About 28,000 people participated in the 19th annual “Run to Feed the Hungry” for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. Elite runners, average joggers and walkers participated in the 5K and 10K events. Last year, 26,825 people participated on the event’s first rainy day. This year, over 28,000 participants ran on a beautiful Thanksgiving Day. The event raises funds to support six Food Bank programs.
What has 56,000 legs, over 28,000 smiles and is the biggest “happening” in Sacramento every year?
If you guessed the 19th annual “Run to Feed the Hungry” for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, you guessed correctly.
For nearly two decades, members of the Sacramento community – and their friends and families from around the nation – have gathered to give back. Whether they are elite runners, average joggers or simple walkers, this event is one of the most respected 5K/10K events in the nation.
Held every year on Thanksgiving Day, participants agree: it’s a great way to give back to the community…and burn a few calories before indulging in a piece of pumpkin pie. Last year, 26,825 people participated on the event’s first rainy day. This year, more than 28,000 participants are expected.
“Run to Feed the Hungry is a Sacramento tradition for thousands of local families,” said Kelly Siefkin, communications director for the food bank. “The event offers a 5K and 10K course through the beautiful East Sacramento neighborhood. The Run is owned and operated by Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and raises funds to support six programs.”
Need knows no season…and seems to know every neighborhood. SFBFS serves families in need throughout Sacramento County, including local neighborhoods including Land Park, Arden and Carmichael. Some 20,000 unduplicated men, women and children receive free goods and education through SFBFS programs each month. The food program serves 16,000 unduplicated individuals each month.
The run raised $850,000 for the food bank last year – approximately 20 percent of the organization’s annual budget. Founded by Father Daniel Madigan in the basement of his Oak Park church in 1976, SFBFS runs a very lean, grassroots organization with an incredibly efficient, professional staff of 40 and a volunteer workforce of over 5,000 annually.
The Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) fun begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at approximately 11 a.m. Participants will meet at Sacramento State’s J Street entrance for the start of the run/walk. New exit points from Sac State will improve traffic flow post-race.
Siefkin is excited about a new participant category this year: Virtual Runner.
“Is your spouse dragging you to Iowa for a snow laden Thanksgiving? Do you have 49 relatives descending on your living room around 11 a.m.? Are you more of a napper than a jogger? Then sign up as a virtual participant,” Siefkin said. “Your registration fee supports programs at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and you’ll still receive your shirt after the event, but you don’t have to run or walk on Thanksgiving morning.”
There is still time to sign up to participate, volunteer or join a team. There is also some new run attire available this year.
“Those who sign up to participate and who make an additional $50 contribution will receive a Run to Feed the Hungry knit beanie this year,” Siefkin said. “Participants are very excited about it – apparently, it’s becoming a hot collectible for those who participate every year.”
Registration for the Run to Feed the Hungry is available online until Nov. 20 at www.runtofeedthehungry.com. Participants can also register via mail until Nov. 10 or at REI from Nov. 17–21. For more information about SFBFS, www.sacramentofoodbank.org.
‘Tis the season for turkey, carolers, gingerbread men, friends and family – and giving back.
“For a lot of people part of their holiday tradition is the giving back and the instilling the spirit of service in their children and we love it,” says Nicole Elton, marketing and communications officer for Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada. “It’s such a wonderful jump-off point – we’ve had so many volunteers who have come back to us year after year.”
“It’s the most popular time of year when people want to volunteer,” adds Frank Kennedy, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Sacramento. “It’s the holiday season and people want to help people less fortunate than them.”
Whether you want to give of your time or money, there are lots of ways you can help out those in need this holiday season right here in your own community. Here’s a look at just a few!
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services
You can start giving through the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS) Turkey Drive, to be held Friday, November 16, at 3333 Third Avenue (corner of 3rd Avenue and 33rd Street in Oak Park). According to Communications Director Kelly Siefkin, donations of fresh and frozen turkeys will be accepted from 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., which are then distributed to those in need the following Monday.
“It’s so great – we have moms driving vans full of kids and after soccer practice they all go in and buy some turkeys, bring them down, and all the kids unload and drop off the turkeys,” Siefkin says. “That may be the easiest way a family can start their holiday giving.”
