I would recommend Food Food for Thought to anyone in need of their services or anyone looking for a rewarding, meaningful and well-run organization to volunteer at or donate to. I have been volunteering and donating to them for quite a few years now and they truly provide a compassionate, fun, healthy and welcoming environment for their clients, people suffering from HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. It's not your typical food bank - they have a small, dedicated staff that hold creative fundraising events, harvest food from their own garden and offer nutritional support, deliveries, and service in Spanish for their clients
Review from Guidestar
I delivered groceries from Food For Thought to a friend with AIDS in the late 80's. It was a tiny organization then serving a handful of folks in need. I've attended their events through time and was pleased to see them grow and serve hundreds more clients over time. It wasn't until recently I got to observe their operations and meet the staff. As a long time fund raiser for nonprofits, I was impressed with the quality of their food delivery system, the caring and compassion of the volunteers and staff and the professionalism with which they conduct business. The negative comments I read do not reflect the reality I see in this gem of a nonprofit. More agencies could learn from them! Lucy Barnett
As I client/volunteer I say thank you many times over for being there when I really needed your support at dealing with this scary issue of HIV/AIDS.
Through their dedication to the details it is easy to understand why they have been servicing those of us in need for the past 25 years.
KEEP UP TO LOVING WORK FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!!!
Review from Guidestar
A close family member with HIV became a client of Food For Thought. At the time he was really down and struggling. Not only did he receive healthy food; He was treated with respect, community and dignity at no cost. FFT's education was a giant help. As he started to feel better he became a volunteer. Next he was able to go back to work. He continues to serve at Food For Thought. Today HIV is only a small but real part of his life and he takes care of it. He is into serving others and becoming a useful, independent man. I am grateful to Food For Thought. What a difference it made in my son's life.
2 other things
The program is well run and effective with very few paid staff. It has a large volunteer base of support.
Their organic garden is out of this world and is a vital part of their food program.
Once great agency now tainted with bad management practices. True number of ACTIVE clients served is 325, not the 650 as touted. Think twice about where you are sending your donation dollars the next time one of their clients pulls into their parking lot to get his free food in his brand, spanking new Mercedes SUV--because clients are never asked to show financials and a good number of them are NOT living in poverty. Client services manager sees tracking such a thing as a daunting task--she's too busy with self-importance. Latest Endowment gift nearing 2 mill and still the clients are served the same old tired food options. Current staff cold and emotionless. Board ineffective at managing its faltering ED. Control freak diva is breathlessly waiting in the wings to slip into the ED role so as to continue her desperate ego-feeding frenzy. Stewart is rolling in his grave. Wake up people, it ain't 1995 and this is not the once-important grassroots agency that achieved magic and greatness in its well-run, heartfelt day. Know someone living with AIDS? Write them a personal check or take them to your favorite natural foods store each week instead of donating to this place. Open a friendly drop-in center when clients can visit and volunteers can socialize with them and serve them healthy foods AND, then, sugary treats if that makes their day and makes them smile. Until this food bank shapes up and remembers its grassroots, it's not worth the time, trouble or your hard earned dollars. They eat their wounded.
Review from CharityNavigator
I'm very suspicious of several of the 5-star reviews. Why are 25 of the 32 reviews all in June 2010 and all 5-star ratings by "volunteers"? Why this sudden rush of favorable reviews in one month? It gives the impression that someone was trying to load your rating system. It is true that the director's salary is over $90,000/yr, which is one of the highest paid non-profit salaries in this area and a significant portion of the total budget. Also the website claims that 85% "of your donation will reach our clients through our services" but that is misleading since the "services" include a portion of the salaries of the director and salaries of the paid employes for their time in providing client services (as distinguished from fund raising, for example).
A once great organization that has been hijacked by people with a completely different agenda that it's original mission statement. Excessive wages and superfluous employees earning as much as $100,000.00 per year have bloated the budget and has reduced the amount of money spent on food to a pathetic 25% of it's budget. (When I started ten years ago overhead was 10%! now it's 75%!) Add many questionable alliances with entities such as Ocean Song and the Occidental Arts and Ecology center and you have an organization that has no direction other than the pathetic Directors fantasies and have NOTHING to do with being an AIDS food bank and this is why FFT is now a failing organization as it uses AIDS as a fundraiser for other non AIDS related stuff.
Review from CharityNavigator
I had never heard of this organization until last week. I went to a dining event at my favorite restaurant and was approached by one of their volunteers. It seemed a little odd but she was so kind and engaging that we wanted to know more. She was knowledgeable and passionate about the organization. We felt like we needed to make a donation. I look forward to getting to know them even more.
Started with a minuscule overhead ratio whereby about 95% of any cash given went directly to food purchase. Has now been bloated with Five officious full time employees and two part timers. Wages have bloated inching toward 30% of budget and food expenditures dive toward the 20% level.
Review from Guidestar
Food for Thought serves over 600 men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Sonoma County with food, nutritional services, moral support, connections, and hugs. Clients can receive services on a weekly basis, either by coming into the Food Bank or having groceries delivered if they are too ill to come in or have no transportation. FFT has been around for 20 years and because of this amazing organization, clients have access to nutrition so important to their health, and moral support so important to their morale.
