Densie Spayd - Siskiyou Food Assistance - Run for Food

Lauri Sturdivant

Denise Spayd - Chicken, Pear & Gorgonzola Pasta

Denise with a map of the Run for Food map including the Bear Trail at COS.

Denise Spayd is the Executive Director for the Siskiyou Food Assistance program (SFA). She started her career out as a nurse and still is, but taking some time for her family and her community. She is one of about 40 volunteers who work to bring food to those in need in South Siskiyou County.

The Siskiyou Food Assistance Run for Food a 5K Run/Walk takes place on Thanksgiving morning, November 22, 2018 at the COS Weed campus. Check in opens at 7:45am. The Run/Walk begins at 8:45am at the Football/Track Field.

Siskiyou County is considered a food desert; often ranking first in the western states. A food desert refers to lack of access to supermarkets. This generally refers to the difficulty in making a trip to a grocery store more difficult because of low rates of vehicle ownership and limited public transportation.

Lauri: How did the Siskiyou Food Assistance program (SFA) get started?

Denise: The Siskiyou Food Assistance program began in 1986 when Pastor Jerry and Denise Broomfield helped striking mill workers with food from their little church in Weed. As they got older community members began pitching in year-round. We got a 501(c)3 and now annually serve about 700 clients and have about 40 volunteers including our staff and Board of Directors.

The program operates out of the old Weed Elementary School's Arts & Theater and Home EC rooms, where my children once attended school. The school district gives us the space rent free, but we pay the power bill that can run as high as $500 in the winter months.

Volunteers set out the weeks donation of produce from General Produce.

Lauri: How are people able participate in the food assistance program?

Denise: Anyone needing food assistance can come to the SFA food pantry located at 780 S. Davis Ave. We distribute the food boxes Wednesdays from 11am to 3pm. We require photo ID, proof of residence in South Siskiyou County, proof of income, household members, etc. then we create a file for them. Clients can receive up to ten Emergency Food Boxes annually and we have to track that for our funders.

Clients agree to volunteer 2 hours a year to help us with the work needed to keep the operations going. Volunteers work in the field where they can serve with their skills. We have everything from general paper work, data entry and managing the volumes of food that go through our program.

Salad dressing above and bulk grains below.

Fresh produce is donated to SFA by General Produce.

Lauri: How do clients receive the Emergency Food Box?

Denise: Once registered, clients come to the pantry on Wednesday and we check them in. They receive a list of the foods we have available and they select what they want. It's a grocery list of what we have available on that day. Volunteers gather their items while the client selects from available produce. There is a pound limit on produce that can vary from 5 to 15 pounds depending on the donations from General Produce.

The Emergency Food Box is meant to supply a household with a three-day supply of nutritionally balanced staples and fresh food. We respect people's dietary choices and needs. We offer as many vegetarian, vegan and organic options as are possible.

Lauri: Where does the food and money come from?

Denise: Grants, donations, food drives and fundraisers.SFA has many partnerships and diverse relationships that keep us in food. General Produce donates their #2 produce every week. That's the produce that has flaws or isn't good enough for the markets but is still good to eat. Grocery Outlet in Weed donates food that might be close to the expiration date. They also have an 'Independence from Hunger' campaign in July. Ray's Food Place has a similar drive through November & December called 'Stuff the Truck.' In both of these store campaigns, shoppers can purchase bags of food to be donated to the local emergency food pantry.

The Siskiyou Community Food Bank in Yreka helps to provide food for all the area pantries. We occasionally combine orders with them to purchase from Feeding America in Contra Costa (Bay Area). A local trucker volunteers to bring back the load for a fuel stipend.

Great Northern Services provides food as they can. SFA distributes two commodities programs for GNS. They also are transporting produce for us on Wednesday mornings.

Belcampo Farms has donated eggs when their markets can't absorb the quantities their hens are producing.

Fundraising campaigns that SFA conducts are the Run for Food 5k run/walk on Thanksgiving Day, and North State Giving Tuesday (held on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving).

A client volunteering some of her time to do some data entry in SFA's office at 780 S Davis Ave., Weed

Siskiyou Food Assistance Pantry is stocking up for Thanksgiving Dinner Boxes.

Lauri: One of your big programs are the Thanksgiving Boxes and what does it take to keep going?

Denise: It's a real community effort where we honor the wishes of our founders. The Broomfield's felt strongly that every family be blessed to celebrate the traditional holiday dinner in the comfort of their homes. We have been providing the box of fixings since 2001. This year we will make about 350 boxes. Each box costs us about $35. Partners include Grocery Outlet in Weed , Walmart in Yreka and local farms. We received a grant from the Ford Family Foundation and donations from Mercy Medical Center and Pilot Flying J Travel Centers.

Volunteers pack the boxes that are ready for pick up at the pantry. Anyone wanting a box should drive to our pantry well before 11am on November 19th. It is a first come, first served drive-up distribution. 

Zumba Instructor helping participants warm up so they can Run for Food. phot by Violet Carter

Lauri: How did the Run for Food come to be a fundraiser for SFA?

Denise: When I was still a board member, I saw the Run for Food in Chico. I found out the program could be duplicated by any communityso we did! We began the Weed Run for Food in 2011. It was fun and successful! We are now in our 8th year and it just gets better every year.

Lauri: Tell me more about what happens on Thanksgiving Day at the Run for Food?

Denise: We have a lot of different activities that make it fun for everyone. Every registered participant receives free raffle tickets. We try to get the very best of what this area has to offer for our raffle. Children aged 6-11 are free with participating adults. The first three finishers in each age group receive a medal. The top overall male and female finishers receive a special prize. A Zumba instructor gets the participants warmed-up before the run/walk begins. Refreshments are served at the finish line. There are stations throughout the race route to encourage runners and walkers. The route starts at the football field and circles around the COS campus on the Bear Trail returning to the football field.

The event logo is different each year. T-shirts are available with the current logo as a separate purchase at reasonable prices.

An amazing spirit of generosity and caring permeates the event. It's something that can't be manufactured. It's from the hearts of all those volunteering there and attending. Join us!

For more information and to register link here:

At the Run for Food finish line! photo by Violet Carter

SFA reuses shopping bags

To make a donation for North State Giving Tuesday:

(donations can be scheduled beginning Nov. 13th, and processed on Nov. 27th)

Denise found her favorite recipe in the November 2011 issue of Enjoy magazine. It was submitted by Lana Granfors.

Serves 4

Prep & cooking time: 40 minutes


2 tbsp olive oil

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

½ tsp salt

½ tsp white pepper

1 - 12 oz. package of dried spaghetti

2-4 soft-ripe Bosc pears (1 lb total)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup (5oz) crumbled gorgonzola or other blue-veined cheese

½ cup chopped parsley

½ cup chicken broth

½ tsp cornstarch

2/3 cup roasted pecans

½ cup chopped green onions

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Rub chicken breasts with salt and white pepper. Place chicken breasts in the hot skillet, and cook for about 10 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear. Set aside and slice breasts crosswise, ½ inch thick just before combining pasta.

Using a 5-6-quart pan, cook spaghetti according to package directions or until just barely tender to bite, 7-9 minutes. Drain and return to pan.

While pasta and chicken are cooking, cut each pear lengthwise into eighths; core pieces, and slice them crosswise ¼ inch thick. In a bowl, gently mix the pear slices, lemon juice, gorgonzola and parsley; set aside.

In a 1-2-quart pan over high heat, stir broth and cornstarch until boiling. Gently mix into drained spaghetti along with the pear mixture and sliced chicken. Transfer to a serving dish. Scatter pecans and green onions on top, and season to taste with salt and pepper.