Holiday Giving Along America’s Wild River Coast

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for Del Norte Triplicate

Wild Rivers Community Foundation is awarding 21 organizations in Del Norte and Curry counties with checks to help with their holiday programs this year. A reception at Howonquet Hall on Wednesday will give each grantee the opportunity to accept the check and also to talk about individual programs and how they provide support to needy children and families during the holidays.  

These funds were made possible through the generous donations of 21 organizations in Oregon and California.  They will also be recognized at the reception.

The Holiday Partnership Program is an annual program at Wild Rivers Community Foundation.  This year the awards, ranging from $200 to $900, will go to 12 organizations in Del Norte County, including Crescent City and the community of Smith River.  It will help nine organizations in Curry County, including Brookings, Gold Beach and Port Orford.

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‘It’s harder this year’

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Organizations try to provide food to needy
by Emily Jo Cureton, Del NorteTriplicate

Volunteer Lisa Morris prepares distribution bags. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson

Volunteer Lisa Morris prepares distribution bags. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson

Say eight Del Norters sit down to Christmas dinner. Chances are at least one of them is unemployed, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

“It’s just harder this year,” Debra Brixey said as she filled out an application for a Christmas food basket from Rural Human Services on Friday.

Ever since she lost her job as a professional caretaker last year, she occasionally comes to the RHS food bank, which supplies about three meals a month to qualifying clients.

“These are people that have been successful long-time workers and all of the sudden they get laid off and they have a family,” RHS special projects coordinator Ron Phillips said of many of the food bank’s clients. 

Another woman filling out an application for holiday food on Friday got laid off in the summer of 2010. She’s a certified nursing assistant with two kids still at home. She didn’t want to give her name.

“It’s embarrassing when you have to come in here and you don’t have a job. It’s a pride thing,” she said. “I love my job and I do miss helping people. It’s like I’m stuck.”

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Coastal Voices: Farmers Market Brightens Community

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by Terri McCune-Oostra, for Del Norte Triplicate

Congratulations to our community! It is because of you and your continued support of the Crescent City Farmers market that this year has been the most successful in our history.

You may not realize it, but as you shop our local vendors every week, you have been supporting up to 50 local small businesses. Your hard-earned dollars go to a local family, which in turn spends its hard-earned dollars locally.

This year also saw the expansion of our EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) program.  This program allows participants in the “Cal Fresh” food program to scan their cards and receive market tokens.

Sutter Coast Hospital, through a generous donation, helped support this endeavor by donating to new recipients who scan their EBT card for a minimum of $10, an additional $5 in market tokens.

The Community Assistance Network (CAN) also received a grant to help advertise and market the EBT use at the market, helping our local vendors boost their income from EBT sales by over 200 percent.

Each year, community members have told us to start the market sooner and make it last longer, into the fall. This year, the market started two weeks sooner and will continue until the last Saturday in November, extending the season by one and one half months. We still have two more weeks for the market, so just in case it is raining and you don’t see the vendors in the Del Norte County Fair’s parking lot, they will be waiting for you, in the Arts and Crafts Building.

Safeway Launching Holiday Food Drive

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for Del Norte Triplicate

Safeway is now taking donations as part of its Help Us End Hunger (Every Bag Counts) food drive.

Food will go to help families that rely on the assistance of food banks during holidays.

Safeway is partnering with Kraft Foods, customers and local food banks to collect food donations at all Safeway stores through Dec. 24. On Saturday, the Community Assistance Network (CAN), will have community and youth volunteers at Safeway from 1 to 4 p.m. to greet donors.

A specially produced shopping bag filled with the items that the food banks need the most will be available for $10 at all Safeway stores. The bag includes:

Every bag of food purchased during Safeway’s food drive will help CAN provide food to families in Del Norte County throughout the holiday season.

