A New Surplus

Yellow summer squash is almost as abundant as zucchini.

Felton is certainly no place to go hungry in. The generosity here can be a bit overwhelming at times. Surplus of perishable food that must be frozen almost exceeds the capacity of the freezers that we use. Some of the non perishable food gets transferred to a somewhat well stocked pantry where it is shared with anyone in the Community who wants it, regardless of need.

Food distribution between 11:00 and noon on Thursday at Community Bridges still helps by providing more variety of food, but what is procured is shared amongst more significant groups. Some of us take what we get to share with those we work with, because some have not been working as much as they typically do lately. Nonetheless, there is still sometimes a bit of surplus.

Now, there is about to be a little bit more. The vegetable plants that some of us started in various small garden plots have been producing a few minor vegetables, and are just about to start producing more significantly. Even vegetable plants that got started late are catching up with a normal schedule now that days are longer and the weather is warming. It is that time of year.

Frequent harvest of zucchini promotes continual production.

Unfortunately, there could be a slight increase in the need for this minor bit of surplus at about the same time that it becomes available. So many in the Community who rely on tourism and associated industries for revenue will be earning less than normal during what should be the busiest season. Although more can return to work now, fewer tourists can afford to spend much.

Diminished revenue limits any expenditure on the necessities of life. A few of those who are so very generous to us might now benefit from the minor surplus that they helped us to generate.

To enhance production, a few bits of corn tassel will get snipped to dust the silks.

Reallocation

Food Distribution at Community Bridges, which most of us still know as Mountain Community Resources, or simply MCR, is still the most reliable and most abundant source of food for those who need it. It continues to operate between 11:00 a.m. and noon on Thursdays, although the procedure for retrieving food has changed to comply with social distancing.

Participants are unable to wait in queue to select the particular produce, canned food and dry goods they desire from tables that are stocked with what is available. Instead, volunteers assemble packages containing an assortment of what is available, and then load them into vehicles as they drive through the parking lot. It is significantly more effort, but effective.

There are less of us who lack homes and need to obtain food from Food Distribution than there has been in a very long time. However, there are a few more who benefit form this resource, but do not lack homes. The demographics have changes somewhat, but Food Distribution had been as popular as it ever was.

More recently, it has become even more popular. So many otherwise lucratively employed people have been unemployed for a month. Some will remain unemployed for a while longer. Many are without income while unemployed, so are unable to afford some of what was so easily obtainable only a few weeks ago. Food Distribution is nothing fancy, but it helps.

Food Distribution volunteers have always been very generous with surpluses of produce and perishable food items after participants have obtained what they can use. Those who had use for it took large volumes of it for canning or freezing, or for smaller volumes of it to be refrigerated for those who lack homes or refrigeration. What was leftover went to goats and swine.

The incentive to take significant volumes of surpluses to distribute to those who lack refrigeration has been diminishing for quite some time. Now, there is suddenly more incentive to take surpluses to those who had no prior use for it.

Because the various food items are divided somewhat evenly as they are packaged by volunteers, there are no large volumes of surpluses remaining after Food Distribution. Even if there were minor surpluses, they can not be obtained without violating social distancing standards, although volunteers might offer them to those who often take them.

However, the packages of food typically contain more than what some of us need. Rather than deliver what we do not need directly to those who can use it, some of us have been leaving it out where they can get it later, but hopefully where animals do not get to it first.

Social Distancing

While so many of those with homes to go home to are not out socializing, social distancing should be easier for the rest of us. In many regards it is. Although some who lack homes live within very minimal proximity of others in the same situation, the innate crowding is no worse than it is for families with children living in the same home. Some have dispersed to avoid socializing.

Of course, because of the difficulty of storing food, most of those who lack kitchens must still shop for food more frequently than most. Some manage to store a bit more than typical, in order to avoid shopping. Some are even consuming more of the edible but undesirable vegetation that grows wildly along the roads. It is better for stinging nettle to be harvested from trails anyway.

It is amazing that both Felton Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Catholic Church continue to serve lunch. Felton Presbyterian Church serves lunch right around noon on Tuesday, starting a bit earlier and continuing a bit later so that a large group does not need to arrive at the same time. Saint John’s Catholic Church serves lunch between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The most important stipulation is that bagged lunches are served to go only. No one can stay to eat. The hours from which lunch is served at Saint John’s Catholic Church are abbreviated for now as well, starting half an hour later, and ending an hour and a half earlier. Of course that can change. Those preparing lunches for us really should be isolating at home, not out socializing.

