Nutrition Newbie: Ugly Fruit Gets a Makeover

“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.

Special Blog Post By: Elena Hollander, Second Harvest Food Bank Community Nutrition Manager

At Second Harvest, we are so lucky to be able to distribute more fresh fruits and vegetables than any other food bank in the country! One reason we’re able to accomplish this is because farmers and grocery stores give us produce items that might be “cosmetically challenged.” Our produce could be a bit bruised, overripe, oddly shaped, or too big or small to sell in retail grocery markets.

We LOVE these “ugly” fruits and veggies not only because they generally have the same nutrients and taste as their picture perfect counterparts, but also because they help cut down on food waste (40% of food in the United States today goes uneaten), are more affordable, and make meals much more interesting.

That being said, sometimes it’s tough to convince people to munch on produce items like blackened bananas or apples with brown spots. That’s why we created this guide to giving ugly produce, particularly fruit, a makeover! Hopefully this will help you feel confident in enjoying ugly fruit, whether it’s from the Food Bank, a farmers market, your backyard, or it has simply aged a bit past its prime in your home.

Overripe/Bruised Fruit

Fruit becomes overripe when the starch starts converting to sugar. The good news is that this means that overripe fruit tends to be sweet and thus perfect for making healthy sweet treats. Another fun fact is that sometimes overripe fruit can have even more antioxidants.

Here are a few types of recipes to use overripe/bruised fruit:

  • Jams- Jams can really be done with any overripe fruit, but are particularly good with berries and stone fruits like peaches and apricots, which are in season right now! Here’s a great website for some easy jam recipes that use these fruits.
  • Breads- Blueberry and banana bread are classic recipes and make a wonderful breakfast on the go or dessert.
  • Smoothies- Practically any overripe fruit can make a delicious smoothie. Just toss whatever you have in the blender with ice and water. You can even throw in some veggies, like a handful of spinach, if you want an extra shot of nutrients.
  • Sauces- Applesauce and pear sauce are great ways to use ripe apples and pears. Simply boil them with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and then blend them until you get the desired consistency.
  • Popsicles/Ice Cubes- During these hot summer months, there’s nothing more refreshing than a cool fruit popsicle. Simply blend the fruit in the blender to the desired consistency, pour it into popsicle trays, and stick in a popsicle stick to let it freeze. You can save some of the blended mixture and put it into ice cube trays to make ice that adds a splash of color and fresh flavor to water.

Oddly Shaped/Sized Fruit

Don’t be afraid of fruit that is weirdly shaped or bigger or smaller than you see in the grocery store. It’s natural and healthy to have variation in sizes and shapes- just like with people! For fruit, unless it’s small because it was picked before ripening, the size and shape does not generally impact taste or nutrients.

If you find oddly shaped/sized fruit unappealing, there are some easy ways to make that fruit look fabulous. Many of the same techniques we described for overripe/bruised fruit can be used, but you can also simply cut the fruit into nice shapes like circles or wedges. If you blend cut fruits into a colorful fruit salad, it makes it more enticing and you get a variety of vitamins in one plate!

We hope this article has inspired you to see the beauty in ugly fruit! If you want an easy place to look up particular recipes for the ideas we mentioned, one website we like is EatFresh. We’d also love to hear from you- what are your ideas for using ugly fruit? Let us know!

***Read our past Nutrition Newbie posts.

Shining a Spotlight on Our Partner Agencies

Second Harvest provides food to nearly a quarter million people per month in our two counties.  This is largely possible thanks to our awesome network of nearly 330 partner agencies, including shelters, pantries, soup kitchens, children’s programs, senior meal sites, and residential programs, located as far north as Daly City and as far south as Gilroy.

On May 13, 2016, we hosted our 10th Annual Harvest of Knowledge Partner Conference, sponsored by Oracle, in Redwood City. The conference was a day of learning and sharing new ways to connect with hard to reach clients, improve services, and celebrate our local leaders making a difference.

Every year, we give out a handful of awards to shine a spotlight on partner agencies and individuals who do exceptional work in our community. Below are this year’s inspiring honorees.

Putting People First Award
“The Putting People First Award” recognizes one organization in each county who serve their community members in need of food with an exceptional level of customer service. Health Trust – Jerry Larson FOODBasket and Ravenswood City School District received this year’s award.

