By Lt. John Ojo, AA/PIO
California State Prison, Solano

Did you know that some reports reflect that in California, 4,574,710 people are struggling with hunger – and of them 1,731,270 are children? That comes down to 1 in 8 people in the state struggling with hunger, and 1 in 5 of those are children. This is one reason CSP-Solano hosted a food drive March 31 to support the Vacaville Storehouse, an organization that provides free food and necessary personal care items to people in need in Solano County. The Storehouse serves more than 20,000 people every month.

CSP-Solano staff partnered with The Fathers House, a local non-denominational church, to allow inmates the ability to donate money they’ve earned from their institutional work assignments, friends, or family. The offenders involved in the self-help program BOLD (Beyond Ordinary Life Doings) contributed non-perishable food and hygiene items purchased in the institution canteen.

Pastor and Vacaville City Councilman Raymond Beatty said, “I wanted to participate not only to provide more food for the 20,000 people a month that I already feed, but to let the inmates understand what it feels like to give instead of take.”

One of the inmates said, “We have taken so much from the communities we came from it feels great to give back.”

Capt. Marlaina Dernoncourt said the event serves a dual purpose as it supports a worthy cause and allows inmates the opportunity to partake in restorative justice.

“Thank you for allowing me to be a part of a wonderful program that allows me the opportunity to give back, and see the value in changing lives,” said inmate Hall.

The items were collected in the CSP-Solano gymnasium and representatives of The Father’s House volunteer efforts were able to deliver one full truck load of food and hygiene items to the Vacaville Storehouse. In addition, the inmates also submitted Trust Withdrawals totaling $1,900.

Like the old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish then you feed him for a lifetime.”

Although this one action does not end hunger it does help as it feeds many people for a day. And, if the lesson of giving is received by one member of the inmate population, or by one person receiving that free meal or hygiene product, then the benefits of this event will be unending.