Market Survey Results

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for Del Norte Triplicate

Vista Community Coordinator Michael Waddle, left, conducts a customer survey with Jerry Fisher of Crescent City at the Crescent City Farmers Market on Oct. 8. Submitted

Vista Community Coordinator Michael Waddle, left, conducts a customer survey with Jerry Fisher of Crescent City at the Crescent City Farmers Market on Oct. 8. Submitted

Community Assistance Network (CAN) recently took a survey of marketgoers at the Saturday Farmers Market. A total of 99 surveys were filled out. Here are some highlights:

• More than half the respondents visited 4 to 7 vendors

• Almost 40 percent of shoppers spent $11-$20, with 15 percent spending between $31 and $50

• Almost 60 percent are week­ly shoppers

• Produce is the number one purchased item, with baked goods, plants/flowers, and meat/eggs following

• The survey is part of the EBT promotion work, and 57 percent of those surveyed had heard or seen EBT promotion materials

• Five percent of customers used their EBT card

• 59% of customers live within one to five miles of the market, with only 4 percent driving more than 30 miles

 

Harvesting the Extras

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Ancient practice gets new life in Del Norte County
by Kelley Atherton, Del NorteTriplicate

Marci Olson and her son, Alex Olson, glean apples at a local residence Oct. 9 as part of a 4-H effort to help feed the needy. Submitted

Marci Olson and her son, Alex Olson, glean apples at a local residence Oct. 9 as part of a 4-H effort to help feed the needy. Submitted

The Community Assistance Network and a group of 4-H high schoolers have teamed up to help fight hunger in Del Norte County.

 Since the summer, 4,524 pounds of food have been collected and distributed through CAN’s food bank for the Del Norte Community Gleaning Project.

Food that doesn’t sell at the farmers market or is blemished, but still edible, is gleaned. People who receive a food box through CAN have been getting fresh, local produce with their non-perishable food items.

Gleaning is a practice going back to the Middle Ages and is even mentioned in the Bible, said Angela Glore, the director of food programs for CAN.

To glean means to gather useful food after the best crops have been harvested to sell.

“Feudal lords were required to let people go through their fields after the harvest to scavenge,” Glore said.

This was done so the poor could have access to food, she said.

Nowadays, in areas where there are a lot of farms, teams of people travel the countryside to glean crops that are distributed to food banks, Glore said.

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Coastal Voices: What’s in a Food Policy?

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by Michael Waddle, AmeriCorps VISTA, for Del Norte Triplicate

Eating well isn’t only about what you eat; it’s also about where you live.

Whether you live in fast food central or around the corner from a farmers’ market, near two grocery stores or two liquor stores, your social environment helps dictate your food options.

Over the past year, I have helped coordinate the Community Food Council for Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands. It’s our local version of a food policy council and its mission is to create a vibrant, sustainable local food system for all.

You may ask — what does policy have to do with food? Many people believe that eating healthy is all about personal choice: If everyone chose to eat lots of fresh produce and whole foods, we’d be a fit nation. But not everyone has equal access to healthy foods. The truth of the matter is that personal choice is just one piece of healthy eating, and that policy affects how we all eat.

On the federal level, congressional legislation dictates what crops will be supported and what will go into school lunches. At the municipal level, zoning policies can either encourage or discourage community gardens, farmers markets, liquor stores, fast food restaurants and backyard chickens. Each policy decision made by legislators helps define what foods will be most readily available and affordable in any given neighborhood.

Last week, I attended a Prevention Institute training in Oakland called “Advancing Prevention in Your Community through Policy and Organizational Practice Change.” A wordy title to be sure, but the conference introduced a tool the institute uses to approach community change.

The “Spectrum of Prevention” involves six levels of action: strengthening individual knowledge and skills; promoting community education; educating providers; fostering coalitions and networks; changing organizational practices; and influencing policy and legislation. Our local Food Council is already working at multiple levels of the spectrum.

Strengthening individual knowledge and skills is at the base of the spectrum because it affects only individuals, not the social environment. For example, people can be taught healthy cooking skills, but if their neighborhood doesn’t have a source of affordable healthy foods, those skills will go to waste. As you move up the spectrum, you begin influencing more people.

