Food Drive Tips

This weekend is the Stamp Out Hunger , letter carriers food drive. 

Here are some tips to make your donations go as far as possible: 

Food Drive tips

It may be awhile before your food is sorted so please donate items that do not need to be refrigerated before being given out.

Breakable items tend to break and squishable items like bread had to get squished so make sure your packaging is sturdy.

You might love sardines and other Specialty Foods, but we don’t know what the people who are receiving the food will like. Common and traditional food are the best donations because they can  be given out to most anyone.

Donating things may make you feel really great and it is a good opportunity to clean out your cabinets of food that you fight but me never eat. With that in mind, please check the expiration dates on your food because we cannot donate food that has already expired.

MEND Gala Wrap Up

Every well run fundraiser is well planned. Sometime in September the lights stay on for late Wednesday evening meetings at the MEND center on San Fernando.


I have never been a “lady who lunches”, instead I am a “lady who grabs my kid from daycare, zooms through McDonald’s and rushes up a flight of stairs to kiss 25 faces before sitting down and starting kindergarten homework while the meeting starts”. It is not glamorous, or well executed, but it is how I roll.

How the Committee works

Despite how I perform as a Gala member, everyone else comes with pens and notepads and ideas. We have been doing this for seven years and tiny factions have formed. People gravitate to tasks like solicitation, public relations, auction items and volunteer recruitment the ways that bees pollinate their favorite flowers.

Bigger issues such as ticket prices, Board Member engagement, entertainment, production features and suggestions for growth are openly and freely debated.  There are laughs and sometimes there is wine.

Starting in December the meetings go from monthly to weekly.  We say MEND’s mission statement, discuss dollars, order favors (thanks Aimee who hated me in highschool but comes through for MEND and me every year at AB_Unlimited), bond over our love of Mr. Urbano from Universal Studios and get ready for the big event.

The day before the Gala we load up a large truck with supplies and I pretend that I know how to create lovely silent auction baskets while my daughter plays with the COO’s kid. MEND is a family friendly affair for staff and volunteers alike on the weekends.

Family affair  – Mr Kelly, and Carrie’s son and his dancing lady friend. (I borrowed this photo from Facebook)

By 11 am on Gala day the committee is assembling table decorations, setting everything up, wandering around in curlers and eventually laughing in the ladies room as we fix zippers, share lipstick and discuss slips and shoes. (I gave my shoes to my friend Tarry who used to be a MEND employee and now volunteers.)  We are our  own special sorority. Sometimes silly, always serious about our goal.

Where does the money go?

This is the only big fundraiser MEND has all year.  MEND’S budget has two great needs: homeless services and Medical Dispensing.  MEND has a great Diabetic program with specialized food boxes, nursing, education and blood testing & Insulin. Insulin saves lives and it is hard for us to put a price-tag on it – but the manufacturers have managed to do that and MEND pays so that we can give the medication to clients in need.

Thank you Heritage Provider Network and other generous donors.

The funds raised at the GALA are the operations budget, the orphaned program funds for homeless services, showers, the Diabetic program and all the wonderful and needed programs that are not glamorous enough to attract other directed donations. Sure, there is food and music, and a great show on television combined with an awesome MC from ABC7 each year (This year we had Sid Garcia; in previous  years Danny Romero served) .

As committee members we are COMMITTED members to supporting this oasis of help in a desert of need.

How do we know if we have done our job well?

This is what happens when an Analyst is your Committee Chairperson.

Robin, Victoria,Steve and Susan watching the analysis
Every well run fundraiser is well planned. This is what happens when an Analysist is your Committee Chairperson.
Yasmin Serrato explains the success and areas of improvement to Pablo and Rita

If you look in the window you can see a reflection of a computer spreadsheet that is being projected from the television. Yasmin is walking us through comparisons to previous years and taking notes. We are always giving feedback.

There is always magic in giving. Victoria gave Darla a wand from Universal Studios where our gala is held.

My youngest daughter has been on the committee for the past six years, and she has made some lifelong (6 years that is) friendships and connections that only enforce my love for MEND. The people behind the scenes are as passionately in love with the goals as the staff and day to day volunteers. Now we go through the long hiatus of waiting for Fall to begin again.