Then on Thanksgiving Day, families can get involved in the annual Run to Feed the Hungry. “That’s a really good community thing to do with your entire family – it’s truly become a holiday tradition for so many area families,” Siefkin says. Both participants and volunteers are needed for the race, however, Siefkin says the minimum age to volunteer at the Race is 18, and the minimum age to volunteer on Nov. 8 and 9 for race preparation is 16. Editor’s note: For more information on the Run to Feed the Hungry, see page 16.
And on the Teen Service Day on December 10, teens ages 12-17 can help sort and organize clothing donations for SFBFS’ Clothing Program. Siefkin says this is a great way for teens to spend time together, but also serve the community. “They really enjoy spending that time here and making an impact in our community,” she adds. Siefkin says volunteers ages 12-15 need to have a parent on-site during the event, and volunteers ages 16-17 can volunteer on their own with a parent’s signature.
For more information:
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services
Oak Park – Main Campus
3333 Third Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada
Part of Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada’s giving opportunities includes a number of drives community members can donate to. For example, from now until Nov. 18 they will hold a Turkey and Turkey Dinner Food Drive for the clients living in their programs, says Elton. That includes donations of fresh or frozen turkeys and ingredients needed for a holiday meal, such as stuffing and mashed potatoes.
Following, VOA will be holding both a Hats, Gloves, and Scarves Drive to provide warm clothing for those living in its shelters, as well as a Stocking Drive. “We’re asking people to purchase a stocking and stuff it full of a variety of things that would make life a lot easier and more pleasant for the men, women, children, and youth in our program, things like pens and pencils, lip balm, flashlights, batteries, and a gift card so people who have specific needs can go and get those needs fulfilled,” Elton explains.
VOA is also looking for families or groups to come and throw a holiday party for its various shelters. “It’s the time of year when people are used to going and doing the family holiday parties, so this is a fun opportunity where a family can plan and host an entire party,” Elton says. “We’d love for a family or group of families to come together, work with our volunteer coordinator, and plan just a fun holiday event.”
In addition to giving, there’s volunteer opportunities as well. Elton says in December VOA will hold Wrap-Up Parties where families can come and help wrap gifts and stuff stockings for the children, adults and youth living in their shelters.
For more information:
Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada
Point West Plaza
1900 Point West Way, Suite 270
Sacramento, CA 95815
Volunteer Center of Sacramento
The Volunteer Center of Sacramento (VCS) offers monthly Family & Teen Volunteering opportunities for kids ages 0-17. Kennedy says VCS developed this series after realizing it was difficult for youth to become involved in the community, since there can be liability issues or training involved. The monthly events are normally held on a Saturday for about three to four hours. “It’s basically a great way for people and families to show up and volunteer – there’s not a lot of prep work, not a lot of training that needs to go on,” he explains. “It allows everybody an opportunity to get involved in the community.”
On Saturday, Nov. 17, families and teens can volunteer at Harvest Sacramento, which Kennedy says is a program of Soil Born Farms that goes into parts of the community that have unharvested fruit trees or vegetable gardens. Once the food is harvested, it’s then distributed to families in need.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, the Family & Teen Volunteer opportunity will focus on VCS’ annual Adopt-A-Family program, which provides food and gifts for local, low-income families during the holiday season. On this day, Kennedy says volunteers will work on organizing and decorating the gift distribution center.
Kennedy says they are also looking for those that would like to adopt a family in need this year. “This year our goal is to get 500 families and 75 foster youth adopted, so we have a big chore ahead of us,” he says. Community members can visit www.adoptafamilysac.org for more information on the program and to select a family to adopt.
And for youth and families that want to volunteer all year round, they can search for volunteer opportunities just for youth 18 and under on VCS’ website, www.volunteersac.org. Additionally, Kennedy says on the site families can download the Youth Volunteer Directory, which lists nonprofits that accept youth, as well as a “how to” volunteer guide for parents and teachers.
For more information:
Volunteer Center of Sacramento
1300 Ethan Way, Ste. 600
Sacramento, CA 95825
Socks for Seniors
Socks for Seniors is an annual community service project where new socks are collected to be distributed to elderly in local area nursing homes around the holidays.
The program began Oct. 27 and runs thru Christmas. Community members can help by hosting a Sock Drive. Additionally, local area coordinators near Sacramento are needed to help with collecting socks this year.
