Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quilting for a Cause at the Yolo County Fair THIS WEEK!

Did you know the word "quilt" is derived from the Latin "culcita," meaning "a padded and tied mattress?" 

Quilts were originally made for their utility, as the technique produces a thick padded fabric -  either for warmth or for protection. Quilts have also been used as vivid storytelling canvases--literally weaving histories and narratives into perpetuity.

Thanks to Mrs. Janet Wheaton and some of her friends from Woodland's former Beehive Quilt Shop, this summer, quilting will take on an entirely different meaning.

The 3 quilts pictured here will be given away as raffle prizes at this year's Yolo County Fair.  Tickets will be on sale from now until Sunday August 23rd, priced at $1.00 per ticket, and 6 tickets for $5.00.  
All monies generated from the ticket sales will be donated to the Food Bank of Yolo County!

When asked what inspires her to take on the enormous task of quilting, Mrs. Wheaton simply replied that she "enjoys getting the creative juices flowing."  Quilts such as this would typically retail for upwards of $300.00, so a chance to take one home for just a dollar is an unbelievable opportunity. 

The raffle for the quilts will be held on the last day of the Yolo County Fair--August 23rd. Winners do not have to be present to win. For more information and to purchase a raffle ticket, please contact Janet Wheaton at (530) 662-7063.

If you have an idea for a creative fundraiser to help the needy in Yolo County, please contact the Food Bank at (530) 668-0690.  Thank you, Mrs. Wheaton, for supporting the Food Bank of Yolo County! See you all at the Fair!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hunger Is Humanity's Everday Catastrophe

Did you miss our monthly "Focus On Health" feature column in Sunday's Davis Enterprise?  If so, check out the reprint, here!

Original Print Date: Sunday, July 25, 2010
Special to the Davis Enterprise

Hunger Is Humanity's Everyday Catastrophe
By William F. French

Disaster.  The dictionary defines it as a "calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage or hardship."  Thanks, in part, to global media coverage, we've become all too familiar with the sight of devastation caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and so on.

While it's true that natural calamities often paint a vivid and dramatic portrait, there is another sort of disaster that warrants mentioning - one that is faced by thousands in Yolo County on a daily basis: hunger.  One need only ask a working family facing foreclosure, a furloughed government employee, or one of the thousands of unemployed job seekers, and they'll resoundingly affirm that our current economic climate is nothing short of disastrous.  And with no end to this man-made debacle in the foreseeable future, to where may our neighbors turn in their time of desperation?

For 40 years, the Food Bank has worked to fulfill its mission "to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in Yolo County."  We successfully distributed over 2.3 million pounds of food to the hungry in this county in 2009, and all estimates indicate that we will eclipse that number by far this year.  And, as is the case with any disaster relief effort, it will take a collaborative approach if we are able to be successful in meeting the current demand.

Yolo County is fortunate in that it has been decades since a catastrophic disaster has impacted our region.  Yet, it one's time of need, any measure of loss can prove overwhelming, as was evidenced by the recent fire that destroyed part of West Sacramento's Broderick Christian Center.  As one of our valued member agencies, the Food Bank was quick to respond to the Broderick Christian Center crisis; and through a collaborative effort with California Foodlink, we facilitated the donation of more than 10,000 pounds of food which has already been distributed to hundreds of West Sacramento's neediest residents.

It has been said that, in times of disaster, we witness either the best or the very worst of what a community has to offer.  Here, at the Food Bank, with fingers crossed, we're hoping for the very best.  In the wake of the common trauma we're now experiencing, is it fair of us to expect our neighbors and friends to unite in the common causes of feeding and supporting one another?  We think so.  The Food Bank's very existence is a testament to the spirits of community and unparalleled philanthropy that persist in Yolo County; and, during these extremely difficult days, it will take a renewed commitment to that spirit  to ensure our community's future survival.

For more information about how you can help, call the Food Bank of Yolo County at (530) 668-0690.