Even with all that is going on in Felton and the rest of the World, it is amazing that the Community continues to provide for those who need it most.

Chili Cook Off

The Sixth Annual San Lorenzo Valley Chili Cook Off yesterday at Felton Covered Bridge Park was a fund raiser hosted by Felton Library Friends to benefit the new Felton Library and Nature Discovery Park. That is why tasting kits that were needed to participate were sold for $5. All of those $5 charges were collectively the funds that the fund raiser raised.

Of course, there was much more to it than that. No one would have attended if it was just about collecting funds. It was about a good time, with food, beverages and live music. A dozen or so chili chefs competed for prizes. Local business donated even more prizes for a raffle later in the day.

Contestants, volunteers and just about everyone who attends such events knows how to have a good time. $5 is a trivial charge to participate. Not many who pay put much though into it as contribution to fund raising. Procurement of resources for the Felton Library and Nature Discovery Park is very important, but so is doing the event right.

For several, doing the event right entailed including those who had neither the intention of participating, nor the minimal resources to do so. They delivered several and various bowls of chili to a few of us who were gathered at the picnic table closest to the parking lot. That is being seriously Community oriented!

I know this is not the best picture of a bunch of empty bowls and a few that I snatched from those who were still eating out of them, but it shows the variety of the chili. These were not contributed by one chef who wanted to lighten his load of leftovers, but from at least six different chefs. There were more empty bowls that had already been discarded.

San Lorenzo Valley & Scott’s Valley Meal and Food Programs – September 2019

This updated list was printed and distributed last Tuesday at Luncheon at Felton Presbyterian Church, which is listed here as ‘Free Lunch Tuesday’. This list is likely more comprehensive than any of us need it to be, since almost all of us can procure more than what we need without ever leaving Felton. Nonetheless, for those who may find it useful, the list is posted verbatim:

San Lorenzo Valley & Scott’s Valley Meal and Food Programs

September 2019

Tuesdays through Saturdays (also 4th Mondays). Valley Churches United, Food Pantry and Food Distribution programs. Tues – Thurs 9 – 11:45 and Saturday 10 – 11:45. 1st and 3rd Fridays 9 – 11 are for seniors only. USDA Distribution on 4th Monday 10 – 1. For SLV, Scotts Valley, and Bonny Doon residents. Ben Lomond, corner of Highway 9 across from Ben Lomond Market, 336-8258.

Tuesdays, noon. Felton Presbyterian Church, 6090 Highway 9, across fro Rite-Aid, 335-6900. “Free Lunch Tuesday

Tuesdays, 2:30 – 6:30. Felton Farmers’ Market, Hwy 9 and Russell. Up to $10 matched when customers use their Cal Fresh (EBT/SNAP) cards. The extra money must be used for fresh produce at the market. (May – Oct)

Wednesdays, 12 – 2. San Agustin Catholic Church, 257 Glenwood Dr. Scotts Valley (next to the fire station). 438 3633. Food Distribution.

Thursdays, 10:30 – 1:30 (doors open 9:00 – 3:00). St. John’s Catholic Church, down from Rite-Aid, Highway 9 and Russell, Felton. 335-4657 . “Thursday Lunch.”

Thursdays, 11 – 12. Mountain Community Resources (a Community Bridges program), 6134 Highway 9, across from Rite Aid, Felton 335-6600 Food Distribution.

Thursdays, 5:00 – 6:30, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 5271 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley. 438-4360 Food Distribution.

Fridays, 5 – 5:30 p.m.. GateWay Bible Church, 5000 Granite Creek Road, Scotts Valley, CA 95066. 438-0646. “Fridays at Five” food distribution.

Sunday, September 29, 2:00 SS Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, 9980 Highway 9, Ben Lomond, north of town, 336-2228. Dinner.

Meals on Wheels (a Community Bridges program), hot meals at dining centers in Ben Lomond (M-F, 336-5366) and Scotts Valley (Wednesdays, 438-8666). Reservations required, $2.50 requested donation, for age 60+ (limited exceptions). Meals delivered if eligible, 464-3180.

Grey Bears Brown Bag Program, weekly bag of produce to be picked up in Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Felton or Scotts Valley. Delivery available for homebound seniors. $30 annual membership fee, for age 55+. www.greybears.org (479-1055).

Except as noted, all programs are free of charge – Schedules are subject to change.

Submit Changes/Additions to slvsvmeals@gmail.com

(Please note that dinner on Sunday [September 29] at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church is not a recurring event, although other dinners will be scheduled later.)

