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Helping Fund the Pantry -- The CROP Walk

(By Elizabeth J. Carlisle)

A significant source of our Pantry funding, the CROP Walk has a long and fascinating history. CROP (the Christian Rural Overseas Program) was begun as a local grass roots fundraiser in 1947 to help mid-western farmers share their crops. CROP operated in both the United States and Canada, but the first official Walk to raise money and awareness was held in 1969 in Bismarck, ND. That Walk raised over $25,000, with over 1,000 participants.

Since that early beginning, the Walk has expanded to over 1,300 locations. The first San Fernando Valley Walk was held in 1976 in Northridge. The Walk has a volunteer coordinator typically sponsored by a church or temple.

This year is the Valley's 42nd Walk. Walk Coordinator Dianne Delaney from Church of the Chimes, Sherman Oaks has participated in Walks since she was in 7th grade! The Valley has averaged 100 to 150 walkers each year for the last 5 years.

Church World Services receives CROP Walk funds from throughout the nation. Internationally, funds are used to drill wells, teach crop improvement methods, supply food and water, and teach self-sufficiency methods. But a full 25% of all funds raised are returned to the local venue. In our area the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council receives the 25% of funds returned to the Valley. These funds are distributed to three major food pantries: West Valley Food Pantry (Woodland Hills); North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry (Studio City); and SOVA (Sustenance, Opportunity, Volunteerism, Advocacy) Jewish Family Services Community Food and Resource Program Valley Pantry (Van Nuys).

In 2016 each of these food pantries received $1,225, and for 2017, each will receive $1,445. Over the 42 years of the Walk in the Valley, supporters have raised $846,787. And that's a lot of peanut butter, folks! Our sincere thanks to all the organizers, all the walkers and all the supporters for your heartfelt and generous support.

How Does Our Garden Grow

(By Tedi Mae Tortolano)

Sometime around 2010, the idea to start a small garden on the vast expanse of land surrounding the Prince of Peace church property began in a collaborated effort between Elizabeth Hart and Barbara Partridge funded by a donation of money from the Rev. Dr. William Turner Levy (whose name appears above the garden gate). "It became an Eagle scout project with the Boy Scouts building raised beds and three waist-high containers Barbara Partridge in the Community Garden to lessen the amount of back strain on the gardeners. Also two compost containers so that good nutrients can be added to the beds", explains Garden Manager Barbara Partridge.

Motivated by her love of nature, the garden project gave Barbara the opportunity to pursue and expand on her interest in gardening. In the desire to provide fresh veggies, "so that Food Pantry clients can maintain a healthy diet", Barbara is "trying to get a small cookbook together" to raise funds. She continues, "Elizabeth passed away three years ago, leaving a small legacy to keep the garden going. This fund is dwindling now, and we need to find a way that we can purchase plants for the future".

The winter crops include lettuce, arugula, cabbage, beets, snap peas, and herbs. The spring plantings include tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, and other varieties of squash. Gathering from the garden is done on Mondays and Wednesdays to supplement produce that is brought in from donor markets. "We appreciate volunteer help to pick on the off days, and we're always looking for suggestions --- things to plant that will be of benefit to the Pantry." Groups and/or individuals are welcome to participate in the garden/orchard project both to raise funds and by volunteering to harvest produce.

John Arnold in the Orchard The Levy Community Garden is flanked by rows of fruit trees. "An unexpected gift of 120 fruit trees arrived from the Episcopal Bishop's downtown office about six years ago", relates Arborist John Arnold. An irrigation system was installed, and the POP orchard began with the planting of peach, pear, plum and nectarine trees. Regular trimming, pruning, and watering are but a part of the nurturing care to which John devotes ten hours a week of his time. Planted in profusion up on the hillside is a variety of 100 non-fruit-bearing trees that require maintenance as well. John urges, "Bring us your lawn's grass clippings --- it makes good mulch".

You can join in this ongoing labor of love that culminates with the gratifying task of reaping the harvest of fruit for the Food Pantry. To volunteer your needed assistance please contact the Prince of Peace office to reach Barbara Partridge or John Arnold.

February 2018 Community Health Fair

(By Ruth Denburg Yoshiwara)

Free haircuts, blood pressure and blood sugar readings were available for the attendees of the free Community Health Fair presented by West Valley Food Pantry at Prince of Peace Church on Saturday, February 3rd. Attendees could make appointments February Health Fair with various providers to follow up with dental exams, HIV testing, mental health resources, Hepatitis A vaccine, mammogram appointments, or hearing tests.

The event was sponsored by Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, a well known champion of the Pantry and of helping the homeless. The service providers, which included but were not limited to dentists, veterans' organizations, mental health providers and agencies, and health care centers, were all eager to help and share their information. Some of the organizations offer free services, but many would require some insurance coverage or some payment, possibly at discount, at follow up appointments at their offices.

Information was offered about food programs such as WIC and CalFresh, county DPSS benefits, and services for women such as free mammography and cancer education. Brochures were offered in English and Spanish and bilingual speakers offered their expertise at many tables. One could register to be an organ, eye or and tissue donor. Corporate sponsors included Walgreens and Providence Health and Services. Door prizes were given and a bicycle raffle conducted.

This was the third year the Pantry co-sponsored a free health fair. It is hoped the event will be held annually and that the number of participants, both providers and consumers, will increase. Be sure to spread the word next year! (More photos in the Home page slide show.)

Emergency Food Assistance Program

(By Ruth Denburg Yoshiwara)

The West Valley Food Pantry receives food donations from Ralphs, Trader Joe's, Smart and Final, and Sprouts markets, but did you know we also receive food that originates from the Federal government? Pantry volunteers usually know this as EFAP food or emergency food. In our Pantry, EFAP food includes dried milk, rice, beans, canned tuna, packaged macaroni and cheese, oatmeal and canned soup and canned vegetables. Fresh produce is notably absent from this program.

EFAP is the acronym for the Emergency Food Assistance Program. It is a Federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. It provides food and administrative funds to states to supplement the diets of these groups. The program, first authorized in 1981, was designed primarily to help reduce Federal food inventories while also assisting the low-income population.

Food is distributed to public or private nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to low-income Americans, either through the distribution of food for home use or the preparation of meals. In Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank receives EFAP food and passes it on to various food pantries, including WVFP. Recipient organizations must determine household eligibility by applying income standards set by their State. Only households that meet the income criteria may receive food for home use. Pantry volunteers that sign up new clients are familiar with the chart showing the income criteria for this program.

WVFP takes the emergency part of the Emergency Food Assistance Program moniker quite literally. If our clients ask for food, even if they have not waited the customary (and required) week or month since their last visit, we will always offer them EFAP food. No one should have to leave us hungry or empty handed!