William F. French is the Food Resource Development Manager for the Food Bank of Yolo County.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cooking Classes at the Food Bank!

“A Taste For Your Senses” Cooking Class Series

Hosted by Chef Arturo Vargas
at the Food Bank of Yolo County
1244 Fortna Avenue
Woodland, CA  95776

All classes cost $30, materials included

Join us beginning this Monday, July 19 as we unveil a new series of healthy cooking classes at the Food Bank of Yolo County!  Whether you're "culinary-challenged" or just looking for ways to spice up some of your favorite recipes, you'll enjoy this fun informative foray into food!  Check out our current class schedule!

Current Class Schedule

*Monday, July 19  -  6:00pm-8:00pm*
Tortilla Class - Nothing comes close to the freshness and flavor of homemade tortillas. You’ll learn how to prepare the masa and make tortillas by hand with the best masa and tools. Tortillas can be used in several dishes and we’ll make a variety of Vegetarian Sopes in class.

*Friday, July 30  -  6:00pm to 8:00pm*
Veggie Thai - Come and learn how to give your healthy vegetables the flair of Thai flavors.

*Monday, August 2  - 10:00am-12:00pm*
Healthy Favorites: Mexican - What’s the difference between Oaxaca, Puebla, and Guerrero? Learn how to prepare authentic and healthy red, black, and green enchiladas.

*Monday, August 9  - 6:00pm-8:00pm*
Sensational Salsas - Are you a salsa fanatic? Here you will find great homemade salsa to fuel your passion for one of the world’s favorite foods. Come and join us for a colorful, zesty, spicy class.

*Friday, August 13  - 10:00am-11:30am*
Healthy Favorites: Chinese - Craving Takeout? Come learn how to prepare your favorite noodle dish at home, using fresh and local veggies.

*Monday, August 16  - 6:00pm-8:00pm*
Tamale Class - Join us to learn how to make a healthy upgrade to a delicious favorite: Oaxaca-style vegetarian, wrapped in banana leaves.

*Friday, August 20 - 10:00am-11:30am*
Tostada Fiestas - Come and join us for a Tostada Fiesta class and learn about Mexican herbs to combine with flavors with a fusion of vegetables.

*Friday, August 20  - 6:00pm-8:00pm*
Cooking with Peppers - Hot, Medium, and Mild; cooking with peppers, Mexican-style, from fresh peppers to dried chilies, expose yourself to a world of spicy tastes. We will review several varieties of peppers and chilies, their characteristics, and use to common dishes.

*Monday, August 23 -  10:00-11:30am*
Beyond Ramen - In this class you will learn how to turn inexpensive favorites into a healthy meal.

*Monday, August 30 -  6:00pm-8:00pm*
Stuffed with Taste - As bell peppers, zucchini, and chilies begin to appear at your local market, it is the perfect time to learn some healthy, delicious ways to make those veggies the focus of your meal.

Cash, check and credit card payments accepted.
For more information and to sign up for a class, please call:  (530)-668-0690,
or email

Don't delay!  Space is limited!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Food Bank Salutes Mariko Yamada For Taking Challenge

At a time when stock prices are plunging, unemployment rates are soaring and many Americans are struggling with uncertainty regarding their economic futures, it's encouraging to see elected officials like Assemblymember Mariko Yamada raising awareness about an issue that is affecting a steadily increasing number of Californians.

The Food Stamp Challenge is an opportunity to not only experience, first-hand, the budgeting constraints that millions of Californians face on a regular basis, but it's also an opportunity to take stock of our individual eating and food-spending habits.  For instance, have you ever considered how much money you spend on food daily?  Weekly?  Annually?  How would you respond if  you suddenly found yourself unable to enjoy or afford some of your favorite treats and dishes?

Assemblymember Yamada's reflections of each day's meals and activities give insight into the necessity of  making smart decisions, and, oftentimes, difficult choices in the wake of severely limited resources.  We thank and salute Assemblymember Yamada for, once again, taking the Food Stamp Challenge!