Generosity

Felton is no place to go hungry. There is too much generosity and abundance for that. Those of us who need more produce than we can afford might get the rest of what we need from ‘Food Distribution‘. Neighbors and local stores regularly bring surpluses to the homeless. There is very often excess that must be taken and stored by those of us with freezers and refrigerators.

The big pile of goods that was delivered to the Graham Hill Road Bridge over Zayante Creek almost two weeks ago has not yet been completely distributed to those who can use it. It will most certainly be distributed as the message that was delivered with it instructed. It will just take a bit more time for such a generous contribution. It included so much more than groceries!

Clothing and bedding are often donated to those who can use them. They are not perishable like fresh groceries are. In fact, there is presently some minor clothing and a little bit of bedding in storage. Recently, someone who was emptying out a barn brought a pickup full of bicycles to Felton Covered Bridge Park for anyone who could use one. Yes, the generosity is astounding!

That is not even the total extent of it! (But wait! There’s more!) People sometimes seek out the unemployed around town, whom they can hire for odd jobs around the farm or home. On rare occasion, some are offered more permanent jobs. Over the past many years, a few of the homeless here have even been offered temporary shelter until they found more permanent homes.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by such generosity. Many of us were generous when we had resources to share with the less fortunate. Besides, we all know what sort of Community Felton is.

Trendsetters

Fashion trendsetters we are not. Some of us wear clothing that was donated by others partly because it was no longer in style. We take what we can get.

Nor do we start trends of electronics technology. Most of us are satisfied with the basics, or none at all.

Most of us are not at all interested in keeping up with the trends that others indulge in.

Yet, somehow, we inadvertently started a culinary trend that we probably should have kept as our secret.

Black elderberry had already become a culinary and medicinal fad. It started with medicinal black elderberry products, such as herbal extracts and tinctures, to stimulate the immune system. From there, black elderberry tea, syrup, candy and (cooked) juice were popularized as more culinarily appealing options for exploiting the health benefits of this rediscovered fruit. Even old fashioned products made from the flowers became trendy.

All the while, the black elderberries that these products were made from came almost exclusively from eastern North America and Europe, within or somewhere close to regions that they are naturally native to. Black elderberry plants that are grown for fruit production are quarantined from import into California.

No one seemed to notice the native blue elderberries that grow wild here. Well, no one noticed until our blue elderberry jelly started wining ribbons annually at the Jelly & Jam Competition of the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival several years ago. Winning ribbons was no big deal when there were only a few entries, but it did bring attention to the formerly ignored native blue elderberries.

Suddenly, blue elderberries are getting harvested so thoroughly that it is not so easy to get enough to make jelly for the Jelly & Jam Competition this autumn. Besides jelly, people are making syrup, wine and even a distilled brandy like concoction from them. We can only hope that fermentation of the wine denatures the toxins of the raw juice like cooking does. (Raw elderberries are toxic.)

Those who had invited some of us to collect berries from their properties in the past are finding that the berries are getting collected by neighbors before we can get to them. After seeing the berries ignored for as long as anyone can remember, the neighbors are not likely aware that blue elderberries are now in demand. Fortunately, we have multiple sources, and we do not need many.

Food Distribution

No one goes hungry here. Many of us live in poverty. Our lifestyles would be considered to be substandard to most. Yet, we have it pretty good. The generosity of our Community is astounding! Not only is there plenty of food available, but some of it is abundant enough for those with kitchens to can and freeze some of it.

We know how fortunate we are. Not all Communities have the resources to be so generous.

Some of the food that we get is donated by local supermarkets and stores. Sushi that is leftover from the day before gets delivered to Felton Covered Bridge Park a few mornings through the week. It may not be much, but it is often more than enough for the few there to take it. Bags of bakery items do not arrive as frequently as they used to, just because it got to be so overwhelming. Sometimes, there are a few fruits and vegetables.

Neighbors bring surplus food too. Some of it is just canned and dry goods that are getting close to their expiration dates. Some is surplus produce from home gardens and fruit trees. Leftovers from parties and barbecues are always nice!

The most reliable and most abundant source of food is the ‘Food Distribution’ between 11:00 a.m. and noon every Thursday at Community Bridges, which most of us know as Mountain Community Resources, or simply, MCR. Much of the produce there is surplus or culls from local farms. Some canned and dry goods are just getting too old for stores to sell. Of course, there is never a shortage of bread that must be cycled out.

It is unfortunate that there are so many in our Community who can not afford sufficient food. However, it is gratifying that no one goes hungry.