Celebrating 40 Years of Helping Those in Need 1

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is Ready to Race

November is a special month for Sacramento’s main food bank. Thanksgiving Day will start off with the 23rd annual Run to Feed the Hungry, the largest Thanksgiving Day race in the nation. Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) owns the event and all funds raised directly benefit its programs and services. Last year showed a record-breaking count of 28,644 participants. The excitement of the run, combined with the nonprofit’s 40th anniversary this year, has given the staff, sponsors, volunteers, and clients of SFBFS a lot to celebrate!

SFBFS continues to expand its services and provides food, clothing and education to 135,000 men, women and children every month. According to Kelly Siefkin, vice president of communications and marketing for SFBFS, with the help of 224 partner agencies, the organization is able to distribute food to slightly more than half of the food insecure individuals in Sacramento County. Grocery items such as fresh vegetables and fruit, grains and dairy are distributed instead of hot meals, in an effort to move families toward self-sufficiency.

“A lot of our donors appreciate that we address the immediate needs but we are able to move families to self-sufficiency by all of the educational services we provide…helping them learn English, get their GED, teaching technology skills…helping to produce a more productive community,” says Siefkin.

SFBFS offers classes geared towards adult, parent, and youth education. One high school student, Adriana, has been coming to the after school youth education program since first grade. She initially started by getting tutoring for math and later got involved with the Computer Clubhouse, part of an international Intel program designed to provide a creative and safe out-of-school learning environment—young people from underserved communities work with adult mentors to explore their own ideas, develop new skills, and build confidence in themselves through the use of technology.

Adriana has learned sewing, 3D printing, Adobe Photoshop and photography. While she describes herself as shy and quiet, she says that the Clubhouse’s Teen Summit Program has taught her to be a leader and have a strong voice with her peers and with younger children.

“Ms. Kelly Ann [Computer Clubhouse coordinator] wants us to be ready for college,” says Adriana. “We take different field trips throughout the year. This year I hope we go on a tour of UC Davis or UC Santa Cruz.”

An Oak Park resident and new parent, Megan, has found the SFBFS parent education classes helpful for her family. She has learned about nutrition, post-partum, car seat installation and safe sleeping for her infant. By taking the classes, she has also earned “baby bucks” that she can spend in a children’s boutique offered by the nonprofit. “There are so many families in need in our community and SFBFS is a great place to start,” says Megan.

It takes the help of 82 employees, 7,000 volunteers and funding from private donors, grants and special events for SFBFS to continue to reach those in need. Giving a “hand up” versus a hand out is what Siefkin says makes the 40-year-old organization so successful. “They have to want to make those modifications to their life and we have to be prepared to walk hand in hand with them,” says Siefkin.

This year’s Turkey Drive takes place on November 18 from 4:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. at 3333 Third Avenue in Sacramento, and the community is encouraged to drive by and drop off a turkey!

The following week marks the organization’s main annual fundraiser. The Run to Feed the Hungry is an exciting and memorable Thanksgiving Day event that thousands of locals and visitors await each year. For some, it’s a family tradition where relatives join in the fun of walking/running the 5K or 10K on the brisk fall morning in beautiful East Sacramento. “The energy is unlike anything you have felt before,” says Siefkin. “People love that they are doing something to make a difference.”