Diabetic Food Box Contains Traditional Foods

Most people know about the Community Food Bank’s Emergency Food Boxes, but few are aware of the Diabetic Food Box program. Imagine being diabetic and having a food crisis at the same time. It could be life-threatening. CFB has collaborated with Catholic Community Services to distribute Diabetic Food Boxes in Southern Arizona.

Mel MacLeod, Value Foods Store Manager at CFB, buys food items that are sugar-free and high in complex carbohydrates from national brokers. She has developed special relationships with food brokers who scan labels of potential products and send them to her for analysis of content and nutritional value.

Even though Mel works with national brokers such as CIS, Richfield Farms, and the Chef Maxwell Line, one of the most important foods in the Diabetic Box comes from right here in Tucson: tepary beans from the Tohono O’Odham Nation. Tepary beans are native to the Americas, growing vigorously in hot, arid climates. They are a traditional food of the Tohono O’Odham and provide a diabetes-preventative function by helping keep blood sugar even throughout the day.

Recently, the Tohono O’odham Nation contracted with the Community Food Bank to provide fifty adults with Diabetic Food Boxes as part of their Healthy Living program. These Diabetic Food Box recipients are enrolled in diabetes education and referred by a physician.

For more information, please contact Mel MacLeod 622-0525 Ext. 203.

It is Easy Being Green

energy-star-bulb.JPGIf you were on the operations team at the Community Food Bank, you probably would spend a lot of time thinking about how you could do something cheaper, quicker, better…or, greener.

CFB is not new to green. Long before the community demonstration garden began greening the landscape, Joy Tucker was installing compact fluorescent light bulbs when they first came on the market. “When you have 600 light bulbs to replace, you can save a lot of money and significantly shrink your carbon footprint. On average we save about $30 per bulb over its lifetime while keeping tons of C02 out of the atmosphere,” says Joy. Total savings are $18,000 over the life of the bulbs!

According to the United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than three million homes for a year, save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.”

The most recent initiative undertaken by CFB is its new recycling program. In the main warehouse, Brenda Nicholls-Moore is proud of the latest innovation she helped create in the Emergency Food Box area: EFB recycles 1,000 lbs of plastic bags and shrink wrap each month that previously went into our landfill. “I would just look at it going into the trash and want to cry,” Brenda recalled. “My husband David works at Bashas’ and I learned they recycle their plastic in Phoenix since Tucson doesn’t recycle it.” CFB worked out a partnership with Bashas’ Customer Service Manager Nick Rodriguez and Store Director Troy Decons where they take our plastic waste to recycle with theirs. Now CFB’s drivers simply drop off the plastic for recycling when they go to pick-up food donations from Bashas’. This partnership will prevent an estimated six tons of plastic packaging from ending up in local landfills every year. This is in addition to all of the cardboard, paper, cans, plastic bottles and pallets we were already recycling.

Reading the list above, you would imagine that it includes everything we can possibly recycle—but there’s more. We also recycle food. Not everything that is donated to CFB can be distributed to our clients. Food that is past its Sell By date, bread that is beyond stale and many other damaged items come through our doors. These items are not fit for human consumption but are enjoyed by farm animals such as pigs and chickens. We even supply our recycled food to an animal shelter in Marana.

Another green initiative at CFB and aid to our farmers is our free compost. Amanda Morse, garden coordinator, makes it available for our home gardeners, as well. Thanks to her cohort of organically fed chickens, coffee grounds from Java Edge, spent grain from Nimbus Brewery, garden weeds and waste—we are able to make incredibly rich, natural compost.

Presbyterian intern Phil Sigmon, with the help of the Peace Volunteers (middle and high school youth), just finished a berming project to direct rainwater (next time it rains…ahem…) to a native tree. In fact, the entire landscape at the food bank is low water use, from drip irrigation, water harvesting and mulching in the garden, to low water use trees (desert willow, mesquite, palo verde and acacia). Many of these trees were planted when we purchased the building in 1995.

These are among many, many green initiatives at CFB. We are proud to say that even our upcoming car raffle includes green cars, this newsletter is printed on recycled paper and cardboard boxes that come in with food donations are reused as emergency food boxes whenever possible. Do you have an idea that will help CFB in its effort to be green? Submit it to mailto:editor@communityfoodbank.com.

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 The Community Food Bank and Desert Harvesters recommend that you harvest your mesquite pods now in preparation for the annual Community Mesquite Bean Millings in October and November.  The Food Bank is now harvesting native mesquite pods at its new 10 acre farm in Marana and you can too from your own backyard!

