Minsitry Report: Faith Food Fridays

A Blog Post from FCCV member Suzanne Awalt on her recent volunteer work with Faith Food Fridays, which she connected with through FCCV's partnership with the Vallejo Together Interfaith Coalition on Homelessness.

It’s Thursday morning at Faith Food Fridays (FFF). I have checked in with Mary Ann Buggs and signed a consent form for my volunteer gig as a member of Vallejo Together Interfaith Coalition on Homelessness. Before me is a sea of produce boxes stacked on tables in an off-set pattern. Rosa is the volunteer who strategically arranges the pattern so each box can be accessed. I learn that today we have 186 food boxes that, once filled by today’s volunteers, will be distributed Friday morning, no questions asked, to FFF clients who regularly come to the Solano Avenue facility. The physical space is tight, but the mood is light and our leader, Benjamin Buggs, sets a tone of joy and compassion in a ministry that he has shepherded and grown over 11 years. Today I am directed to place one bag of dried pinto beans in each box. Ann, a seasoned volunteer, suggests I use a shopping cart to carry the boxes and save a few steps. The task of box-filling is scheduled for 9a-2p each Thursday. My shift is 10a-12p. At any one time there are 4-7 volunteers. Benjamin tells me that volunteers come from varied walks of life—persons working off community service; high school students, church groups……so the mood can be altered by the mood and intention of the volunteer. Today the mood is very light and purposeful. Everyone is so helpful to me, the novice. But I quickly learn that this is only Carrie’s second time volunteering and Desiree started only a couple of weeks ago. We develop a rhythm. Periodically, Benjamin cheerily sings out, “Rule number one, don’t block the walk-way!!” Oops, that’s me! Have to take my cart and move on.

Into the boxes go rice, beans, boxed milk, canned meat, baked goods, potatoes, apples, and so on. There are pallets and crates of boxed and bagged food stuffs all around us. There is also a large walk-in cold storage locker. Benjamin has cultivated a relationship with Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano which links FFF to grocery stores and other sources of bulk foods.  On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, trucks fan out for grocery store pick-ups and Food Bank donations around town. Boxes are distributed on Fridays and Sundays. This same well-choreographed “dance” occurs 7 days a week year-round. There is a surplus of boxed milk this week, so Benjamin directs us to place a second one in each food box. I stay until after noon. Rev Dionne Carter from Vallejo Together has come to volunteer. So nice to meet her outside the Zoom screen. Benjamin has prepared lunch. His collard greens with garlic and pork belly are delicious. Each of us receives a FFF t-shirt. This is satisfying work. One thing I realize I forgot to do is to sign-out. Forgiveness is in ample supply here at FFF, so I know I will meet the same warm welcome next time. I definitely will return on future Thursdays. Need I say that volunteers are always welcome at Faith Food Fridays? They are. Talk to me if you want to know more.
P.S. Did you know that FCCV donates some of our garden produce to FFF? Glenda Goode makes the deliveries.

Mission Action Updates

Monthly Gift

The August Mission Action Gift will go to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. For many years the church has been supporting the Vallejo-Benicia Relay for Life in some way or another. For a few years in a row we had a team that would set up at the relay, walk the track, and raise money for the American Cancer Society. The last few years, while we have not had a team, many of our members have participated by going to the Relay and walking, buying raffle tickets (and winning raffles!), making luminarias, and donating to the cause. While the church will make a $200 gift, we encourage you all to hit the track and do what you can to help!

The Relay For Life runs from 9am on Saturday August 6th to 9am on Sunday August 7th at St. Patrick - St. Vincent High School in Vallejo. Food will be available for purchase throughout the entire event. Hope to see you there! Check out the event details here:

Food Pantry - TLC

Did you know that each Sunday for months, our members George and Rebecca Morris, and Amanda Trujillo, have been diligently filling the free food pantry with MRE's and snacks for our neighbors in need! Others have been stocking it every few days with toiletries, socks, and other necessities. It is a wonderful addition to our peace garden!

Now that George, Rebecca, and Amanda have moved away, it is up to us to continue the good work! I would like to form a group that will be able to keep the pantry stocked. Also, it could really use some cosmetic TLC. If you would like to help out, please let me know. I will reach out next month to set up a meeting so we can talk logistics!

Common Ground Accountability Action

As you all know this is an election year and along with it being mid-term season, we have some local races for City Council and the Solano County Board of Supervisors happening too! On October 12th (time & location tbd) we will hold an in person (fingers crossed!) Accountability Action with the candidates of the Council & Board. Here we will inform them of our agenda and ask them to work with us should they get elected. It is just another tool on our belt to building power in Vallejo! In the next few months we will be sending out invites and setting up meetings to prepare for the Action. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more info!