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Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services opens new education and technology center

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Families and individuals in need will have access to computers and educational services at the new education and technology center, which hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday. The center, located at 3308 Third Ave., will be open for classes on Feb. 21.

According to Communication Director Kelly Siefkin, the new facility will serve 2,500-3,000 of the 15,000 people the program serves each month. The new center allows for space to divide the groups based on learning levels.

Siefkin said she hopes that the expansion of available programs and training will have a positive impact on unemployment in Sacramento.

“I hope people know they can do everything here to improve their lives through education,” Siefkin said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

The 22,500-square-foot center is more than triple the size of the original 7,000-square-foot facility and will house 120 computers and 11 classrooms, more than double the original 40 computers and five classrooms.

Communication Director Kelly Siefkin in the garden

Adjacent to the Center is a 7,600-square-foot garden, which will be used for food supply, and children and adults will use it to grow their own food.

“There will be a kitchen in the garden,” Siefkin said. “The students will be able to grow their produce and see how they can turn it into something they can eat.”

The SFBFS received a loan from the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, a $100,000 technology grant from State Street Foundation and one-time federal and county grants to build the $3.5 million building.

Maria Garcia attended the Youth Academy and helped cut the ribbon at the ceremony
Fourteen-year-old Maria Garcia benefited from the youth education program at the original education center and helped cut the ribbon at the ceremony. She started the program when she was in the second grade and is now enrolled in a private high school and works once a week at McClellan Air Force Base.

“The Youth Academy taught me how to read and write,” Garcia said. “It also helped me catch up with my classes and (taught me) how to get a love for reading.”

After completing the youth academy, she attended the computer clubhouse, which he said taught her how to use the Microsoft Office programs, including Excel and PowerPoint.

The youth academy and computer clubhouse have been combined with the existing PlayCare to make up the youth education program. Separate adult and parent (formerly mother-baby) education programs were also added.

Cassandra Smith with her son, Orion
Twenty-two-year-old Cassandra Smith, enrolled in the parent education program, has been attending programs since 2009 and was playing with her 2-year-old son, Orion, in the new 5,000-square-foot recreation area.

Smith, who was eight months pregnant with Orion when she started the program, met with Parent Education Program Manager Lorena Carranza, who she said helped her get settled.

“She provided a care package for moms in the last trimester,” Smith said. “It was really helpful because I didn’t have any of the items.”

Smith said she receives points for each class which go toward her necessities. She added that with the new programs, the points per class will double.

“My stroller broke on the way to class once,” Smith said, laughing. “I was able to purchase a new stroller with 15 points, which was an amazing feeling.”

Smith said that the program not only helps her, but it helps her son as well.

Orion enjoying the new recreation area

Siefkin added that anyone can attend the program and that the old zipcode restrictions, which prohibited certain programs to specific areas, are no longer in place. While there are paid staff members, the teachers are all volunteers and help with anything from English as a second language (ESL) to computers and parent education.

“We have unbelievable volunteers,” Siefkin said. “They allow us to offer services at no cost.”

According to Siefkin, volunteers, materials and resources are needed immediately to prepare for the opening in February.

“We want to make sure everyone knows the community is welcome to get involved,” Siefkin said.

For more information, visit the website.

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