Our Paper Returns!

A Message from the Chairman
In This Issue

"Sharing Thoughts on Caring"

by Ruth Denburg-Yoshiwara

"Debbie's Desk"

by Debbie Decker

"In the Pantry"

by Roya Muniz

New USDA Regulations

Event Calendar

How You Can Help

Volunteer Luncheon Award Winners

Remember to get your schedule request for December in by November 15th!

The WV Food Pantry welcomes new volunteer Ara Mae Duenas who was trained in September by Liz Chaneske to distribute food in the Pantry.

After a hiatus of over a year, I am pleased to announce that regular, monthly publication of our volunteer newsletter, the Pantry Paper, has now resumed as of this inaugural issue. The Paper has a long history as a central resource for information exchange within our organization, a role it will once again serve for years to come.

I want to thank you, our volunteers for helping to make the West Valley Food Pantry among the most trusted and reliable food resources in our community. As we enter our busiest time of year, I am confident that you will find the information presented in the Pantry Paper both informative and useful. Our strategic goals for the Pantry this year include improving the communication channels between operations, administration, and you: the volunteers.

We encourage you to engage in the information sharing process by submitting pantry-related articles or observations of interest for publication. With your engagement, we can share information that will be useful to your fellow volunteers or of interest to the general public via our website. Communication needs to be a two-way process and the Pantry Paper is a vehicle to help that to occur.

Pantry Chair Richard Podleski

I look forward to seeing many of you over the holiday period and thank you for your service!


Richard Podleski

Volunteers at the Kol Tikvah Food Drive

Volunteers at the Kol Tikvah Food Drive


Sharing Thoughts on Caring

Ruth Denburg Yoshiwara

Every human being has their own set of values, biases and prejudices, and Food Pantry volunteers are no different. Although most of us volunteer—at least in part—out of a desire to help the community, our bias and prejudice may unwittingly dilute the good deeds we do, and offend our clientele.

Consider the adage, “Beggars can’t be choosers”. We may think our clientele should just be grateful for whatever food we give them and accept it all with gushing thanks. Some clients, however, may pick through the bags of groceries, pull out items they don’t want, and demand specific replacements. A volunteer who, even unconsciously, believes that “beggars should not be choosy”, may be offended, dismayed, angered or disappointed by that pickiness and what seems like lack of gratitude. By word, look or body language, we convey our feelings to the client. Will they leave the Pantry feeling judged or condemned? Might this prevent them from accessing the food they need in the future?

Volunteers observing this behavior often express the belief that the client is “taking advantage” of the program and probably doesn’t really need the food help. Yet, by tapping empathy to imagine what life might be like for our clients, we can reach some different conclusions. Consider:

1. In every other aspect of their lives, they may feel powerless, having little or no control over what life has brought them. Our clients may be homeless, unemployed or underemployed, have physical or mental health problems, be elderly or frail, or otherwise disadvantaged. The Pantry may be one of the few places they are welcomed, feel safe enough to express their opinions, to be themselves.

2. They may have legitimate health issues, such as allergies to wheat, nuts, eggs or dairy, or diabetes.

3. They may keep kosher or halal, which limits the types of meat and other foods that can be eaten.

4. They may have mental health issues that compel them to be compulsive about food, or take away their verbal filters.

5. They may be offended that you have given them food that appears to be damaged or rotten, and feel entitled to wholesome fare even though they are poor.

The “FP” in WVFP does not stand for “Food Police”. Rather, we are a Food Pantry, where the bottom line for us as volunteers is that we are here to give food to people that need it, want it and qualify for our programs. It should be a place of welcome, generosity and graciousness. Our personal, private beliefs and values that run counter to this mission can be expressed any other time, except when we are working our shifts at the Pantry.

Nov 8

Town Hall Meeting Assembly Member Matt Dababneh

Reseda High School

(all food collected goes to the Pantry)


Nov 11&12

Boy Scout (Scouting for Food) drive



Nov 16

Ivy Academy Food Sorting

POP parking lot


Nov 22

Viewpoint School food donation & sorting

POP parking lot


Dec 13

Last day to receive toys for Toy Drive

POP Church


Dec 16

Toy Distribution Day!!!

POP Family Center



Volunteer Opportunities

Sorters Needed Scout Food Drive Calabasas.

Supervising food sorting. Saturday & Sunday, November 11th & 12th. 4-hour shifts: 9am-1pm & 1pm-5pm. Please email Roya if available.

