I decided to do this weeks article on Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, as when I was growing up my mother would always go there during hard times. Whether it was for clothes, or food, we always had somewhere to go if we were in need. Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services has changed a lot over the years, and only for the better. Recently I took a tour of their new building called the “Education & Technology Center”, that has been around for fourteen to fifteen months. They had a ground breaking ceremony on October 14th, 2010, stating that it was time to build. The ribbon cutting was on January 24th, 2012, and the building was complete.
Kelly Siefkin, the Communications Director gave me a tour of the new Education & Technology Center building. She told me all the great programs they have to offer the community. There are six programs in the new building and all are provided at no cost to families in need. The six programs are Adult Education, Parent Education (formerly Mother-Baby) Youth Education (formerly Computer Clubhouse, Youth Academy and PlayCare). They also provide seniors with volunteer-based visits focused on companionship, friendship and monthly delivery of healthy groceries. And the last two are providing food and clothing. The clothing is great because you can find clothes for interviews and they have lots of shoes to go with the interview outfit. The food program encourages families and individuals to change their lives by providing access to interactive nutrition sessions, basic health screenings, edible gardening lessons and a five day supply of produce.
I really learned a lot during the tour of the new building. When I asked Kelly what made them decide to build a new building she said they did a community needs assessment three years ago to determine what programs they needed. They also had an outdated facility and needed more space. Funding for the building came primarily from a loan through the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, as well as from one-time federal and county grants. They also have people from the community donating to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. I asked her where does the food come from that is donated, she said Capay Organic and Soil Born Farms donates and they also have the community members that donate. When I volunteered at the food bank I noticed there was so much food to bag and sort and I wondered how many people help out because its a pretty good amount of food to go through. Kelly said they get five thousand volunteers a day, whether it’s bagging the food, tutoring kids, hanging clothing, helping seniors, working with children, they always have volunteers. They get the word out there that they need volunteers by posting on volunteer sites, and having four orientations a month.
My favorite part of the tour was seeing the amazing garden the have called the demonstration garden. Right now they have beautiful sunflowers, that is what caught my eye. Another thing was how Kelly told me they teach people how to grow things like tomatoes in crates or a bucket. It was really cool. I loved their garden, and everything they grow is donated. Right next to the garden is the outside play area for the playcare, they have a cool playground and lots of cool little bikes the kids can ride in the play area.
Last but not least I asked her how did it all start, and it turns out that a man named Father Dan Madigan founded Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services in the basement of his Oak Park church in 1976. Pained by watching so many people, including small children, go hungry on the streets of Sacramento, he called together a small cadre of compassionate volunteers to tackle the problem. Over time, the number of facilities, staff and volunteers grew to meet the ever increasing need in Sacramento. But way before that back in the 1900’s the original building was a grocery store called the Arata Brothers Grocery Store, but then it was an abandoned building for many years.
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, Oak Park Facility is located at 3333 Third Avenue. If you are interested in any of the programs you can call them at (916) 456-1980 or visit their website at www.sacramentofoodbank.org. Also their next food give away will be at the Oak Park Community Center on July 24th at 5:00pm till 7:00pm.
Adult Education & Computer Rooms
Parent Education, they earn points to get the stuff they need
The demonstration garden
Food in the huge fridge almost ready to be handed out
The clothing area….