Another View: Share the bounty

Another View
By: E. Ken Tokutomi, chairman, Salvation Army of Auburn advisory board
-A +A
Harvest time is here and the demand at our food closets is tremendous! The foothills are an excellent place to capitalize on the fertile soil, good weather and abundant land with an abundant garden. We are blessed to live in an area that allows us to harvest and enjoy the fruits of His bounty. Having developed a process to accept garden-grown produce, The Salvation Army of Auburn is encouraging people when they pick from their gardens and have extra fruits and vegetables to consider donating your surplus harvest to one of our area food closets. Providing nutritious, fresh food to our clients who frequent our local food closets enables us to provide a means to stretch our food closet dollars and provide for a healthy choice for the disadvantaged and working poor. The Salvation Army’s Advisory board member Carl Coleman is chairing a project called “Share the Bounty.” We want to develop a network of people and groups that will “glean” from their own or other gardens and ranches, the fruits and vegetables that are so plentiful in our foothill communities. We request that, if possible, these items be delivered to 286 Sutter St., Auburn which is the location of our food closet. The hours for social services are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday though Friday. We all know that the economy is bad and local families are hurting. When you have the choice to pay the electric bill or buy food with limited resources what do you do? Supporting our local food closets that are designed to assist those people who at the end of the month can’t make ends meet is one way to help. In the month of May the Army’s food closet distributed over 20,300 meals. This is a 19 percent increase from January. In one day we serviced 52 families. With the encouragement of Joanne Neft and the cooperation of Carol Arnold of the farmers market, the Army has instituted a program that encourages vendors to donate whatever is left over after Saturday’s market, which concludes at noon and is located at the overflow parking lot adjacent to Auburn Folsom Road and Lincoln Way. We would like to thank those vendors who generously participate and encourage all to visit our excellent farmers market and support local agriculture. The Army will be there to pick up the surplus. With the success of these projects, the Army’s vision is to provide a clearing house to enable the various food closets in the foothills to share the bounty. The Army has the refrigeration and storage capacity to provide this opportunity for local food closets to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables for their clients. Every fruit or vegetable donated means our local food closets don’t have to buy as much food. With the demand so high and the resources of all nonprofits so limited, your donations would have a positive impact in our community. The Army is purchasing approximately $4,000 worth of food a month to support our closet. Another aspect of Share the Bounty, spearheaded by board member Angela Atteberry, is working a community garden. She is currently partnering with Virgil Traynor, the Auburn Rotary Club and other community activists as they are currently harvesting from Virgil’s community garden in North Auburn. They have provided thousands of pounds of fresh food to our food closet. Another group that helps the needy with food is Feed the Hungry of Auburn. This organization buys 4H livestock animals at the Gold Country Fair, has these animals butchered and donates the meat to the Army’s food closet. This program is in its 19th year and we are one of the largest buyers at the auctions each year. We get donations from the community, pool the monies together and bid on animals. The Army is one of the few food closets in the nation that supplies ground beef and pork when it is available to its clients. If you are interested in this program, please contact me at (530) 888-1303. The Salvation Army needs volunteers who can pick up, deliver, or go out to farms and pick fruits or vegetables. We would like to set up a database to be able to call or e-mail volunteers to help assist with this mission. Please call Jon Morningstar at (530) 889-3992 to offer your services. Ken Tokutomi is the chair of the Salvation Army advisory board.