Porchlight Community Services

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.02.54 PM.pngFor those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know that food insecurity is a cause near and dear to my heart.

In San Diego County, one in seven families experience food insecurity. Food insecurity means you’re not sure where your next healthy, nutritious meal is coming from. It means you probably don’t have extra cans in your cupboard, or that you need to be more than just a little creative when it comes to cooking that a few days before payday.

Food insecurity is an issue that I feel very strongly about. No one should be hungry, and no one should have to eat mass-produced, poorly made, food devoid of nutritional just to fill their belly. Quality, nutritious food should be available to anyone and everyone at an affordable price.

That is one reason I am so excited to share with you today about an awesome organization in Linda Vista called Porchlight Community Services.

Porchlight Community Services is different from a lot of other food organizations in that they are a food rescue organization. They work with produce distributors, grocery stores, and bakery to rescue food that is otherwise destined for the dumpster.

Next time you’re at the grocery store take a look at all the fruit, all the produce, all the baked goods. The likelihood of all of those items will sell before their pull date is slim.

So when items are pulled off the shelf prior to their expiration date, they are frequently thrown in the trash. That trash heads to the landfill. Grocery store, bakeries, food distributors do not compost their unwanted food. Food rescue agencies like Porchlight Community Services pick up the food (that is still good, by the way, pull dates are usually arbitrary, and only affect the appearance of the food, not it’s quality or viability). They then take the food back to their offices where it is gone over to make sure that it is still quality, and edible. And it is been distributed to families who support Porchlight Community Services mission.

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.14.09 PM.pngProduce that can not be distributed (it’s leftover at the end of the event), is often donated to neighbors with animals, or local animal organizations. Once again, eliminating food waste and helping others,

Some of the companies that donate to Porchlight Community Services include Ralphs, Boudin Bakery, Wal-Mart, Starry Lane Bakery, and California Produce.

Porchlight Community Services is not your average food bank or pull date co-op. There is no minimum or maximum amount of money your family needs to make to participate. Some people who shop at Porchlight do so because they believe in the mission of keeping food out of landfills (like my family- it hurts my heart to see perfectly good food go to waste). Some people go to Porchlight Community Services because they are in need of wholesome nutritious groceries that fit a specialized diet (like Gluten-free or Dairy-free) but can’t afford to shell out money every week or two for the costly groceries at a mainstream grocery store.  Some people are in a tight spot and need to stretch what little money they have until payday.

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An example of past food items available

Distributions are usually held weekly. You can find out about upcoming events here on their website, or follow them on Facebook.

All funds that are raised go towards paying rent and utilities- to keep the Mission of feeding others going. 

If you are interested in helping Porchlight Community Services, they are always looking for volunteers to help unload food as it comes in on distribution days, organize and stock shelves, refrigerators, and freezers.

They also need help volunteering with event prep- setting up tables and bins.

This might be a good opportunity for girl scout troops or other civic organizations! Contact Porchlight Community Services here to find out about more volunteer opportunities.

 

 

National Night Out- Tomorrow!

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 10.43.32 AM.pngTomorrow, the first Tuesday in August is National Night Out.

Most communities in the US and Canada hold this event. It started in 1984 as a way to increase community awareness about police, safety, and anti-crime programs in communities.

Some communities use this night as a chance to have a festival, carnival, cook-out, or block party.

My local community is having one! Santee and Lakeside are co-hosting an event at Santee Trolley square. If you are looking for your local National Night Out event, check the National Night Out website here.

I’ll be taking the kids- They love events like this. Our local first responders have their vehicles open and the kids can explore the fire trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles. The last event we went to like this, The Big Kid got to check out the SWAT Vehicle and try on SWAT gear. I find that this kind of accessibility is great for little kids like Bitty, so she isn’t scared to approach a first responder if she is in need. It’s very useful for the Big Kid because some kids with ASD take things they are told literally. He would refuse to talk to a stranger if he needed help or was in danger because it’s drilled into kids heads at a young age. Meeting first responders and receiving reinforcement that they are NOT strangers, they are HELPERS gives him the reinsurance he needs that it’s ok to seek help in an emergency, especially if I am not around, or if I am the one who needs help.

 

My Monthly Savings to do list, updated for 2019!

file000901554050I wrote about this topic 4 years ago, and my… how the savings game has changed. In addition to sharing how I save and earn money each month, I’ve included some other tips at the bottom of the post.

