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November 2022 Newsletter

Dear FISH Friends,

It is the season for gratitude and giving thanks. Our 130 volunteers deserve the highest thanks and my deepest gratitude because their generosity is the heart of FISH. Since November and Thanksgiving has its focus on food, I’d like to share our FISH "food story". I am incredibly grateful for all the folks who consistently provide nutritious and abundant food items for our food pantry. Let me introduce some of them to you:

Fresh From the Farm

Paul Wirtz of Paul’s Produce donates hundreds of pounds of fresh produce every week. His produce is exquisite – carrots, lettuce, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, squash, kale, swiss chard, peppers, fennel, celery, and more. Each Monday morning, we marvel at Paul’s generosity and the quality produce provided to FISH. Each week throughout the summer we received hundreds of pounds of harvest bounty from Paul's incredible gardens. Brian Witmer goes to Paul’s each Monday, picks up the produce, brings it to FISH, and help unpack each box. Miren Herrschaflt, Louise Bielfelt, Rob Pickett, and Janet Unverferth pack these items into beautiful produce bags for our daily distribution.  

The Little Farm at 900 Petaluma Avenue is a regular donor of fresh produce. On most Monday mornings zucchini, cucumbers, yellow squash, swiss chard, Chinese greens, onions and all type of fall squash are donated to FISH by Peter and Louise Hassan whose property not only provides produce for FISH but has artist studio space as well. Nearly every Monday FISH received more than 70 pounds of produce or more. These two signs tell their whole story – they are thankful and welcoming people.

On most Wednesdays, all summer long, June Michel from Sonoma Food Runners texted me that she could deliver fresh produce, and often eggs, from Mike Benzinger’s Farm. Fragrant basil, fresh tomatoes, carrots, squash, onions, celery, peppers, and lettuce were provided. This infusion of the freshly picked produce arrived just in time to resupply our produce bags.

Recently we surveyed those who come to FISH for food, and they unanimously have appreciated the fresh produce bags. June and her volunteers serve bounteous and healthy produce right to our front door - and we are thankful  

Whole Foods

Every Monday morning Whole Foods provides a large number of “grab & go” items along with bakery and some dairy items.  Many of our callers appreciate the organic and vegan meal options provided. FISH has a clear glass refrigerator where the meals from Whole Foods is stored so those who come for food can select these special precooked items – dinners to go! Tobias and Kristin, posing here for a picture on Halloween, are just two of the many helpful Whole Food employees we appreciate. Each month Whole Foods sends an accounting of all the items they have donated, and it's a long list! A special thanks to Roger Hamlyn and Marty Herrick who pick up these items early Monday morning.


Safeway contributes bakery items to FISH every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Stacey at Safeway makes sure that all the items are in grocery baskets so Christine Segerhammar, Roy Tennant, and Dee Weaver can roll the carts out to their car, pack the items in large boxes and bring them to FISH. Besides bread, English muffins, hot dog and hamburger buns, Safeway donated cookies, cakes, and other baked goods that are appreciated by our callers. Safeway has been donating to FISH for over 45 years, and has also hosted our Rotarian Bell Ringers for years. 

Sonoma Market

All the Sonoma Market Nugget staff have been wonderful to FISH and Cody Moody is the manager who advocates for community involvement. For years Meat Manager Scott Meroney has ground, wrapped, and frozen turkey for FISH. We also enjoy significant discounts on margarine, brown bags, and toilet paper. Sonoma Market is our go-to place when we have a need, and they always lend a helping hand to us. FISH has received the proceeds from the "See’s the Day" candy sales and Sonoma Market hosts our Bell Ringers each year. Sonoma Market’s customers are the most generous contributors to the FISH Bell Ringing. FISH is especially thankful for our special relationship with Sonoma Market.

Neighborhood Food Project

Laura Curran initiated the Neighborhood Food Project nearly six years ago. Laura’s energy and commitment translate into huge donations of nonperishable groceries every other month. Laura provides large green bags to her neighbors throughout Sonoma along with a list of items that FISH needs for the food pantry. She then collects all the green bags bursting with donations, brings them to FISH and helps organize the donations. The quality and quality of these nonperishables is astounding. Every time Laura comes to the food pantry, it feels just like Christmas as she is ladened with gifts of food for FISH.

Sonoma Valley Scouts

Each year the local Scouts spend a Saturday morning in November picking up nonperishable donations for FISH. The Scouts and their leaders provide doorhangers to all the Sonoma neighborhoods encouraging their participation and then they go neighborhood to neighborhood collecting the items. They items are brought to the Fiesta Center where they are weighed, sorted, and then donated to FISH. This year the three Sonoma Boy Scout units collected 190 boxes and 4,500 pounds of food. Cub Scout Pack 16, Scouts BSA Troop 16, and Scouts BSA Troop 222 were the hard workers. The Scouts take their motto of “Be Prepared” very seriously by preparing FISH to address the hunger needs of those in Sonoma Valley.

Last, but very definitely not least!

Our final partner is Redwood Empire Food Bank where we order both nonperishable items and produce.  REFB recently reported that during its fiscal year 2022, FISH ordered enough food to provide 26,329 meals – and only about half of our goods come from REFB! The estimated value of the food we ordered from REFB was $73,100 and the cost to FISH was only $12,281. 

Two Tuesdays each month the large REFB truck parks in front of FISH and Eric Muller, Marilyn Vernon, Lori Dobbs and Nancy Lang separate, sort, store the nonperishable items. They also make produce bags for our twice a month home delivery program. 

From all of us at FISH, may your Thanksgiving find you spending time with people who mean the most to you and may happy conversations along with love and laughter fill your day.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Sandy Piotter

Our Mission Statement:

FISH of Sonoma Valley lends a helping hand to our neighbors in need

by providing critical safety net services.

P.O. Box 507, Sonoma CA 95476-0507
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