The Food Council itself is in the middle of the spectrum, “fostering coalitions and networks,” as it brings together food producers, retailers, consumers, and educators. From this middle ground, the council can work to affect change on both ends of the spectrum.

In October, we debuted a pilot program called “Food and Cookin’ 101” at Sunset High School, which teaches nutrition, menu and budget planning, and basic cooking and kitchen skills to about a dozen students. It is building individual skills, the base of the spectrum, but also moving toward changing organizational practices.

The lessons from the pilot program will be combined into a curriculum tied to California educational standards that could be integrated into all levels of our school system.

The Food Council mission is much broader. We want all people to have equal access to good food: healthy, affordable foods should be available in every neighborhood and community. Our hope is that more of that food is produced here in Del Norte and the adjacent tribal lands so that we build a food economy that provides jobs and keeps food dollars in our community.

To reach that mission, organizational practices and local, regional and federal policies will have to be changed to support those goals. More of our smaller local grocers will need to accept CalFresh and WIC benefits and carry fresh whole foods. Our schools will need to continue their work to improve school meals, but we may also need to advocate for changes to the current federal school meal guidelines established by congressional legislation.

The Food Council is working to make our local food system healthier and more vibrant for us all. While it intends to create change at all levels of the spectrum, the most permanent and effective change will be through policy change.

What the newly elected Food Council representatives will choose to advocate for, I do not know. I do know that it will keep our area’s interests at heart as it moves forward into its first year of official operation.

Michael Waddle is a First 5 ServiceCorps VISTA serving with the Community Assistance Network as part of the Building Healthy Communities Initiative. You can reach him at 707-464-9190 ext 117, or mwaddle@canbless.org.

A New Count of Homeless Set for Saturday

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Donations are sought for items to be given
by Kelley Atherton, Del Norte Triplicate

The Del Norte Homeless Prevention Alliance will conduct another count of the area’s homeless population Saturday.

 A count done in January uncovered some surprising statistics about the homeless in Del Norte, including far higher percentages of homeless women and children than the national average.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses the data, but locally it’s used to help local organizations try to prevent homelessness and help those in need.

“For us, as a community, and for the alliance, it gives us a concrete picture of what the homeless situation looks like so we can make strategic decisions,” said Kendra Howerton, the deputy director of the Community Assistance Network (CAN).

The Del Norte Homeless Prevention Alliance is a group of individuals, agencies and businesses. The data quantifies the problem, but learning how people became homeless can help the group develop ways to prevent homelessness, Howerton said.

A station will be set up at the Arts and Crafts Building of the Del Norte County Fairgrounds from 8–11 a.m. to provide food, hygiene products and information about services to homeless people. Information about individuals will be collected there.

Volunteers are needed to help with the event. Anyone interested can contact Connor Caldwell at ccaldwell@canbless.org This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 464-9190.

Donations can also be made to help with the count, including money that will go toward rental costs and supplies, such as paper, and hygiene products including adult-sized socks, soap, toothbrushes, new or gently-used blankets and coats that will be given out to people.

To donate, send money or items to the Community Assistance Network at 355 Standard Veneer Road. Drop-offs can be made Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The initial count done in January involved volunteers canvassing the area and a station at the fairgrounds that offered food and hygiene products to people. 

Although it won’t involve canvassing, Saturday’s count will provide a comparison to the January count to see if the number of homeless differs in the fall compared to the winter, Howerton said.

There’s no funding to conduct the homeless count, Howerton said, calling it “completely a grass-roots effort.”

By participating in the official homeless count held nationally every year at the end of January, communities can apply for federal funding to work on the homeless problem locally.

According to the surveys done in January, 191 people reported being homeless. To be considered homeless, these people did not have permanent housing at that time, which means they could be sleeping outside or staying at a friend or family member’s house.

About 40 percent of the homeless here were children, while nationwide, about 23 percent of the homeless are children.

There are also proportionately more women in Del Norte that are homeless compared to national statistics: 46 percent locally versus 23 percent nationwide.

