CSA CAN Challenge exceeds expectations

Community Services Agency collected donations of more than 5,600 pounds of canned and other nonperishable food valued at approximately $9,000 during its second CAN Challenge campaign, which ran July 22 to Aug. 2.

Local businesses captured the spirit of the event, including one that organized a team-building event to create sculptures from 4,000 cans of food that were subsequently donated to CSA.

CSA neighbor 23andMe challenged employees to walk across the street and drop off a can of food at the agency’s pantry.

Additionally, the author of the blog and Facebook page “Silicon Valley Toddler” posted a photo of her children dropping off the food items they had selected at the grocery store to donate to CSA. She also highlighted the importance of imparting the message to all children that everyone deserves to eat tasty, nutritious food.

“I was blown away by the community response to the second year of the CAN Challenge campaign. We received many calls from interested individuals, organizations and companies, many of whom had not donated to CSA in the past,” said Simone Berkowitz, organizer of the campaign. “Some hosted bins in their lobbies for the duration of the campaign and encouraged employees to donate.We hope those who have learned about us through the campaign continue to get involved throughout the year either by continuing to donate or volunteering.”

CSA sponsors the CAN Challenge in the summer, a time of year when food donations are typically lower.

When schools are closed for summer, many of the children who would regularly benefit from the free and reduced-price lunch program eat fewer meals.

Every summer, 17 out of 20 low-income students fall into the summer nutrition gap.

CSA helps provide for those children as well as filling the gaps for adults, seniors and homeless individuals in the community year-round.

“The contributions have an enormous impact,” said CSA Food and Nutrition Center director Christine Flego. “We are currently gearing up for our school pantry program, and this food will allow us to provide groceries to hundreds of families in our community.”

CSA Executive Director Tom Myers envisions the campaign having an even broader impact next year.

“We would love to see other local safety-net agencies joining forces with us in 2020 by encouraging their community members to donate cans to benefit their clients,” he said. “Maybe one day soon we will see a statewide CAN campaign – the California CAN Challenge.”

For more information on Community Services Agency, visit

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