Thursday, June 24, 2010

Harvest of pennies yields food for hungry people

Our Graham/South Hill FISH site was delighted to receive a check for $1000 from the students of Spanaway's Cedarcrest Jr. High. The students participated in a national educational program called Penny Harvest. What makes the Penny Harvest unique is that students not only collect pennies to support worthy causes, they also turn those pennies into grants for community organizations.  As part of their learning, the students form Philanthropy Roundtables to study community problems and determine which organizations can best address those problems. The students themselves select these community organizations to receive grant money from their penny drives. The Cedarcrest students' Applied Algebra Philanthropy Roundtable selected FISH Food Banks to receive their grant.  A big thanks to all of the students at Cedarcrest for your generosity -- we are so honored to be chosen for this grant!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Intel employees garden for food banks

Intel is a high-tech business. Its employees are immersed in cutting-edge technology. But beyond their technological expertise, Intel employees are digging in the dirt -- literally!-- to make their community a better place.

The Intel DuPont Community Gardens began last year as the brainchild of Stu Vannerson, then an engineering manager at Intel. While doing a community service project with other Intel employees at an organic farm in Olympia, Stu began to wonder whether some the spare acreage at Intel's DuPont location could be put to better use. He found other employees who shared his enthusiasm, and they started planning.

Local businesses helped with donations and discounts for topsoil and lumber, and the first five beds were built on August 1. With the first harvest in November, employee interest and support grew rapidly.

Now there are 22 raised beds and about a dozen other planter boxes, which Stu anticipates could yield about 2,000 pounds of produce this year for food banks in Pierce and Thurston Counties. Each of the beds is sponsored by a participating Intel department. That department's employee team makes all of the decisions -- what to plant, when to plant, how to set up a watering schedule, where to donate their produce -- and do all of the work themselves.

Intel initially supported the employees' effort by putting in underground irrigation and setting up a 120' x 180' fence around the gardens. "Now that they've seen that the employees are serious and can sustain this, they ask us what else we could use," says Vannerson.

In March of this year, the Intel DuPont Community Gardens received its 501 (c) (3) designation as a nonprofit organization. Now retired from Intel after 30 years, Stu Vannerson remains a director of the garden project. He says employees are so excited about what they've accomplished so far that they keep bringing him new ideas for how to expand the gardens' reach and impact. "It's great to see people who deal every day in nanoseconds get so excited about getting their hands dirty and finding it such meaningful work."

We here at FISH are excited too, and very grateful for the produce that the gardens have begun contributing to our Lakes Area FISH Food Bank. Congratulations to Stu and to all the generous Intel employees who have made this project possible!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thanks to St. Luke's!

The good folks at St. Luke's Memorial Episcopal Church in Tacoma's North End ran a special drive for FISH Food Banks. Instead of a food drive they decided to help us stock up on non-food essentials, so they conducted a toilet paper drive.
Toilet paper and other necessary non-food items are always in short supply at the food banks, and are always needed because such items are not covered by food stamps. Thanks so much to all the folks at St. Luke's for their generosity! Together they collected more than 1250 rolls of TP - far outpacing their original goal of 250 rolls.