  • The Health Trust Jerry Larson FOODBasket is committed to strengthening the health of its clients by providing nutrition services and engagement opportunities for volunteers while maximizing donor and partners’ contributions. During our 16 years of partnership, this agency has provided services to our community members with respect and integrity. They spearheaded a senior brown bag program with fresh produce to four remote centers; have increased their hours of service; added a Saturday pickup for their AIDS Services clients; and have volunteers bring excess food to the Food Bank.
  • Ravenswood City School District has gone above and beyond to ensure their eight schools and community families are served in a very respectful and dignified manner. They distribute food twice a month to neighbors in need. They’ve also worked with Second Harvest to establish an emergency food pantry for their school families that can’t attend their distributions due to work or other obligations. Over the past three years, they have participated in the Summer Feeding Program at three of their school sites, working with a collaborative group of community partners to provide nutritious, hot meals to students and their parents/guardians during summer enrichment programs.
  • Outstanding Grocery Rescue Partner Award
    “The Outstanding Grocery Rescue Partner Award” recognizes one organization in each county that adheres to the terms of The Grocery Rescue agreement, including maintaining a set pick-up schedule, submitting reports on-time, and having a great relationship with their paired stores. In addition, there is usually something unique about the agencies chosen. This year, the award goes to Ecumenical Hunger Program and Sacred Heart Community Service.

  • Ecumenical Hunger Program’s mission is to assist local families and individuals who are experiencing economic and personal hardship. The organization has participated in the Grocery Rescue program for 4 years. They saw big growth in a year and a half, from partnering with one retail store to four retail stores.  EHP has dedicated staff drivers who are knowledgeable and provide great customer service and salesmanship to the stores.
  • Sacred Heart Community Service’s mission is to build a community free from poverty by creating hope, opportunity, and action. The nonprofit has excellent communication with both the assigned stores and the food bank. They consistently submit accurate and timely weekly reports and successfully train and manage volunteers. Dupe Thomas and her team are enthusiastic, caring, and dedicated to helping our neighbors in need.
  • The Ultimate Food Connector Award
    “The Ultimate Food Connector Award” recognizes one organization in each county that stands out in connecting clients to all of the food programs they may be eligible for. This year’s award recipients are SparkPoint at Skyline College and the Salvation Army – Silicon Valley.

  • Pantry partner SparkPoint at Skyline College has been a Food Bank partner for six years. They help college students with nutrition, financial planning, and accessing all the benefits they may be eligible for so they can stay in school and reach their full potential. SparkPoint advocates and follows up with eligible clients to make sure they get the benefits they applied for with the Food Bank and the County.
  • The Salvation Army Silicon Valley has been a Food Connection Outreach partner for eight years. They help with safety net needs – food, rental ,and utility bill assistance. They host the Food Bank and County Eligibility Workers on site to expedite CalFresh enrollment – they even built office space so both representatives are able to work close by each other.
  • McCown-Takalo Hunger Hero Award
    Recipients of the McCown-Takalo Hunger Hero Award exemplify the following values: honesty, compassion, integrity; long term commitment; spokesperson for the underserved; always puts the needs of the clients first; and tenacity.  This year, the award goes to AnnMarie Zimmerman, Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen and George Chippendale, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of San Mateo County.

  • Loaves & Fishes has filled a compelling community void by providing free, hot, nutritious meals for 36 years. Under AnnMarie Zimmerman’s leadership, she has helped them reinvent themselves to meet the ever changing needs of the Bay Area community. In keeping with the spirit of innovation, Loaves & Fishes is calling this evolution Soup Kitchen 2.0.  In 2014-2015, they served 154,000 guests with 10 staff and 6,000+ volunteers. In 2016, they are on track with serving over 350,000 meals!
  • “AnnMarie is fun, sensitive, passionate, collaborative, strategic thinker, strong and steady,” said Cindy McCown, Second Harvest Vice President of Community Engagement and Policy. “She fosters an organizational culture that is inclusive, honoring the contributions of their guests, volunteers and staff.” [Note: AnnMarie was unable to make it to the event, so her staff accepted the award on her behalf.]

  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul of San Mateo County’s George Chippendale lives the values of the award each and every day. He is incredibly honest and compassionate with his volunteers and those he serves. He does everything with incredible integrity. He has been doing it with passion for longer than Cindy and Susan’s 31 years at Second Harvest. He is the first person to speak up with a question or express a concern. He always puts people first.
  • Susan Takalo, Second Harvest Director of Community Partnerships, can’t count how many times she’s heard him question the rules about rental assistance.  “He is an amazing advocate for his long-term home of East Palo Alto,” said Susan. “He lobbied vigorously for a local shelter so those without housing didn’t have to go to San Mateo or Sunnyvale. He just never gives up.”