This is the most amazing organization! A small, but talented staff and an army of enthusiastic volunteers, manage to provide hundreds of clients and their children with food, support, and dignity. The positive attitude, dedication, and good management make this a strong organization that is fun to work in.
This is the original "warm-fuzzy" agency. Clients, volunteers, and staff are all one friendly family. And there's food! What's not to like.
Food For Thought is a magical place. There is an energy of giving and service. It shows so clearly. I was hesitant about going in the first and was treated with kindness and with love. It is very well managed and there is an aura of love. I am very grateful to Food For Thought.
I volunteered for Food For Thought for about 5 years off and on. I really enjoyed the energy that was brought into that place. All the people working/volunteering there have such a great attitude even during hard times. They are extremely organized and have everything planned out. Such as what goes where, checking in donated food, and how to fill out orders for people.
I have volunteered for the Food Band for Sixteen Years. It was difficult at first because even the volunteers were dying of Aids Related Virus and the turnover was significant and emotionally trying. Since the new combination medications people are living longer and we have a great family of volunteers and employees. I was just thinking the other day how it is so much more than a FOOD BANK and has become a family where everyone feels comfortable and supported whatever their needs. I sometimes just go to the Food Bank for support and to provide some assistance to others and in turn feel cared for and "loved". Sometimes it is the best therapy. The food garden fairies share a lunch on Saturday that is supportive and delicious and we help supply nutritious food from the garden for the clients. Orny
We started at FFT in 1989 and have had a wonderful association for twenty-one years. We have seen it grow from a grass roots organization serving a few clients to what it has become today - serving over six hundred clients. We have found that the goals of FFT have always been set with the clients well-being first. As volunteers, we've always enjoyed our relationship with clients, staff, and other volunteers.
We love to work with Food For Thought for many reasons: 1) Their employed staff is small -- they keep operating costs down by relying on volunteers rather than paid workers. This way FFT can serve their clients rather than serving the organization. There is zero waste in their system. 2) The paid staff are the nicest, coolest people, and they make their volunteers feel so welcome, appreciated, supported, and intimately connected to the success of the organization. As volunteers we feel like we are as important as the paid workers. 3) The service FFT provides the community is so tangible and life-affirming: we feed people who need food! How much more useful can one's work get?! The results of our FFT labor are immediate; we see the food being delivered or picked up every day and know it is going to people who would suffer immeasurably without our help. To be able to successfully and readily alleviate the suffering of others gives us such a wonderful feeling. 4) FFT is incredibly efficient and organized. So many details of their operation have been fine-tuned and improved and carefully developed as a result of heaps of creative energy and the cooperation of brilliant minds. 5) Even though FFT's mission is feeding people, they don't neglect the important cause of being GREEN. Their practices are very environmentally sustainable and devoted to minimal ecological impact.
Food for Thought is a tremendous organization in its ability to generate food and resources to help HIV/AIDS patients. From an Antique Store that has great merchandise to Home Tours that get regional attention, to local gardens that feed patients--this organization is constantly using cost effective creative ideas to achieve success.
It is the people who make Food for Thought so special. There are many non-profits, but the people associated with FFT are the reason that they are my primary recipient of donations from our family. Each and every person is committed and passionate about the work they do. The quality of their work and committment is evident at the FFT site in Forestville, and at all fundraising events. We are happy to be donors for FFT.
Food for Thought is the only local charity I support because they do an outstanding -- Amazing! -- job on very, very little. Their overhead is extremely low relative to the work they are able to accomplish. Food for Thought is Sonoma County's finest not-for-profit. It doesn't get much more basic or important than feeding people.
it's been awhile since i lived in sonoma county...but when i did..food for thought was very much in my life...off and on for a decade i had the privilege of delivering food to men women and families who were compromised by the hiv/aids virus. my four children were 14 and under and at least a couple of them would accompany me on friday afternoons...it is just what we did. besides the friendships that were made through deliveries...getting to know staff and other volunteers through fundraising events or working on sight was always a pleasure. food for thought always made sense to me...cause "sharing the food" is certainly about nourishment for the bodies of a population of our community that is challenged with one of the biggest epidemics our planet has known...but it is also about nourishment of spirit and soul...cause in being involved with food for thought...we are given an opportunity to be engaged with each other on a heart level...and that is never a bad thig... the work can be hard and strenuous and tedious and may get a little "political" at times, as organizations often do...but in my experience with food for thought..there is an unending stream of creative, talented, intelligent and devoted individuals who are commited to "making a difference" in our community....and food for thought does....over and over and over again. ***
As a volunteer for FFT, I feel that my afternoon is the high point of my week. I am appreciated by people whom I both admire and like. My clients are glad to talk with me when I deliver and I am glad to see them. Generally there is a lot of love at this place and I am able to both get some of it and give some of it. It is entirely a positive experience. The professional staff is good at what they do and value me as a volunteer. I have worked for other social service agencies and this one should be the model to the others. I am proud to associated with this organization.