I still do a lot of the same things:

Weekly: Print coupons & Check Savings Apps. I print coupons from Coupons.comSmartSourceRedPlum, and check apps and add items that appeal before I hit the grocery store each week. Here is a list of the apps I use.

 

1st and 15th: Mail out SBKC junk mail envelopes. I process our mail when it all comes in and I put the junk mail in the envelopes as it comes in.

Daily: I spend a little time each day (usually while I drink my coffee in the morning working my points programs. This includes  Mypoints (I save all of my Mypoints emails and do them all at once, one time a day). I also check my Field Agent App to see if there are any quick tasks I can do to earn some extra money that day.

As I am notified via emailPaid View Point (some of the surveys are time sensitive- those usually pay extra!), PineCone Research (surveys must be completed 3-6 days upon receiving the email).

Last day of the month: Clean out coupon wallet and removed expiring/expired coupons.

As needed/codes become available: I use the Swagbucks tool bar to do most of my internet searches, so I earn Swagbucks points intermittently with that too. I also order free samples when I see them available online. I’ll be posting about what I do with all the samples coming up.

I try to do as much shopping online with discounts as I can.  That means I check with  Mypoints and Topcashback  to see who is giving the better points/cash back, and I shop online a lot (especially in the summer when I’ve got both kids at home- it’s easier on the budget).

 

Other ways you can save money: 

 

How do you keep track of all of your programs to save money?

 

10 Tips to Stay on Budget for Groceries

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I frequently get skeptical looks, the side eye, or people thinking I’m starving my kids when I tell them that our grocery budget is $80/week.

It takes a lot of work, but it is doable. I cook a lot from scratch- it’s healthy, cheap, and I can control what goes into each dish (hidden veggies, fruit, less sugar, etc.). I can make a cheese pizza at home for less than $4, and that is enough pizza for the kids for two meals!

Here are a few of our family tactics to stay on budget:

  1. CASH! Go to the bank/ATM and get your grocery money out of the bank every week. This is a great way to start. I get $80 out of the ATM each Saturday for the upcoming weeks’ groceries.
  2. Inventory your Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry. Bonus- You’ll also find stuff that needs to be thrown out or donated. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printables, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.
  3. Menu Plan. Start by using what you’ve got on-hand. Eat food that’s on sale or in season. We eat a lot of strawberries in the summer because they are cheap!
  4. Make a grocery list. Stick to the list Don’t be afraid to substitute brands, or make changes based on what is on sale, or any in-store markdowns you find.
  5. Don’t be afraid to go to more than one store. I’m not saying run all over town, but going to two stores is OK. In our area, there are a 99 Cents Only store and a Grocery Outlet in the same shopping Center. I hit up both each week. Then, on the way home, I stop at Food4Less and buy milk (cheapest in town!), eggs, and bread (if 99 Cents Only doesn’t have the high protein bread we like).
  6. Eat Less Meat. Not only does it save money, but it’s better for the environment.
  7. Take advantage of local resources. There are a few food co-ops in our area. Additionally, there are free produce distributions too. A couple of my friends and I split a co-op lot twice a month. It comes out to less than $20 per person, and we get all kinds of cool stuff. A quick google search can help you find both in your area.  In the summer, we take advantage of Kid’s free lunches too.
  8. Coupon and/or use money-saving apps.  My complete list of apps can be found here. Right now my favorite apps are Fetch Rewards and Ibotta.  I love that I can use Fetch at any store. It helps because I shop a lot of Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only.
  9. Speaking of which… Don’t forget to check out stores like 99 Cents Only. There are all kinds of great bargains. Here is my list of 10 Great Buys at 99 Cents Only!
  10. Be Flexible. Some weeks you will go over budget. It happens. Sometimes you need to stock up on staples, or your family wants to eat something that isn’t on sale. Sometimes you really want to order a pizza and wings. That’s OK! Frugality is a journey, it’s not a punishment or a life of austerity and suffering. You can still live a fun, full life while being frugal.

Talk Back: Share a few of your families tips for staying on budget?

Free Reading Event for All Kids at Central Library (San Diego, CA)

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On June 22 from 10am-1pm, the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego and San Diego Family will be holding an All-Inclusive Read 3×3 Literacy Event: 3 Authors, 3 Hours, 3 Times the Fun at the San Diego Central Library.

