Tag Archives: Berkeley Food Pantry

Neighborhood project collects food for the hungry

The Berkeley Neighborhood Food Project works on a simple premise: people buy one extra non-perishable item each time they go to the store and place it in a bright green bag for bi-monthly pick up. Here, Phil Catalfo's trunk is filled with empty and full bags. Photo: Don Prichard
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By Phil Catalfo

Over the last two months, a small cadre of volunteers has fanned out across Berkeley to enroll their neighbors in an effort to support the work of the Berkeley Food Pantry and help feed hungry families in our community. Since 1969, the Pantry, a project of the Berkeley Friends Church, has been combating hunger, feeding about 700 families a month by utilizing food obtained from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, other sources, and donations. The new effort, dubbed the Berkeley Neighborhood Food Project (BNFP), aims to supplement the invaluable work that the Pantry, the food bank, and others have been doing—and to provide Berkeley residents with a more immediate way to help the hungry in our town.

The design of the project is brilliant in its simplicity: People are asked to buy one extra non-perishable item each time they go grocery shopping. These items are saved up in a reusable green shopping bags (emblazoned with the BNFP logo) until they are collected by project volunteers (who replace them with empty bags for the next collection). The bags are picked up at donors’ homes every two months, always on the second Saturday of an even-numbered month. … Continue reading »

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Top food stories from Berkeley in 2011

Andre Green from the Berkeley Food & Housing Project cooks for the neediest in the community. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back to see what food stories created a buzz around town and on Berkeleyside in 2011.

Granted, there’s an arbitrary nature to such end-of-year lists. But it’s an opportunity to take stock of the city’s culinary culture.

For the purposes of this post we’ve focused on food news stories, which doesn’t take into account the dozens of interviews with foragers, farmers, artisans, advocates, chefs, cooking teachers, preservers, pasta makers, cheese purveyors, pop-up restaurateurs, and farmers’ market vendors we’ve published during 2011.

This year also saw controversial coverage of corner stores, reporting on detractors of school food, an insider’s take on speed dating with a veg-friendly focus, and a widely criticized first-person piece on disappointing camp chow.

Readers may differ on what food stories caught their attention. Feel free to add your own highlights (or low points) in the comments section.

In alphabetical order: … Continue reading »

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Kindergarteners’ wagons continue long Berkeley tradition

Red wagons1
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Today at lunchtime kindergarteners at Jefferson Elementary School took part in a Berkeley Thanksgiving tradition that is believed to date back at least 25 years.

The children set out from their school and rolled ten little red wagons piled high with donations to the Berkeley Food Pantry one block away at the Berkeley Friends Church on Sacramento Street.

According to Masahisa Handa, who took the photos shown here, retired teacher Beverly Theile had the original idea of using red wagons so the kids could deliver the donated food to the pantry.

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Berkeley food programs short on funds as demand rises

A volunteer at the Berkeley Food Pantry bags produce for recipients.
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At a time when an increasing number of families need help putting a meal on the table, the Berkeley Food Pantry has a severe financial shortfall that threatens to jeopardize its emergency aid program.

If a promised check from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program, doesn’t show up within days, the pantry may not be able to help hungry Berkeley and Albany residents who line up for two bags of groceries later this week.

The 42-year-old program, which operates three afternoons a week out of the Berkeley Friends Church on Sacramento Street, has just $190 in its account, said director Bill Shive. In less dire times pantry expenses amounted to $3,000 a month, though it has spent as much as $5,000 a month on both perishables and pantry items to provide sustenance to people in need, said Shive.

Last year, the pantry received federal funding totaling $24,000, in two payments. This year their funds, like other aid groups, have been cut 40%. But the pantry has yet to receive any money from FEMA in 2011, though a check for half the program’s funding ($8,400) is said to be on its way.

And even if the money does come, the organization is so seriously strapped for cash — it has borrowed $6,000 from the Alameda County Community Food Bank this year to cover costs, said Shive  — that it’s likely to be an extremely lean time leading into the holiday season. “What this means is that we’ll have less food, less variety, and we’ll be able to help fewer people,” he said. … Continue reading »

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