If you haven't already had a chance to review the personal insights and comments regarding Assemblymember Yamada's journey, we encourage you to please take some time to do so on our blog today. You can also learn more about the Food Stamp Challenge by checking out the news articles below:

Ginger Rutland: Could you eat on a food stamp diet?

Solano County Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada experiences a week on 'food stamps'

Assemblywoman issues challenge to live on $20 a week in food

Say Hello To Our L'il Eggplant!

So, exactly how well do you know our July Veggie of the Month?  You probably know that  eggplant is one of the most versatile veggies out there, and can be enjoyed fried, baked, roasted or steamed.

But did you know that they are also nutrient-dense and vitamin-packed? That's right.  Eggplants are a very good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, copper and thiamin - also known as vitamin B1.  On top of that, they're low in calories and fat - which makes them a must-have for any weight loss plan!

When shopping for eggplant, choose one that is firm and heavy for its size.  The color should be vivid--whether it is purple or green.  To test the ripeness of the eggplant, press on the skin with the pad of your thumb.  If it springs back into place, it means it is ripe.  The skin of an eggplant should be free of discoloration, as bruises or scars can often mean that the flesh underneath has become damaged and possibly decayed. 

You'll also want to avoid purchasing eggplants that have been waxed.  Eggplants are very sensitive to both heat and cold and should be stored at a temperature of 50 degrees Farenheit.  And remember:  don't cut an eggplant before you store it, because it perishes quickly once the skin has been punctured or its inner flesh has been exposed.

So now that you know everything there is to know about eggplant, it's time to start enjoying it, right?!  Check our Myspace blog every Friday during the month of July for exciting, delicious eggplant recipes.  In fact, there are 2 amazing egglplant recipes posted on the blog right now!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Food Stamp Challenge: Day 5

Thursday and Friday were whirlwinds. I think both our Capitol and District Offices were working double-speed to get ahead of the short week coming up after a three-day holiday.

My meals last night and today were made up of the week's leftovers. I never did use the two roma tomatoes and still have $.76 left.

But tonight, as I close out the 2010 Food Stamp Challenge, I have made myself a strong cup of coffee out of the 1.5 oz. package of French Roast that I have been saving all week. Have not had a cup of java since last Sunday, and I can say that I am savoring every swallow. For a coffee-holic, this cup is like a special dessert.

As we begin this Independence Day holiday weekend, I think of all those who would like to throw a barbecue for their families and wonder if they will have enough to celebrate.

Although the comments posted on the Woodland Daily Democrat and Vacaville Reporter websites have been mixed, I am glad to see this issue being discussed. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, providing millions of Americans with basic food security.

The first Food Stamp Program began in May of 1939, more than 70 years ago. With our State unemployment rate at least 12%, our economy slow-to-recover, jobs scarce, and the widest gap between the rich and the poor since the Great Depression, SNAP benefits can provide a common-sense lifeline to all those who qualify.

Happy Fourth of July 2010! Mariko

Food Stamp Challenge: Day 4

This will be the fourth of five posts on the 2010 Food Stamp Challenge.  Although we have not had any comments on this blog, The Daily Democrat in Woodland, the Davis Enterprise, the Vacaville Reporter, the Sacramento Bee, and California Food Policy Advocates in Oakland have contacted us about our efforts.

Wednesday evening, I prepared the second package of ground turkey with mushrooms and spinach and used the remaining angel hair pasta to make a tasty and filling meal of chow mein.

I have noted feeling tired a little earlier each evening without my usual eight cups of coffee a day.  I am not sure whether my staff notices any difference in my overall style given the lack of caffeine (smile), but I have been turning in about midnight each night rather than my customary 2 a.m. bedtime.

Friday, I will be in my District Office in Vacaville, beginning our summer work period.  I will continue to work every day in Sacramento as well as throughout the district while we work towards resolving the State's difficult budget crisis.

Last word tomorrow. Mariko