While we wait, think about joining us. We have food, and the occasional cookie, and so much fuzzy fun. If there is something you want to donate to our auctions, let me know because it is tax deductible.

I Need a New T-shirt . . .

AKA – if you donate to @MENDpoverty and tell them I sent you : I can have a new shirt and your TAX Deductible donation will be Doubled! Don’t feel you have to break the bank – even a $2 donation is cool with me.

Write my name on the screen
this is where you say my name . you can write my name, or website, or just “Tell Sonya Hello!”
Please help us reach our year end goal by donating to MEND! Refer four

friends from now until June 30th to give a total of $100 and win a limited edition t-shirt designed by our friends at Big Citizen HUB.

Remember that any donation we receive by June 30th will be doubled, thanks to a matching gift by a generous donor!
Join us in breaking the bonds of poverty and paving a pathway to self-reliance for our neighbors in need.

For an even better time, you can write things like ” I love Tarry ”  ( she is in charge of fundraising ) , “Scott looks great in a tie ” ( he is the math wiz doing the budgets ) or something else fun.

To End Poverty, we need to Mend Poverty. We can meet each need with dignity!”

Pacoima Food Pantries

Note: Pantry distribution dates and times are subject to change. Please call the pantry to verify that this information is current. Most pantries serve according to geographical service area. Food pantry clients should bring photo identification with them to the pantry. The identification should show client’s current residential address. Some pantries have an application process and ask clients for documents supporting income. However, all clients will be served the first time regardless of completion of application and service area.
Total 4 pantries found.
1. Cornerstone Christian Ministry
11449 Sproule Avenue
Pacoima,  91331
Distribution Time: Thursday 9:00:00 AM 10:00:00 AM
2. Eliza Shanks Homes, Inc.
13055 Weidner Street
Pacoima,  91331
Distribution Time: Monday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Tuesday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Wednesday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Thursday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Friday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Friday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM 4th
3. Meet Each Need with Dignity – MEND
10641 San Fernando Road
Pacoima,  91331
Distribution Time: Tuesday 8:00:00 AM 2:00:00 PM
Thursday 8:00:00 AM 2:00:00 PM
Friday 8:00:00 AM 2:00:00 PM
Saturday 9:00:00 AM 12:00:00 PM
4. Valley Crossroads SDA Church
11350 Glenoaks Blvd.
Pacoima,  91331
Distribution Time: Saturday 2:30:00 PM 4:00:00 PM 2nd & 4th

Pacoima , Facebook, and a man on the streets


Homelessness is real  a nd affects everyone. Here, in Pacoima, this man is a fixture on a local street. The Facebook group for the neighborhood is learning the worst of all truths about homelessness: there is no easy cure.

There are no available shelter beds.
We can’t find a place for him to sleep
MEND doesn’t open for Homeless services until Tuesday.

211 has been called.
LAHSA has been called.
Foothill Police Division has been called.

He us still on the street.

The wonderful people here have brought him food and clothes and kept him company.

But even with a whole city behind him :we can’t cure his homelessness.

His name is Jose. I want to know what Jose wants to do. Does he want to be housed? If so, where?

#FoodStampChallenge is worse than a hard level of @CandyCrushSaga

Eating and playing a quick round of Candy Crush are what usually takes up the empty moments in my life. I can do either of them unconsciously – and both set off small burst of serotonin and adrenaline. Read: They make me physically happy and content. Well, happy until you find something like Level 65 on Candy Crush and are stuck there for days, weeks, it seems like forever.

shopping supplies
insulated @thirtyone bag  and coupons and recipe books
Produce First
Produce First – I admit, I had to @Google “pinto beans”

In Candy Crush you have a limited number of moves and sometimes chocolate creeps in and takes over the game board – ruining your chance for success. In the Food Stamp Challenge we have a limited number of dollars and hunger is always creeping in and ruining everything.
Last week: I experienced what happens when a two-year old sees neatly packed single servings of food and fruits that she can access when hungry. Darla ate her way through 3 days of food in a day and a half. Her childish, growth spurt driven hunger is like the annoying chocolate in the game.  Just when you forget it is there, or think you have a plan to address is soon – but not immediately – it takes over and ruins everything.
When I first starting playing Candy Crush – I just played it without learning too much about it. I did the 5 step tutorial at the beginning of the game and then decided I was smart enough to conquer based on my innate brilliance. Stop laughing at me. Somewhere around level thirty I became frustrated and turned to the internet for cheats and tips and tricks. –

Learning to budgeting on Food Stamps is like learning to play Candy Crush Saga. In the beginning you see lots of options. Instead of 40 moves, you have over $300 to buy food and it seems plentiful – overly generous in fact.