San Diego Family Magazine is partnering with the San Diego Central Library @ Joan & Irwin Jacobs Common, Binford I CAN, Too! Center to promote literacy in kids from 0-10, put a free book in the hands of every child, teach empathy and compassion through stories and promote summer reading.

Every child that attends will receive a free book (while supplies last) donated by San Diego Family Magazine. We will have 3 authors (Salina Yoon, Sally J. Pla and Andrea Zimmerman) each read two of their books, followed by a craft for the kids.

The San Diego Central Library houses the Binford I CAN, Too! Center serving children with accessibility needs and their caregivers. The Binford I CAN, Too! Center offers access to technology, allowing patrons access to the following:

  • ZoomText: computer screen magnifier
  • JAWS: computer screen reader for the visually impaired, Read & Write Literacy: speech-to-text software, SARA Reader: converts text from printed to spoken
  • Optelec ClearView: 22” magnifier, High-definition keyboards, Adjustable height tables and Assistive Mouse/Ball Tracking.

In addition to the technology and equipment, the Center also provides periodic programming for and about children with special needs. These programs provide children with the opportunities to socialize, learn and have fun. Additional resources include large print and braille books, Sensory Integration Kits for children on the autism spectrum, and parent resource materials.

I’m excited to take the kids to this event and check out the Binford I CAN, Too! Center this summer.

Free Concerts this Weekend from Mainly Mozart!

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Mainly Mozart has a great trilogy of concerts this weekend at Bread and Salt in San Diego. The best part is that all three concerts are FREE. You need to register here for tickets.

Cello Meets Guitar
Friday, May 3 | Bread and Salt, Logan Heights | 7:00pm – Concert

Crossing Borders
Sunday, May 5 | Bread and Salt, Logan Heights | 2:00pm – Concert

Music, Inspiration, and Autism
Sunday, June 2 | Bread and Salt, Logan Heights |7:00pm – Concert

Mainly Mozart has a great series called Mozart & the Mind- and they are having an event on June 1st featuring Key Note Speaker- Temple Grandin. If you are a Regional Center Client, click here for information on how you can attend The June 1st or June 2nd Mozart & The Mind Symposium for free.

Family Event: Queen Bee Market – Spring Shopping Expo 4/26-4/27!

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Looking for some fun shopping this weekend? Head up to the Del Mar Fairgrounds and get ready to shop and support local, small businesses!!

Have you ever wished Etsy was a real store, filled with talented artisans and specialty crafts you could shop for in person? North County natives and sisters, Allison Gharst and Kellie Dooley, the owners behind Queen Bee Market, take that idea and turn it into reality. The two-day shopping expo takes place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 and will feature nearly 100 hand-selected artisans, including local and regional crafters. And, entry is only $3!

Queen Bee Market _Sketchy Notions.jpgKellie and Allison, took over operations and ownership of Queen Bee Market in 2015 after participating as vendors for several years. Both mothers themselves, they first got their start selling products on Etsy. Now, they hand-select each of the vendors that showcase at Queen Bee Market,

A few of the standouts for the April event include Bare Naked Botanicals, a line of artisanal vegan skin and body care; Momma Pots, maker of handmade and hand-painted concrete pots; Lu+Elle, a line of handmade bags; Chalk Couture, a chalk-centric line of DIY home décor; Blessed Little Bird, maker of customizable jewelry and trinkets; and more.  A full list of vendors is available at Queen Bee Market,

Queen Bee Market_Shoppers Browse Burma Boutique.jpgBut it’s more than shopping… Aside from all the spring shopping opportunities, Queen Bee Market will also offer interactive make-and-take stations and workshops where you can learn how to create your own hand-stamped jewelry, personalized chalkboard and how to blend essential oils to keep pets healthy and pest-free, among others.

Each Queen Bee Market event selects a local charity to support. This event will support the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank with on-site donation barrels to collect non-perishable food items and a virtual food drive where people can securely donate funds before they arrive at the market. Shoppers who donate five items will receive a Queen Bee Market shopping card worth 10 percent off their purchase at the expo. Not sure what kind of food items the food bank needs? Check out my post here with a list of items that are commonly requested.