Backend Computer Volunteer Needed

We’re looking for someone to help record the client visits once a week in the office (not in the Pantry). It requires a detail-oriented person who is already very comfortable using a Windows computer. You would be trained to record visits, input new clients, formulate visit notes, and watch for problems. Time commitment is 2 to 3 hours every Thursday (but could move to Wednesday later if desired.) If interested, please email Linda publisher@westvalleyfoodpantry.org.

Looking for people who would love to work on our Pantry Paper! We need people for formatting and layout, graphic design, and content creation (photos and articles). Soooo…share your special talents: We need you! Contact Helene Fernandez at publisher@westvalleyfoodpantry.org.

From Debbie’s Desk

Greetings Volunteers! As we start our Fall Season at the Pantry, I’d like to take a moment and say thank you to everyone for putting your time and effort into helping those who are marginalized in our community. We’re of tremendous help to our neighbors and the West Valley Food Pantry doesn’t forget that without YOU, we can’t fulfill our mission to help feed those in need. As we near Thanksgiving, please know that I give thanks for each one of you!

With THANKS in mind, I’d like to say the past few months have been very busy. In July and August, we gave out hundreds of backpacks to our Pantry children thanks to the National Charity League mother and daughter teams AND to the Valentine Family for establishing a fund to support this effort.

Matt Dababneh Presents Certificate

State Assembly Member Matt Dababneh

Presents Certificate of Recognition to WVFP

NCL Girls at Back-to-School Drive

On September 9th we had our Annual Volunteer Luncheon. Thank you, Roya Muniz, Margaret Shively and the entire Pantry Board for putting on such a wonderful event AND congratulations to all the award winners! (Listed here.)

We also thank Temple Kol Tikvah for a hugely successful food drive on Oct. 1st. They had 79 volunteers packing well over 300 boxes of food for our clients! AND a special thank you to the Woodland Hills Women’s Club: They have supported the Pantry for many years and continue to support us with monthly food donations—but last month they added a generous donation of $1000 to the Pantry!

Thanks also to the new restaurant California Fish Grill in Warner Center for honoring us at their Grand Opening. They treated a few of us to a fabulous lunch and presented us with a check for $500!

LOOKING FORWARD: Many food drives are already scheduled for the next two months so you’ll see a lot of new faces out in the parking lot helping to sort and box food. Please remember to thank them for their support. We love having the extra muscle power they supply!

AND LAST…but not least, I’d like to ask all our volunteers to get a Hepatitis A shot. San Diego has an epidemic going on and it’s just begun to appear in Los Angeles. If you work with the homeless, or our clients OR you use the bathrooms at the Pantry, you could contract it. Please make sure to wash your hands often and get the vaccine to protect yourself and others.

Thank you everyone for all your hard work and devotion. You are sooo appreciated!

Debbie Decker

Executive Director & C.O.O.


New Government Training Requirement

For those of you who have received your November schedules, you may have already read that the US Department of Agriculture—which is the agency that runs the EFAP program that provides us with a significant amount of free food items to distribute to our clients—is requiring all volunteers at food distribution sites receive Civil Rights Training. The training is actually just a 4-page form that every volunteer must read and sign. A copy is sent to the LA Food Bank to prove we’re in compliance, and the process must be repeated every 12 months.

A copy of the form was sent with the November schedule, and you can read and sign it at home and email a copy to us (forms@westvalleyfoodpantry.org) or turn it in on your next shift. Beginning December 1st, if we do not have your form on file, you will not be permitted to work in the Pantry until it’s completed.

We have to scan all the forms in and get them submitted BEFORE December 1st, so please help us out by getting your in as soon as possible!

In the Pantry

Roya Muniz, Pantry Supervisor

For the month of September, 2017, we served a total of 830 households and 2,201 people.

I wanted to remind all closing shift leaders to please make sure all fruits are put away and baskets are washed.

My thanks to the entire volunteer staff for their dedication to helping those in need. Special applause and kudos to:

Sylvia El Bayer for taking charge and boiling approximately 144 eggs every week for our homeless clients.

Betty Allen for wearing so many different hats in the pantry: organizing the storage units, washing the towels, and keeping the inside the panty clean

Keep up the great work!

Luncheon Award
Service Awards:
  • Donna Shuster
  • Helene Fernandez
Star Awards:
  • Marlene Naumann, RN
  • Dr. Gabe Adorjan, D.M.D.
  • Barbara Partridge
  • Rick Karp
Smile Awards:
  • Lee Tishler
  • Leah Marks
  • Marquese York
  • Les Carney

The Pantry Paper is published to provide information for the active volunteers of the West Valley Food Pantry.