 Mesquite beans can be milled into nutritious flour used in baking and cooking.  It is high in protein and fiber and is valued for its natural sweetness.  Because of the high protein and fiber, mesquite flour helps regulate blood sugars and is good for diabetics.  Five gallons of mesquite pods will grind into one pound of flour.

 It is recommended that you harvest the pods directly from the trees when the pods turn yellow or yellowish red and they are dry enough to snap.  Taste the pods before harvesting to make sure they are sweet.  Native varieties such as Velvet, Screwbeans and Honey mesquites tend to have more fruity flavor than non-native pods.  Only harvest pods from trees that are in protected areas away from busy streets and other potential pollutants.  For information on how to collect pods and store them until milling, visit the Desert Harvesters Website, www.desertharvesters.org.

 The 4th Annual Community Mesquite Bean Millings are expected to bring out over 3,000 people from Southern Arizona.  To see the listings of the fall events or to have the hammermill brought to your community, visit the Desert Harvesters Website at www.desertharvesters.org.

 For more information, contact Dana Helfer at the Community Food Bank, (520)
622-0525 x 249 or by e-mail at dhlfer@communityfoodbank.com.   Brad Lancaster may be contacted at Desert Harvesters, (520) 882-9443 or by e-mail at bradlank@gmail.com.

Stuff the Bus

The next “Stuff the Bus” on KGUN-TV, to benefit the Community Food Bank, will be June 29, 2007. The Sun Tran bus will be located at Sam Levitz Furniture, 100 N. Pantano Road. Local breaks in KGUN-TV programming will begin at 5:10 AM and air throughout the day until after the 6:00 PM newscast.

Everyone is urged to bring non-perishable food items to “Stuff the Bus” and benefit the Community Food Bank.  

Bashas’ Summer Food Drive

hands-taking-food.gifThe Community Food Bank announces a Summer Food Drive July 1 through July 31, 2007 with drop off locations at area Bashas’ Grocery Stores.

Community Food Bank donations are down and requests for emergency food boxes are up 34% this summer. The Food Bank distributes over 14,000 boxes per month.  Additional help for these families is especially critical during the summer months when children are out of school.  Many people think of feeding the hungry at holiday times, but the need is with us all year around. 

Bashas’ stores in Tucson, Green Valley, Oro Valley (now Ike’s) and Marana are drop off points for this Summer Food Drive.  The Food Bank is requesting non-perishable items such as peanut butter, canned meats, canned tomato products, cereal or pasta.

Look for the barrels with the Community Food Bank signs in the area Bashas’ stores and help with this important Summer Food Drive. 

For more information, contact Jack Parris at (520) 622-0525 x 215 or by cell at (520) 444-5412. 
Bashas’ Locations:

  • I-19 & Duval Mine, Green Valley (520) 648-2282
  • Sunrise & Kolb, Tucson (520) 299-0633
  • Thornydale & Cortaro, Tucson (520) 744-4488
  • Broadway & S. Houghton, Tucson (520) 296-4700
  • Camp Lowell & Swan, Tucson (520) 323-5820
  • Rancho Vistoso & Oracle, Oro Valley (now Ike’s) (520) 818-9664
  • W. River & La Cholla, Tucson (520) 690-3680
  • Dove Mountain Rd., Marana (520) 572-5280

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ASBA to host Shred-A-Thon

Concerned about the security of your business documents?  See them shredded before your eyes, while you wait on July 26th.

The Arizona Small Business Association will hold a “Shred-A-Thon” on Thursday, July 26th in their office parking lot at 4811 E. Grant Road (N.E. corner of Swan and Grant in the Crossroads Festival).  The “Shred-A-Thon” will take place from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

The costs will be $5.00 for one box, $10.00 for three and the appropriate incremental increases for more. All proceeds will go to the Community Food Bank and the Tucson Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The “Shred-A-Thon” is presented by the Arizona Small Business Association as a public service in cooperation with Iron Mountain Document Management.

For more information, call the Arizona Small Business Association at (520) 327-0222.

Farm (and Food) Bill Update

Now that both the Senate and House have passed their versions of the farm bill, members from both House and Senate Agricultural committees are working as a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two bills.  The proposed legislative package that the conference committee comes up with will then come to the floors of both the House and Senate for a final vote.  If the package passes, it will then go to President Bush for a signature or a veto.