Food for Thought provides specialized personal service referrals, along with nutritious foods from local donors large and small. This is the only place that I have ever experience this level of clear, helpful, love to the HIV/Aids community.The staff is soft and exceptional. The volunteers are the kind of people I want to be associated with compassionate, loving, direct, and effective as many have weathered this storm for decades. The community welcomes the efforts, the circle is complete as long as we all keep showing up.Thank You FFT
I was introduced to the Food Bank about 10 years ago when I was invited to donate a gourd to the first Calabash. I was hooked: the staff and volunteers are so warm and appreciative, the facility so clean and well-organized, the clients so well-served...I've donated every year since. When i was between full-time jobs, and feeling like I needed to be more connected with the community, I volunteered as a Food Fairy in the pantry, and met many other wonderful volunteers and gained an inside view of how well-run the Food Bank is. 3 years ago, I was asked to be a restaurant host for Dining Out for Life; that has turned out to be an annual commitment. I have met so many wonderful people in this community through the Food Bank, and seen how well-it serves its clients. no fat cats here, no padded bureaucrats - only a tiny, dedicated paid staff and an army of cheerful volunteers. And the gardens! If you live in Sonoma County, learn about this non-profit! donate! Get involved!
Coming up ten years I've worked with Food for Thought. This has to be a model for non-profits to strive for. Terrific people to work with, always. I've worked for other non-profits but the imagination and dedication to "all" the avenues FFT travels to keep the 600+ clients nourished, cared for and loved is what makes volunteering here a joy. The hard work, in these depressed economic times, to feed and help those in need has not diminished. Thank you for your work
Food for Thought is completely run with only 4 1/2 paid administrative positions. Volunteers, in fact, make the organization operational. The leadership team covers all bases for clients and volunteers—from excellent volunteer training and deployment, to handling special needs cases, to delivering food to many Sonoma County clients, to ensuring quality, healthy food for needy clients. The staff and volunteers interact in a very family like fashion with successful, gratifying team work which enhances the lives of both volunteers and clients. Hats off to Ron, Elisa, Linda, Eric, Rachel, and Neil for the excellent managerial work.
This is an excellent organization to support. The work is heartfelt and volunteering here was a pleasure. A very positive experience and an organization that is vital to our community. An excellent organization to support however you can.
It was serendipity that we hooked up--me and the food bank! That was a few years ago, and it's always been up and to the right! I'm a lucky person to have found such a wonderous magical group of volunteers to work with and who respect the clients, share experiences, do not pass judgement, offer nothing but a free personal grocery order for those who have a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. What could be more basic? A persomal experience, dignity, humor, support (From the most unusual places!). YOU ROCK!!!
It's incredible to be associated with a charity that reaches so many families affected by AIDS. Its amazing to see all the volunteers and the small number of paid staff working so well together. These are very hard times for non-profits, but everyone works so hard to make sure that about $.90 of every dollar reaches the clients FFT serves.
As a volunteer, I delivered weekly packages of food to clients who could not leave their homes. Just seeing the look of gratitude on their faces made it all worthwhile: people actually cared that this person received nutritious meals, which would help them with all their other HIV medical problems.
Ten years ago i was unemployed, my health was failing, and my resources were depleted. My best friend walked me through the doors of Food for Thought and they were there to help me. Today i am a volunteer and avid supporter of this agency that continues to help anyone/everyone whose life has been disrupted by HIV/AIDS with nutritious food, love, and social support here in Sonoma County. This organization, with only five full time paid staff, provides services for more than 600 clients and family members. Amazing!
This organization provides their clients with basic food needs, as a food bank should; but it is so much more. Nutritional advice and supplements, advice of an experienced organization and most important, the compassion of a giving family. Even in their previous, cramped building, the lobby was always the most welcome, warm place to be. At a volunteer picnic, many years ago, I overheard a guest of a volunteer say, "There is so much acceptance and warmth here". My personal reward in volunteering as a food drive worker was watching the good change in the people who gave: Parents teaching their children to give, older children giving to a cause when their parents expected them to be spend their money on themselves, the easing of pain of a family member's first gift in honor of a victim of this desease and so many other good things happen when giving. This is what an organization such as Food For Thought gives to everyone. I am not able to volunteer now but greatly value the time that I did.
I have seen firsthand how Food For Thought helps the people with HIV/Aids in the Russian River area. These people are so grateful for the food and the love and acceptance being shown to them. This is a great organization!
Food For Thought distributes food to people with HIV and AIDS in Sonoma County, California. Most of the work is done by volunteers. The volunteer coordinator took the attitude that we are all adults; the clients and the volunteers are able to be responsible for their own actions and don't need to be policed. The respect given to clients and to me as a volunteer was empowering. The kindness and caring of the staff and the other volunteers was a big plus for me in working there. The purpose of the organization, feeding people who are ill, was always the priority in getting things done; I never felt like egos or organizational politics got in the way of that. I stopped volunteering when I moved away from the area; I have contributed money to FFT and they are in my will as a beneficiary.
Every volunteer shift is different and every shift I walk away feeling good. Food For Thought values its volunteers and the work they do. There is such respect between clents, volunteers,and staff creating a very positive environment.