Sonoma Raceway rallies NASCAR fans and locals to help feed the hungry

Sonoma Raceway is collecting food donations at various locations, one of which is outside Sonoma Market in the town of Sonoma - photo by Jonathan Farrell

The saying “it takes a village…” certainly would apply to the town of Sonoma.
Even after Nugget Markets purchased the locally owned Sonoma Market from Dale Downing and Don Shone, it continues to be the community’s market where people do more than shop. Located in the Valley Mart Shopping Center at 500 West Napa Street away from the historic and touristy plaza, Sonoma Market is a center of its own, as locals flock there daily.
They socialize, catch up with neighborhood news and support the vendors and causes that make the town of Sonoma the hometown they love.
As soon as Halloween festivities ended general manager Cody Moody and staff placed a food donation bin just outside the entrance. The black and white checkered flag bin is distinctive. And it is that way because this food drive at Sonoma Market is part of Sonoma Raceway’s 19th annual food drive.
The raceway’s annual food drive has distributed more than 39 tons of food since its inception in 2000, including 6,232-pounds of food and more than $1,300 in donations to food banks in 2018.
NASCAR and Racing car fans, community members and Sonoma Market regulars are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items not only at Sonoma Market, but at several North Bay locations. All food collected will be distributed to Redwood Empire Food Bank and also to Friends In Sonoma Helping. (F.I.S.H.)
F.I.S.H was founded in the early 1970’s by a collaboration of local churches wanting to help with crucial needs within the community and through out the Sonoma Valley. As the valley grew and the requests for food and assistance kept pace with the increased population the then nomadic FISH services found a home in 2002 at 18330 Sonoma Highway.
For more than 15 years the all-volunteer F.I.S.H. has been working with the community through places like Nugget’s Sonoma Market, Sonoma Raceway and others.
“The holiday food baskets give people and families a source of food during the holidays that they don’t otherwise have,” said Dee Weaver, coordinator of the F.I.S.H. Holiday Food Basket program. This is a complete giveaway, and we fill up apple boxes with canned goods, fresh produce, eggs, cheese and a gift certificate for meat and poultry.”
According to the Human Services Dept, of Sonoma County since 2016 more than 160,000 low-income households continued to be unable to afford the food needed to prepare three meals a day. For these residents, many of them children and seniors, going without lunch or missing breakfast is unavoidable even by those receiving help from local charitable and government nutrition programs.
“Last year, Sonoma Raceway’s annual food drive brought in nearly 4,000 pounds of donated food to the Redwood Empire Food Bank,” said Sara Olsher, Marketing and Communications Manager, REFB. “Food drives are one of the best sources of donated food for us because the donations are hand-picked by members of our community. One in 6 Sonoma County residents go to bed hungry every day, and food drives like this one are a vital part of our mission to help them.”
Recommended non-perishable food items include tuna and canned meat, peanut butter, canned soups, stews and chili, rice, dry beans, cereal, canned fruits and vegetables, high protein granola bars and trail mix or nuts.
Donation bins like the checkered flag one sponsored by Sonoma Raceway that is outside the entrance to Sonoma Market will be accepting donations until Nov. 22. For details call Sonoma Market at: (707) 996-3411.