A key issue that we have been following is funding for the Community Food Projects (CFP) Competitive Grants program. CFP has been funding innovative grassroots efforts (over 240 of them) to promote Community Food Security and local food systems since 1996 to the tune of $5 million per year.  In the Senate version, the CFP program is slated to receive $10 million a year in mandatory funding, which is much better than the House version of $30 million a year but in discretionary funding (which means we would have to fight every year for it to receive any funding). So we want to encourage the conference committee members to go with the Senate version on this issue.

Another issue we have been following is Geographic preference language that would remove restrictions that keep school districts and institutions from using preferences for locally grown food when buying food for their meal programs.  Fortunately, geographic preference language is strong in both the House and Senate bills going into the conference committee process.

We have also been following efforts to strengthen the Nutrition Title of the Farm bill that includes positive efforts to expand and reform Food Stamps and other nutrition programs.  The following four paragraphs come from a January 2, 2008 action alert from FRAC (Food Research and Action Center):

Procedural Outlook:  Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees reportedly met in late December to establish a framework and timetable for ironing out differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill that passed in July and December, respectively.  Although conferees have not yet been formally appointed, informal negotiations are expected to proceed, with leaders aiming to complete conference negotiations by February 1st.  See “Federal farm bill passes in Senate,” by Erik Posz, Redwood Gazette, 12/27/07.

House and Senate leaders also are expected to play significant roles in decisions about the financing and priorities in the Farm Bill package.  And members of Congress who are not on the Conference Committee also still can influence the direction of the package and should be asked to weigh in on behalf of nutrition title priorities with their leaders and Conference Committee Members. 

What’s at Stake:  The Senate version of the Farm Bill that passed in December and the one that passed the House in July each contain important new investments in the Food Stamp Program and TEFAP.  These include, among other changes:  increasing and then indexing both the Food Stamp Program $10 minimum monthly benefit and the standard deductions for households of three or fewer; lifting the cap on the child care deduction; raising food stamp household asset limits and then indexing them; and boosting TEFAP commodities purchases.   For details of the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, go to agriculture.house.gov and agriculture.senate.gov, respectively (Senate version to be posted). 

The House-passed Farm Bill is preferable with regard to the duration of Food Stamp Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) improvements—there are permanent law changes under the House bill, but only five-year changes that would theoretically sunset under the Senate version unless renewed (and paid for) at the end of the five years. The House provisions on the $10 minimum monthly benefit, standard deduction and TEFAP also are preferable to the Senate bill:  the minimum benefit boost would take effect earlier (FY 2008 rather than FY 2009); the standard deduction raise would be more significant ($145 rather than $140); and the TEFAP commodity purchases increase would be indexed for inflation. Improvements to food stamp asset rules, however, are more significant under the Senate bill (with asset limits increased from $2,000 to $3,500, and $3,000 to $4,500, before indexing). Advocacy to secure the best provisions on each key point from each bill and to finance these investments for ten years  is critically important for the potential gains to be realized for hungry families.
Finally, there were many other efforts we (the Community Food Bank) did not follow as closely that were aimed and larger reforms of the Farm bill that did not do so well:

Dorgan and Grassley’s amendment to limit commodity payments and redirect funds to nutrition, rural development and conservation failed. Its main opponents were southern senators. Due to a procedural technicality that required the amendment to pass with 60, not 50, votes, it didn’t pass with 56 votes. Ugh.
Klobuchar’s amendment to limit commodity payments to those with an adjusted gross income under $750,000 failed
Tester’s amendment against unfair livestock competition failed
Brown’s amendment to cut crop insurance subsidies failed
Lugar and Lautenberg’s amendment to phase out commodities altogether and strengthen other areas, including the nutrition title, failed.

Farm Bill Timing

*Congress has scheduled votes for the two weeks of Jan. 11th and the 18th, so the farm bill conference committee could meet during those weeks, after having worked casually on the farm bill over their break. Chairman Harkin has said he hopes to finish conference by the end of January.

*Veto threats have been issued by the Bush administration against both the House and Senate Farm bills. It’s not clear whether this threat is only intended to pressure the conference committee.

Message:  Even though, as far as we know, no Congressional members from Arizona will be part of the conference committee, you are still encouraged to contact your Senators and Representative to urge them to weigh in on the process.  You can encourage them to voice support for mandatory funding of $10 million a year for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants program, and big increases in Food Stamp program benefits (including the minimum monthly benefit and the standard deduction).

If you have any questions, please contact Kitty Ufford-Chase at the Food Bank.  She can be reached by phone at 622-0525, x251, or email: kitty@communityfoodbank.org.