    Our partner agencies inspire us every day with their commitment to ending local hunger and believing in this year’s conference theme – “putting people first.”

    Giving Time: Pat Putnam

    “Giving Time” focuses on the invaluable volunteers who donate more than 314,000 hours to Second Harvest each year, more than doubling the size of our staff.

    Special Blog Post featuring Pat Putnam, Development Operations Volunteer, as told to Matt Mastrangelo of Second Harvest Food Bank.

    I’ve been volunteering at Second Harvest for about 12 years.

    I’ve always believed in what was going on with Second Harvest and its mission to feed people in need. If you’re a donor, one of the easiest ways to find out if your money is doing any good is to volunteer for that organization and see how it works. I’ve always been donor. One day I just called them up. They asked is this just for the holiday season and I said no, something more permanent. I started out one day a week. Now I’m here three days a week about five hours a day.

    I don’t deal with the food. I’m weak. (laughs) I can’t lift. So, I verify matching gifts, cleanup the database, including name changes, address changes, returned mail and more. I make sure we don’t send out duplicate mailings so that we’re not using valuable resources that can go toward helping people in need. This is important to the Food Bank’s bottom line. I make sure Michael Jones and Mike Jones are the same person and add a note to the database.

    It’s also valuable to have a volunteer do this work, because it can be time consuming. Having me do this work also impacts the bottom line. I can do the research to solve a problem, and I’m cheap, too. I work for coffee! (laughs)

    I believe in the cause, I like the way Second Harvest uses their volunteers. They find people’s talents, and then they move that person into an area where it can be mutually beneficial for both the volunteer and Second Harvest. And volunteering is a two-way street. My daughter will tell anyone that the Food Bank does more for me than I do for it.

    ***If you’d like to volunteer at Second Harvest, visit

    May Social Media Roundup

    “Social Media Round-Up” is an ‘ICYMI’ compilation of the top hunger-related news articles and other interesting tidbits posted on our social media profiles.

  • Starbucks Finally Starts to Donate All of its Unsold Food. But Donating Isn’t as Easy as It Seems., FORBES.COM
  • Perishable prepared food donations are a bit more challenging for nonprofits to accept and distribute. Thanks to a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, we’ve hired consultants to help us figure out if and how we should manage these kinds of donations.

  • America Doesn’t Have a Food Problem. It Has a Hunger Problem., VOX.COM
  • “An estimated one in seven Americans faced inadequate or inconsistent access to food at some point in 2014.”

  • The Poor and Middle Class are Fleeing America’s Booming Cities, QZ.COM
  • “The cities riding major economic booms are losing the greatest proportion of their poor and middle class residents. Two of the top three most expensive areas for renters—San Jose, Calif., and Silver Spring, Md.—saw the greatest exodus for those earning $60,000 or less.”

  • California Agriculture Contributes Record Amount of Farm Products to Food Banks, PLANTINGSEEDSBLOG.CDFA.CA.GOV
  • Last year, we acquired about 29.5 million pounds of fresh produce through California Association of Food Banks’ Farm to Family program!

  • Hungry Childhoods Carry Long-Term Impact, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • “In a month, millions of school-age children will be leaving the security of their schools — and school-provided breakfasts and lunches — for homes that don’t have enough food in them.” ‪‬

  • Million-Dollar Homes: The New Norm in the Bay Area, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • “In San Francisco and Silicon Valley, there’s about a 50 percent chance that it’s worth $1 million or more.” Yep, that’s our reality.

  • The Poor Pay More For Everyday Purchases – and It’s Getting Worse, a New Study Warns, WASHINGTONPOST.COM
  • “After 20 years, for example, every dollar in the pocket of a poor consumer would be worth just 88 cents compared to what a wealthier consumer would be able to buy with it at the grocery store, given the differences in inflation and in both consumers’ preferences.”

  • Silicon Valley’s Middle Class is Shrinking as Wealthy Prosper, MONEY.CNN.COM
  • “While jobs are more plentiful and pay better in Silicon Valley than in other parts of the state, the higher cost of living still leaves many middle class and lower-income residents in a bind. ‘Even if you are paid more on the job, you are still falling behind at a faster rate than the state and the nation,’ [California Budget & Policy Center Executive Director Chris] Hoene said.”

