Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Food bank traces farm-to-fork trend

Published: Thursday, May. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 2, 2013 - 8:20 am

Most food banks still depend on grocery store handouts comprised largely of processed food, but for several years now, Blake Young has been leading a farm-to-fork revolution at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

The region's poorest residents now receive its freshest bounty because Young forged partnerships with distributors such as General Produce and growers such as Capay Organic, Durst Organic Growers and Soil Born Farms.

Young didn't go completely hat in hand, though. He offered to pay for a little of the produce.

"We provide about $5.5 million worth of food annually, and we spend perhaps 175 grand," said Young, the president and chief executive of the nonprofit agency. "Fifty percent of the foods that we distribute are produce, fruits and vegetables, of which three-quarters come from local farms. We play a unique role in farm-to-fork. We're actually creating markets for small farms and introducing folks that traditionally don't buy produce.'"

To support the farm-to-fork mission, Young is raising funds to add refrigerated storage and build an outdoor demonstration kitchen. Food is distributed at farmers market events with nutrition education, recipe cards, tastings and health screenings.

The food bank also planted a demonstration garden at its Oak Park campus to teach gardening. If you don't live in poverty but want to learn for free, join Young's legion of 5,400 volunteers and ask to work in the garden. Orientations are planned for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at 2469 Rio Linda Blvd. in North Sacramento and 5 p.m. May 22 at 3333 Third Ave. in Oak Park.

A panorama for moms

In a little over a year, a friend or relative may tell you she's delivering her baby at the Anderson Lucchetti Women's and Children's Center in midtown Sacramento.

Be sure to visit mom and baby while they're still in the hospital. And, before you step into the room, remind yourself to make a bigger fuss over mom's new bundle of joy than you do over her sweeping views of the City of Trees, a feature of the 50 or so postpartum rooms on the eighth floor.

"Mom won't be here for very long, but while she's here, she's got a great view of the Capitol over here and the Sierra Nevada on the other side," said Larry Maas, assistant administrator for Sutter Health's expansion project.

Sutter's staff will set up shop in the $300 million women's and children's center starting in February, if everything remains on schedule, and the first patients will be admitted by summer of 2014.

A wrench, not a scalpel

Born with one arm shorter than the other, Ray Jenkins heard about a state vocational rehabilitation program that would pay to train him for a job.

Asked what he wanted to be, Jenkins had a ready reply: "A brain surgeon."

When the counselor told him the state wouldn't pay for that, he settled on a second choice: motorcycle mechanic. The state paid half his salary for a year or so until he learned his trade.

"The first job was a nightmare," Jenkins recalled. "It was an RD Yamaha two-stroke road bike that had one of the gears bad in the transmission, and I'd never gotten that involved before, so I was bluffing my way into this job, and the owner knew it. He says, 'Hey, you said you were a mechanic. Fix it.' "

After a week and a half, Jenkins thought he might give up the whole idea of being a mechanic, but providence struck and the parts fell into place and it worked. By 1974, Jenkins had built up the experience he needed to go into business with a partner at Ray's Cycle Tune on Alhambra Boulevard in Sacramento.

After a year, he bought the business. Nearly 40 years later, Jenkins has decided to retire at age 62. He'll still do a little shade-tree mechanic work, but Cycle Tune will close within a month.

Call The Bee's Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow him on Twitter @cathiea_sacbee.

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