So – you take the money and start shopping.
 The first things you purchase are luxury foods, prepackaged, ready to eat, processed foods that won’t take time to prepare. Perhaps you even through deserts into the cart. Seriously, how long until we lose Twinkies again?!?  Next are all the juices (they are fruits, right?) Steak – because it isn’t really your money and so $16 for steak doesn’t hurt your feelings when it is basically free.

And once your cart is half full of every food that takes away your feelings of sequestration , you mentally block meals and days of eating – only to find that nothing in your cart can combine with anything else to constitute a healthy meal. So: back go the Twinkies, muffins, chocolate cake. Back go the sugar infused fruit juices and you can live without the T-bone steak as well … right?
Into your cart go the basics that are only found around the perimeter of the store:

• Bags of fresh fruits and vegetables (oranges, grapes, corn, cauliflower, peppers etc.) • A block of meat that you ask the in-store butcher to slice because it is more affordable per slice than the prepackaged and water logged meats.
• Bread and tortillas • Blocks of cheese (cheaper than bags of pre-shredded)
• Peanut butter • Bulk Chicken chests, packages of ground beef, etc
• Eggs • Salt, pepper, seasoning salt
• Butter • Oatmeal
• Flour • Beans and rice
• Oil • Sugar
• Cream of chicken, or cream of mushroom soups • Pasta
• Tomato paste • milk

And you realize that with these basics you can make tacos, meatloaf, quesadillas, burritos, breakfast, squeeze your own juice. Combining these works in several ways to blast the nutritional roadblocks and flavor blocks you were so afraid would ruin this for you. Using these ingredients you can even make ice-cream.

Screenshot_2013-08-12-11-41-47-picsayIt is like combining a striped candy with a wrapped candy or color bomb. Magically obstacles disappear when you plan your moves ahead of time.
Like Candy Crush Saga, you have to try some levels several times. Unlike the game, once you run out of moves, dollars, meals, or food – you can’t just wait and have more tries gifted to you.

You have to beg for extra lives – which is far more annoying than going to Face Book and hitting up your friends for extra lives or tickets to the next level. This means going to Food Banks for boxes of food pre-chosen by someone else – and sometimes the food is weird or all starches, MEND Poverty makes boxes that are 60% fresh produce, but not all food banks have such good connections to grocery stores or donors whose money can be used to purchase these fruits and vegetables. That means that if your food stamp budget gets blown, your family could be living on Cheerios for over a week.

♥ my insulated shopping bag that kept the frozen items frozen and cold stuff cold as I got lost in the store came from . Tell her Sonya says Hello!

To help fund MEND (meet each need with dignity)’s food bank… go to and look up ” stop summer hunger ” or click: 

How to Ruin Your FoodStamp Budget

costcoMore on my MEND Poverty #Foodstampchallenge to #stopSummerHunger

Well, to begin with, it turns out that since 2009 Costco has accepted the EBT cards as payment in their stores. so YAY. ”

  • Payment
  • • We welcome cash,* checks,* debit/ATM cards,** Costco
  • Cash Cards, Costco Credit Cards**, EBT Cards and
  • American Express Cards.** Checks may require picture
  • identification and approval by a supervisor or manager.
  • * Not accepted at Costco Gas Stations.
  • ** Not accepted at Costco Food Courts.”

On the down side; all the best planning in the world does nothing if you leave a 2 year old home in the care of a 43 year old who lets the 2 year old feed herself out of the refrigerator.

Darla made her way through 2 bananas and 3 baggies of fruit and 3 tubs of precooked meals – thus throwing off my weekly plan. But, we will regroup and stay the course.

I imagine this happens to many households with kids. They grow – they get hungry – they EAT and eat and EAT.