    *** Read past Social Media Roundups.

    Local Hunger Fighters: Julie Hosfeldt

    “Local Hunger Fighters” is a series that spotlights our awesome supporters and staff who help raise awareness of hunger in our community and motivate people to get involved.

    Local Hunger Fighter: Julie Hosfeldt, WIC Staff Member

    Here’s a note from our Food Connection staff: “Julie has been a fabulous partner to us; we go to the WIC clinic every Wednesday. She always helps to make sure the young children on the coast of San Mateo County have all of the nutrition resources available to them, including CalFresh and other Food Bank programs.”

    How are you helping Second Harvest and our community end hunger?
    As a dietitian for the Women, Infants and Children Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC), I regularly refer clients to Second Harvest’s services. WIC provides basic food staples for families, and Second Harvest helps them supplement those foods.

    What inspires you to give?
    Nourishment is a basic need. There is no excuse for hunger and malnourishment in the U.S., but the reality is that they have always existed. It is a personal mission of mine to contribute as much nutrition expertise as possible to help families overcome these issues.

    Why should people care about hunger in our community?
    Proper nutrition is the basis for an excellent quality of life: good physical health, sharp mental functioning, longevity, avoidance of chronic disease. Hunger and malnourishment costs all of us and our society, most noticeably in the form of skyrocketing health care costs.

    Why do you support Second Harvest?
    It is an amazing organization! By working together and strengthening our collective resources, I believe we can accomplish so much more to help our families achieve a healthier and more food secure lifestyle.

    ***Meet more of your neighbors working to end hunger in our community.

    An Invitation to Join Sheryl Sandberg

    Special Blog Post By: Sheryl Sandberg, “Stand Up For Kids” Campaign Fundraising Council Co-Chair

    1 in 3 kids in Silicon Valley is at risk of hunger.

    Often, hunger is invisible. An elementary teacher in San Jose asked her class to write down their favorite meal for dinner, but one boy didn’t know what to write. He asked her: “Is dinner the meal that most families have when the sun goes down? Because we don’t have that meal in our house.” At another school, staff noticed that on Fridays kids were going through the garbage looking for leftovers, because they knew that on the weekend they wouldn’t get school meals.

    That’s happening here, in Silicon Valley, in 2016. And it can be devastating. Hunger hurts our children and our community – it makes it harder for kids to do well in school and succeed in life.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. In a world full of problems we can’t solve, this is one that we can. We have an unbelievably efficient local food bank — Second Harvest. Just 50 cents can provide a nutritious meal to a child in need. And as part of this month’s Stand Up for Kids campaign, every dollar donated will be matched with $2 from campaign leaders like me.

    Your gift will help expand Second Harvest’s partnership with local schools, such as Sacred Heart Nativity School. Sonya Arriola, their President, noticed the impact of their partnership almost immediately; she told me that as soon as she could provide more nutritious food to their students, they started seeing academic improvements.

    Let’s make sure every child in our community has the nutritious food they need to reach their full potential in school and life.

    ***To ensure that no child at risk goes hungry, the Stand Up for Kids campaign leaders are now matching every $1 you donate before May 31st with $2 – donate today!

    SNAP Challenge: A Challenge Taker’s Reflections

    Special Blog Post By: Gabe Hakim, Stanford Graduate School of Business Class of 2016

    We learned that fifteen students from Stanford Graduate School of Business took on the SNAP Challenge in April – they wanted to experience what it’s like eating on the equivalent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (i.e., food stamps). Encouraging others to take on the challenge with them, students wrote a series of articles sharing logistics, tracking tools, and menu planning.

    Gabe Hakim took on the SNAP Challenge and shares what he learned.

    I chose to participate in the SNAP challenge for 5 days. My biggest learning so far: it’s hard. The difficulty began before I even started the challenge when I took my 5-day budget of $22.50 to Safeway to purchase food. I quickly realized that snacks and desserts would not be an option, nor were fresh fruits, veggies, or meats. To get the biggest bang for my buck, I’d have to stick with the same meal option all five days: yogurt and granola for breakfast, black bean quesadillas for lunch, and fried eggs, apples and peanut butter for dinner.

    Shopping was just the beginning of my newfound difficulties. I quickly realized just how much I look forward to eating. By day two, I was despondent over the thought that I would have the exact same meals as the day before. I also lost time. Instead of picking up a quick bite at the GSB, I had to schedule time to get home and prepare lunch. Doing the same for dinner consumed at least one extra hour of the day.