For more information and to register, visit www.socksforseniors.com/register.html.
Simon and Garfunkel once said, “It’s all happening at the zoo.”
That certainly seems to be the case at the Sacramento Zoo, which this year is celebrating its 85th anniversary with many new attractions.
The zoo’s main focus right now is on its capitol improvement project called Small Wonders, for which the zoo is currently working on construction plans and permits, according to director Mary Healy.
Healy says the new exhibit will be located across from the zoo’s giraffe exhibit, aptly named Tall Wonders, and will feature four new species of animals – a pair of African monkeys called Wolf’s Guenon, an African bat called a Straw-Colored Fruit Bat, an aardvark and a mongoose.
The zoo has already acquired the Wolf’s Guenon and will acquire the other animals as the project moves forward, Healy said.
Healy said the Small Wonders exhibit will help complete an area of the zoo where consistent improvements have been made to make the animals much more visible to guests.
She also said bringing in new species of animals provides new educational opportunities.
“We’ve never had any bats on exhibit,” Healy said. “We used to have one in the education department, but we’ve never had any on exhibit, and that’s going to be a fun opportunity. Kids like bats, they’re not intimidated by them. Some adults tend to still think they’re kind of creepy, so it’s kind of fun to bring in something like that that the kids are into.”
Although there is currently no opening date set yet for Small Wonders, Healy hopes the zoo will be able to give a timetable update to guests at the upcoming Wild Affair fund raising event on Oct. 6.
According to marketing coordinator Marisa Hicks, Wild Affair is the zoo’s annual black tie gala dinner and auction.
“It’s our grandest event focused on adults and just raising as much money as possible for the zoo, and this year that money is going toward Small Wonders,” she said.
During this year’s event, attendees will start the evening with appetizers and cocktails, plus the chance to take special behind-the-scenes tours of zoo exhibits.
“That includes behind-the-scenes in the primate area (and) the carnivore area, the lions and tigers,” Hicks said.
Wild Affair attendees will enjoy a plated dinner by Mulvaney’s B&L, a live auction hosted by Dave Bender from CBS13 and a show put on by zoo staff.
“The show is put on by the very same staff that has done tours, so somebody who was just showing you behind-the-scenes in the primate area may now be on stage in costume,” Hicks said. “There is no end to what our passionate zoo staff will do to raise money for our exhibits here.”
For the community
In addition to Wild Affair, the zoo has a number of events coming up to help benefit its surrounding community.
For example, now until the end of August, zoo guests can bring in a new, unwrapped school supply for a school supply drive and receive $1 off general admission.
Hicks said the supplies will be donated to a school in need in the local community. In November and December, patrons can bring in a donation for either Toys for Tots or the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and again receive $1 off general admission.
In October, the zoo’s popular Boo at the Zoo will return for two days, Oct. 30 and 31. Here kids can come in costume, visit 17 different candy stations and take rides on the “spooky” train and “creepy” carousel.
“Generally what people do on Halloween is they come to Boo at the Zoo and then they go out into Land Park and do the rest of their trick-or-treating, so it’s a real fun night,” Hicks said.
Additionally, the zoo has been hosting a number of nonprofits through different programming. For example, each night of the zoo’s summer Twilight Thursdays series gave a different nonprofit an opportunity to share its information with patrons.
Healy feels it’s important for the zoo to help out their fellow community nonprofits.
“We’re in kind of a unique position since we do get a half-million visitors to our zoo and we feel that we are in a position, kind of like the big brother, to help out some of the other organizations,” she said. “We just try to be a good partner and feel like we’re all in this together and a lot of the nonprofits are struggling.”
The next 85
As the Sacramento Zoo celebrates its 85th birthday, what’s in store for the next 85 years?
Healy says part of it will be focusing on offering more intimate experiences for zoo patrons.
“We know we’re limited with the 14 acre site (and) we want to make sure when people come here, they can see the animals up close and have interactions,” she said.
The zoo has already been moving in that direction with the all-glass river otter exhibit that allows kids to come “nose-to-nose” with the animals, the Tall Wonders giraffe exhibit that features supervised feedings twice a day and a window in the tiger exhibit where guests can sit next to the tigers.