Follow the Food and Farm Bill…and Act On It!

cfb-big-leaves1.jpgEvery 5 years, the US Congress makes decisions about a $90 billion taxpayer funded appropriation called the Farm Bill, or as some more aptly call it, “The Food and Farm Bill.”

“To a large extent, the Farm Bill determines what sort of food we Americans eat (and how they taste and how much they cost), which crops are grown under what conditions, and, ultimately, whether we’re properly nourished or not.”
     Dan Imhoff, author of
     Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to a Food and Farm Bill

view a short explanation of “marker bills”

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Step #1:
Your US Congressional Representatives (see below) need to hear your concerns about the 2007 Farm Bill.  Specific legislation to react to will be appearing early in the summer.  In the meantime, call or email your Representatives to share your top concerns, which might include:

A Farm Bill that expands access to healthy food for all Americans
A Farm Bill that addresses the loss of farmland, open space and family farms
A Farm Bill that provides more funds to distribute healthy foods through Food Banks
A Farm Bill that protects native, threatened, and endangered species
A Farm Bill that addresses the escalating health costs of obesity
A Farm Bill that expands access for Food Stamp debit cards at all Farmers’ Markets
A Farm Bill that provides more funds for sustainable farming practices and research
A Farm Bill that protects and restores rivers, streams, wetlands and other riparian areas
A Farm Bill that provides healthy foods for schools

…As you share your concerns and priorities, let them know you know the Farm Bill affects your health and you want them to pay attention to ALL the provisions.

Click here to print out a letter you can sign and fax or mail to the local offices of your Representative and Senator (PDF)

Oprima aquí para ver petición en Español (PDF) 

Click have your name and address electronically added to the letter

Congressional District #7: Congressman Raul Grijalva
810 E. 22nd St. Suite 102, Tucson AZ 85713
In Washington, DC: 202-225-2435,  fax: 202-225-1541
 In Tucson: 622-6788
 By email through his website: http://www.house.gov/grijalva

Congressional District #8: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
1661 N. Swan, Suite 112, Tucson AZ 85712
 In Washington, DC: 202-225-2542,  fax: 202-225-0378
 In Tucson: 881-3588
 By email through her website: http://www.house.gov/giffords

Arizona Senator John McCain: 
 407 W. Congress St. Suite 103, Tucson AZ 85701
 In Washington DC: 202-224-2235,  fax: 202-228-2862
 In Tucson: 670-6637
 By email through his website: http://mccain.senate.gov

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl:
7315 N. Oracle, Suite 220, Tucson, AZ 85704
 In Washington DC: 202-224-4521,  fax: 202-224-2207
 In Tucson: 575-8633
 By email through his website: http://kyl.senate.gov

Step #2:
As legislation develops over the next four to five months, there are additional ways you can follow the “Food and Farm Bill” through Congress, and act to promote legislation that will support a healthier, more equitable food and agricultural system that will sustain us all for generations to come:
 => Get on an Action Alert Email List –email:  kitty@communityfoodbank.org
Sponsored by the Food Bank’s Community Food Security Center, this list will educate you and notify you when your input is needed to support local food production and low-income people having access to healthy food.

 => Come to Information Sessions on the Food & Farm Bill at the Food Bank
Community Food Security Center Staff are tracking aspects of the Food and Farm Bill that have to do with supporting local food production and increasing the ability of low-income people to access healthy food.  This will be a time to ask questions, get the latest updates, share your thoughts and strategize how best to involve other people.
Sessions will be Wednesday from 5:30 – 6:30 pm on September 12th with more sessions to be scheduled as needed.
For more information, please contact Kitty Ufford-Chase at the Community Food Bank at 622-0525, click here for directions.

Step #3:
Don’t Act Alone. Join forces with the organizations below, or be the point person for a group you already belong to:
 Native Seeds/SEARCH  www.nativeseeds.org
 Slow Food – Tucson Chapter  www.slowfoodtucson.org
 Defenders of Wildlife   www.defenders.org
 Chef and Child   www.acfchefs.org
 Community Food Bank  www.communityfoodbank.org

Step #4:
Check out these websites for more information on the Farm Bill:
 Farm & Food Policy Project   www.farmandfoodproject.org
Community Food Security Coalition www.msawg.org
 Food Action & Research Center  www.frac.org
 Bread for the World    www.bread.org
 NY City Farm Bill Coalition   www.nycfarmbill.org
 Chef Ann Cooper’s Blog   www.lunchlessons.org
 Nat’l Catholic Rural Life Conference  www.ncrlc.org