Howerton said it was striking  that about 50 percent of people who were considered homeless had jobs, but they aren’t paid enough to support their families. The survey also found that 63 percent of those homeless people have lived in Del Norte longer than five years, so the majority are not transients, she said.

“They’ve been here for a while,” Howerton said. “They are our community, our neighbors.”

Community Garden Grows

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Breanne Sorrells of Open Door Community Health Centers, far right, introduces conference attendees to the new community garden at the Del Norte Wellness Center during a community gardens tour. Submitted.

Breanne Sorrells of Open Door Community Health Centers, far right, introduces conference attendees to the new community garden at the Del Norte Wellness Center during a community gardens tour. Submitted

by Anna Glore, special to Del Norte Triplicate

A community gardening conference called “Healthy Starts: Growing Garden Communities,” was organized Sept. 23 by the Community Assistance Network, the Del Norte Community Health Clinic and the Del Norte Healthcare District.

The event was sponsored by the Community Clinics Initiative (CCI), a joint project of Tides and The California Endowment, that is also supporting the on-going development of the community garden and playground at the Wellness Center.

CCI grantees from as far away as San Diego joined local community gardeners for a day of learning and sharing about gardening and building garden communities.

The conference offered 10 sessions showcasing the knowledge and experience of community gardeners from Del Norte, Humboldt and Curry counties. Our presenters covered topics from school gardens to aquaponics to planning your garden and menus together.

Joe Gillespie talked about his 18 years of gardening at Crescent Elk Middle School. Erin Derden-Little, Humboldt County’s Farm to School coordinator, taught us how to add wonder to children’s gardens. Jennifer Ewing, a garden instructor from Port Orford, provided a hands-on demonstration of raised bed gardening techniques — including real slug control!

At the end of the day, participants toured school and community gardens in and around Crescent City and met with gardeners at each site. Participants were impressed by our gardens, which is a credit to the gardeners who work hard to grow healthy food for their families at all Crescent City community gardens.

Our local sponsors helped everyone feel welcome, with products donated by OrganicEssence, Eco-Nutrients, Open Door Community Health Centers, the North Coast Clinics Network, North Coast Growers Association, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and the American Community Gardening Association.

Meals were provided by Bar-O Boys Ranch, Good Harvest, and Vita Cucina.

Our weather mostly cooperated, out-of-town participants loved stepping out of Oceanfront Lodge’s conference room directly onto our beautiful beach, and everyone left with a very positive view of Crescent City.

Crescent City a ‘wonderful host community’

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by Angela Glore, Director of Food Programs, for Del Norte Triplicate

I am writing to thank Crescent City for being a wonderful host community recently. Community Assistance Network, the Del Norte Healthcare District, and Open Door Community Health Centers organized a two-day community gardening conference called Healthy Starts: Growing Garden Communities on Sept. 23 and 24. Participants came from as far south as San Diego and as far north as Port Orford.

Visitors raved about our beautiful coast, viewed from the conference and hotel rooms at Oceanfront Lodge. They loved the food provided by Bar-O Boys Ranch, Good Harvest and Vita Cucina. Our weather, though difficult for some of the air travelers on Thursday, Sept. 22, was beautiful, and a welcome respite for those coming from southern California’s heat.

Participants left happy, well-fed, and with new tools to make their community gardens grow stronger and better. They also left with local products! We included lip balm from Organic Essence and fish and kelp soil amendment samples from Eco-Nutrients, two Crescent City companies at the forefront of organic, sustainable product development. Other local (and national) sponsors helped us make our guests feel welcome, too, with products from the North Coast Clinics Network, North Coast Growers Association, Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the American Community Gardening Association. The overall event sponsor was the Community Clinics Initiative, a joint project of Tides and The California Endowment. We are grateful that they trusted us to organize the conference and bring many of their grantees to Del Norte County.

Thank you to everyone who made our event so successful and wonderful for our participants. Crescent City was showcased beautifully from beginning to end and gained some new fans.