“We just want to keep creating those kinds of special, up close experiences that make our zoo unique,” Healy said.
And Hicks says the zoo will continue to work on its main mission, which is to educate the next generation on conservation.
“They’re not going to conserve what they have today without being educated on what there is,” she said. “All of our programs (are) aimed toward engaging our audience and getting them to pay attention to conservation and observing that education so they carry it with them. And hopefully we’re creating that connection with wildlife that a lot of urban city kids don’t have.”
The “Meals for Health” educational program involved lectures from national leaders in the “plant-strong” and “whole foods” areas of nutrition and exercise, physician supervision and boxes of healthy foods. It was an inaugural program at the food bank that organizers hope to learn from…and to hopefully “roll out” nationwide.
According to EarthSave, which provided the curriculum for the program, “hunger and obesity are often flip sides of the same malnutrition coin. Both hunger and obesity can be symptoms of poverty. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, bowel diseases, arthritis and a host of other degenerative conditions are rampant in communities experiencing food insecurity. Being poor and having serious health problems create nearly insurmountable obstacles to success.”
EarthSave is a nonprofit non-profit organization dedicated to helping people “make food choices that promote health, reduce health care costs and provide greater health independence.”
Participants learned from national nutrition leaders and speakers on topics such as “The Starch Solution,” “The Amazing Digestive System,” “The Pleasure Trap,” “How to Eat Whole – and Why Should I?” and “Healthy Living Made Easy.”
The results from the four week program were astonishing.
Not only did every single participant graduate from the program (organizers had anticipated up to a 30 percent dropout rate) – they thrived. On average, each of the 21 participants:
- Dropped 30 points in total cholesterol
- Dropped 21 points in LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Dropped 7 points in fasting blood sugar
- Lost 17 pounds
- Dropped 10.4/10.3 points in blood pressure
Dr. Donald Forrester, supervising physician, noted that all participants had improved skin tone, a reduced (or eliminated) need for medication, a better sense of balance and an overall better sense of well-being. Several participants, who started the program on canes, graduated on their own two feet – no walking aids necessary. One diabetic observer, who followed the guidelines for the program along with the participants, dropped 100 points in fasting blood sugar – without medication.
“No one had any complaints about the program,” Forrester said.
The Sacramento Whole Foods Market located at the corner of Arden Way and Eastern Avenue donated over $5,000 worth of whole food products that participants learned how to prepare and enjoy.
“Whole Foods Market is an active participant in the local community,” said Christina Clarke, marketing team leader for Whole Foods. “Our core values at Whole Foods Market include caring about our communities and promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education. The Meals for Health Program is a great way for (us) to support community members and show our commitment to promoting healthy eating education.”
“Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is thrilled to partner with Earth Save on the wonderfully successful and impactful Meals for Health program,” said Kelly Siefkin, communications director for the facility. “The results participants earned through modifications in their diet are tremendous. We hope to teach many individuals who access programs at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet and the simple steps they can take to positively impact the health of their family.”
Leaders at EarthSave concur.
“I want to thank you for all sticking with it,” John Robbins, founder of EarthSave, told the graduates. “It’s your example that will speak to people. You are now on a pathway to health and increased opportunities. Once your eyes are opened to something – you ‘can’t not see it.’ Eating healthfully is one of the most compassionate things you can do for yourself.”
For more information and videos about the Meals for Health program in Sacramento, visit EarthSave’s website at www.EarthSave.org.
SACRAMENTO, CA – Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) embarks on a new partnership with the EarthSave International, a non-profit organization that will launch an exciting new program called Meals For Health (MFH) on April 8, 2011. MFH is a 30-day intervention that provides low-income families with education and support to eat a healthy, low-fat, plant-strong diet in order to dramatically improve their health. There is no cost to participants and all support, food (donated by Whole Foods) and materials will be provided. MFH participants are individuals who currently receive services from one of SFBFS’ programs such as Adult Education, Mother-Baby or Women’s Wisdom Art. Health improvements, weight loss and disease reversal of MFH participants will be measured and tracked under medical supervision of physicians throughout the 30-day program. Local food coaches and dozens of volunteers will assist participants in completing their journey. Food coaches provide regular support, ongoing education, potlucks and video presentations. MFH is a health program which has been shown to reverse high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Experts on the MFH team have run similar programs and seen results in tens of thousands of participants. However, this pilot program is the first of its kind in a low-income population. The groundbreaking intervention takes a selected group of very low-income clients from SFBFS who suffer from serious health problems and turns them into plant-strong eaters. Participants learn about healthy nutrition, easy food preparation, exercise options and low cost shopping strategies in order to successfully transition their families to a healthy, unprocessed, whole food plant-strong eating style. MFH will plant seeds and spread sensible nutrition to interested families and individuals across the Sacramento community and has the potential to significantly decrease health problems while increasing energy and self esteem, across this challenged population.