    Perhaps most humbling, however, was the social detachment. I couldn’t meet friends for lunch or coffee because I had no money left from my budget. Those who know me know I regularly indulge in a $2 froyo in the cafeteria. Not being able to afford even this simple pleasure made me want it more, made me resentful of those who could, and left me lacking the dignity that comes with the freedom of having choices.

    Still, I chose to participate in this challenge. Not only did I elect to inflict this temporary pain but I have a clear sense of when it’s going to end and I still have control over every other part of my life. I took the SNAP challenge to try to experience hunger from the perspective of someone with far less agency: a child. Sadly, 25% of children in the U.S. are growing up in poverty. That’s 16 million children! Half of American children in public schools are food insecure and experience hunger regularly. These children don’t retain the choices, agency, and dignity that I do as I participate in this challenge. It’s just their daily reality. The most disturbing outcome is that nearly half of our country’s population starts life starved (physically and emotionally) during the most critical period of development.

    This isn’t their choice. And I can’t accept any ideology that suggests they deserved it. So, whether it be framed as a matter of lost economic potential, a crisis of public health, a threat to educational achievement, or a failed moral imperative—why haven’t we addressed it?

    *** Interested in taking on the SNAP Challenge? Here’s how it works – and get tips and resources.

    To the Rescue! Rescuing Food for Our Neighbors in Need

    Special Blog Post By: Sam Greenberg, Food Resources Representative

    Over the past several months, I have been delivering personalized appreciation and a message of THANKS to our Grocery Rescue retail donors such as Walmart, Target, Sprouts Farmers Market and Lucky Supermarkets. In 2015, our 75+ retail donors donated more than 4 million pounds of grocery products through our Grocery Rescue Program!

    Our Grocery Rescue program recovers a variety of nutritious and healthy food items from local grocery retailers that would have otherwise gone to waste. The donated product mix includes meat, dairy, produce, bakery, prepared food, dry grocery and non-food items. Second Harvest coordinates donation pickups at participating retailers, which are picked up by a Food Bank truck or by one of our authorized partner agencies. Through the Grocery Rescue program, retailers can save money, eliminate waste and help nourish our community.

    In my role as Food Resources Representative, I manage both the relationship with our retail donors and our authorized partner agencies and conduct on-going trainings to ensure all food safety and compliance guidelines are met. I also work internally with our Transportation and Partnership teams with a goal of providing our donors great service.

    What I love most about my position is witnessing the full circle of this program, from on-boarding a new retailer or agency, to seeing the benefits of waste reduction at store-level, to watching the donated grocery product being distributed to our clients.

    Second Harvest Food Bank is so thankful for each and every one of our retail donors who continue to support our mission by providing food for the people in need in our community.

    *** Learn more about our Grocery Rescue program.

    Nutrition Newbie: Make Your Environment Your Personal Gym

    “Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.

    Special Blog Post By: Alex Navarro, Community Nutrition Educator

    May is the kickoff to National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. So for those who may have put their January resolution goals in the back burner, now is the time to get active again! This is a great month to begin healthy habits such as eating healthier and moving more. We all have heard of the great benefits that physical activity can add to our life, and on the flipside, we have also heard all of the excuses (mine included) of not having the time for it. Here are some healthy tips to get you started, and some post-workout snacks to refuel your body. Remember to start slow, focus on one goal at a time, and always, always try to involve the whole family.

    The countless benefits…

    We all know that physical fitness is essential for optimal health, and also helps maintain a healthy weight. Being physically active can also lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, improve muscular fitness and bone health. For older adults, it can lower the risk of falls and improve cognitive function. And for young children, research shows that when children are physically active, they achieve higher grades and have better test scores, and school attendance and behavior is improved.

    When the gym is not an option…

    Try to make your daily environment your personal gym. But how? No need to spend money on expensive equipment or all of your time at a crowded gym. Here are a few tweaks you can start today. Trust me, the small steps all add up.

    Park farther- How many times do we drive around a parking lot just to find the closest parking spot? Try parking farther away to get more steps in your day. The steps really do add up at the end of the week.

    Take the stairs – Makes perfect sense. Why sit and wait for a crowded elevator when you can take the stairs and work on your cardiovascular health and leg strength.

    Go outside – Whether it’s a nearby community park, a hiking trail, or just around your neighborhood, the outdoors will not only clear your mind, but the physical activity options can be endless; go on a bike ride, take a brisk walk, or throw a ball around with your kids.

    Take a lunch walk – Do you have a sedentary office job? Grab some coworkers and take a walk to help break up the day. Even a 5-10 minute walk a few times during the day will improve concentration and keep you better focused to tackle your workload.

