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Food for thought: County employees raise 8 tons of food for Community Food Bank

Displays used canned items to send powerful messages about hunger in Alameda County

With its prominent pop culture references and incorporated commercial items, this year’s Alameda County Stone Soup Food Drive and Design Competition could have been mistaken for an Andy Warhol art exhibit.

A classic portrait of famous musician John Lennon sporting his signature round-rimmed glasses and a nearly life-size Iron Throne from the “Game of Thrones” TV series were among the elaborate displays that 16 county employee teams built for the sixth annual contest using donated cans, sacks and boxes of non-perishable food items.

Each year, county employees raise and donate thousands of pounds of food to the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which feeds about one out of every five Alameda County residents. The teams reflected the competition themes of hunger and helping others in their displays, and showed their creativity was anything but canned.

The Board of Supervisors’ display, “Imagine Vision 2026,” which depicted Lennon’s face above the title of his music masterpiece “Imagine," won the Leadership Award. The winning installation “calls on the community to imagine a future in which Alameda County realizes the key goals of its long-term Strategic Vision, called Vision 2026,” county representatives said in a press release.

The Best Recipe Award was shared by the county Administrator’s Office and the Public Works Agency after obtaining both the highest combined judges scores for creativity and food and cash donated.

Going with “what it knows best,” public works designed a street sweeper complete with rotating brooms that urges people to “sweep away the problem of hunger in Alameda County,” while admin staff highlighted Vision 2026 and the six 10x Goals established by the county to support local communities.

Winning the Chef’s Award for the “inspirational use of food donations and creativity”, the District Attorney’s Office display, “Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow,” encourages youths to stay in school and reach their dreams. Not to be usurped, the Information Technology Department also staked claim on the same prize with its Iron Throne installation, “Hunger is No Game--Food is Coming.”

Social Services and the Auditor-Controller’s Office also shared the Most Creative Award for their displays titled “Fab Five Food Superheroes” and “Let’s Rise Up to End Hunger,” respectively. The entries were awarded with “the highest scores for creativity and imaginative quality,” earning both teams the prize.

More than eight tons of food and over $13,000 cash were contributed to the Alameda County Community Food Bank, equating to nearly $100,000 worth of food. Every $1 donated can be converted into $7 worth of healthy food items.

This year marks the first time that the drive has taken place outside of the holiday season; the food bank “typically finds it especially difficult to provide food for hungry residents during the first months of the year, after receiving an annual surge of donations during the holidays," officials said.

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