The participant roster for this MFH pilot program is complete, but we invite you to SFBFS and see what new and innovative steps are being taken in our community to improve the health and wellness of those in great need. Dramatic results in blood pressure, weight and medication intake is expected by the end of April. EarthSave plans to grow MFH in the Sacramento community with subsequent waves of increasing size, as members of this early intervention groups may go on to become plant-strong leaders and coaches.
For more information about EarthSave International, please visit www.earthsave.org. For more information about Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, please visit www.sacramentofoodbank.org.
Millions of dollars worth of fruit are hidden in plain sight in Sacramento trees. And by 2008, East Sacramento resident Mary McGrath grew tired of seeing the free food go to waste. As a girl growing up in Omaha, the bright orange color and sweet taste of an orange was a treat. Jolted into action by this childhood memory, McGrath and her husband, Robin Aurelius, took action.
“We really felt disgusted to see oranges in the gutters waiting for garbage pick up each week,” she said. “Both of us thought it was terrible to waste good fruit, especially when people in our town were going hungry.”
The couple identified fruit tree owners in their neighborhood and those wanting to donate their fruit. They recruited friends and neighbors to pick fruit on two weekends. Harvested fruit was donated to the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.
In 2009, the idea expanded and became a food access program of Soil Born Farms. It was dubbed Harvest Sacramento under the leadership of Soil Born Farm’s Food Access Coordinator Randy Stannard. The program is seeking volunteers for the upcoming harvest season to serve as harvest coordinators, harvest leaders and harvesters. Two events are scheduled for anyone interested in learning more.
On Friday Dec. 3 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., there will be a fundraiser and information session for Harvest Sacramento at the Sierra 2 Center.
A training session for volunteers will be held on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the Stockton Boulevard Partnership Building, located at 5625 Stockton Blvd. in Sacramento.
Groups and individuals of all ages are encouraged to participate. High school students can use their participation for their volunteer service requirement. Training, outreach materials, harvest supplies and volunteer recruitment tools are supplied. No special harvesting skills are required.
Sacramento is essentially a food forest, sitting amid one of the largest urban citrus groves in the United States. Harvest Sacramento capitalizes
on The City of Trees’ bounty by sharing the wealth.
“Hungry people get good fresh fruit, people involved in the harvest make new friends and picking the trees helps create good conditions for the trees for an even better harvest next year,” McGrath said.
Harvest Sacramento’s close ties with the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and the River City Food Bank, turns the concept of “people helping people” into a working reality. For Oak Park resident Matt Jurach, Harvest Sacramento is summed up in three words.
“Neighbors feeding community,” he said.
Jurach, who shares his backyard with a giant grapefruit tree, calls himself a sucker for efficiency. Having been a volunteer with Harvest Sacramento since 2009, he sees an easy fix for a homeowner confronting a loaded fruit tree.
The hard work of planting and caring for the tree has been done. All that’s left to do is find trees with owners who want the fruit picked.
“The nice thing about urban gleaning is that it’s so easy,” he said.
Harvest Sacramento provides a way for busy homeowners to get rid of their excess fruit. Volunteers meet others in their neighborhood while diverting nutritious valuables from the landfill to families who can use them.
Harvest Sacramento is funded by California Endowment’s Building Healthy Community initiative, the Rudolf Steiner Foundation and the Sierra Health Foundation with support from Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture & Education Project.
Go to www.harvestsacramento.org for more information. Those interested in volunteering can contact Randy Stannard at (530) 204-8082 or firstname.lastname@example.org If you plan on attending the training, an RSVP is appreciated.