen Thomas, Executive Director, who gave a speech thanking the volunteers and donors. She said that when the economy took a dive, the number of people seeking help from the RCFB increased by fifty percent. Even though the economy is supposedly improving, they are not seeing that number decrease. It is not news that all charities are having a difficult time collecting funds, which only makes the need so much greater. Thomas held up empty shopping bags and challenged everyone to fill up one or more bags. This year they have teamed up with Goodwill so that food can be dropped off at any of the numerous Goodwill donation centers around the area.

I have my empty bag and plan on filling it soon and dropping it down the street at my nearest Goodwill. I hope you will join me in doing the same.
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