    Use what’s at home – Water bottles, dining room chairs, your children’s toys… If you look around your house, you will be sure to find objects to safely use for resistance weight training or to get a good stretch in.

    How much physical activity is recommended…?

    It is recommended that children get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, at least five days a week. For adults, the recommended amount is a minimum of 30 minutes a day for at least five days. Keep in mind that the 30 minutes can be divided during the day. For example, 10 minute walk during lunch, 5 minutes of playing tag with your kids, and 15 minutes of cardio in your living room.

    Confused about what to eat after your workout…?

    Your body had been working hard, so you need to replenish your fuel with a right balance of protein and carbohydrates. Don’t forget to hydrate with water! Though protein bars may sound like a convenient snack when you’re on the go, they may not be the best choice. Even though their wrappers should make it easy to think that they’re healthy, that may be far from the truth. In reality, they could have even MORE calories, more saturated fats, and more (hidden) sugar than a candy bar.

    Just take a look yourself. Below is an ingredient list for one popular brand post-workout bar.

    Cost: $3.09.
    Protein Blend (Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Coating (Maltitol Powder, Palm Kernel Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate, Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Calcium Carbonate, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Sucralose), Hydrolyzed Collagen, Vegetable Glycerin, Soy Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Milk Chocolate Drops (Sugar, Whole Milk Powder, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Maltitol Syrup, Water, Maltodextrin, Canola Oil, Cocoa Powder, Natural Flavors, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin And Mineral Blend (Ascorbic Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, D-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Niacinamide, Tricalcium Phosphate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin), Sucralose, Xanthan Gum, Peanut Flour, Soy Lecithin, Almond Meal.
    This product contains sugar alcohols, which may cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Excessive consumption may have a laxative effect.

    Or… for a fraction of the price, you can make some healthier alternatives right in your own kitchen. Here are some of my favorites to make. And kids love them too! Click on the links below for the full recipes.

    No Bake Energy Bites: peanut butter, rolled oats, coconut flakes, honey or agave, chia or flax seeds, cacao nibs or chocolate chips (optional).

    Quinoa Berry Smoothie: cooked quinoa, yogurt, berries, banana, and honey.

    Avocado and Egg Toast: Whole wheat bread, avocado, egg, olive oil, lemon juice, chia seeds.

    So this month, make sure to enjoy some sunshine and get moving! Let’s start today, one step at a time!

    We’d love to hear what your favorite go-to snack is after your workout.

    ***Read our past Nutrition Newbie posts.

    SNAP Challenge: One Week. $4.50 Per Day. And You.

    Special Blog Post By: Lisa Mazzocco, Stanford Graduate School of Business Class of 2016

    We learned that fifteen students from Stanford Graduate School of Business took on the SNAP Challenge in April – they wanted to experience what it’s like eating on the equivalent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (i.e., food stamps). Encouraging others to take on the challenge with them, students wrote a series of articles sharing logistics, tracking tools, and menu planning.

    Interested in taking on the SNAP Challenge? Lisa Mazzocco’s lays out the challenge and why it matters.

    Why the SNAP Challenge?

    Because you’re reading this, we bet you have an interest in healthy living, and maybe even in helping others achieve that. Fortunately and ironically, though, few of us can say what life’s actually like at the neediest level. So we thought – why not find out? Let’s…

  • Examine what would be different about our abilities – physical, mental, emotional – if we had to eat with these constraints
  • Raise awareness of the true value and cost of food
  • Get insight on a huge market (2016 SNAP budget = $83 billion) in need of innovation, and where even simple ideas have big business potential
  • I’m in! How does this work?

  • Spend up to $4.50 per day on food (including dining out), for up to seven consecutive days. Calculate the $4.50 pro-rated based on what you consume that day – we built this handy budget tracking tool to help you
  • Eat as healthy as possible, keeping in mind that this is how many people eat every day, whereas you can make up for lost nutrients next week
  • Avoid eating free food or beverage to which folks on SNAP benefits wouldn’t have access (ex. on-campus lunches, office espresso machine)
  • Try to only eat food that you purchase for the project. If you eat food that you already have at home, account for it in your SNAP budget (pro-rated based on amount you consume)
  • Refrain from items SNAP participants wouldn’t normally purchase, even if it fits into your pro-rated budget (ex. a SNAP user probably wouldn’t consume almond butter, or coffee that sells for $15/lb)
  • Your SNAP shopping list and meal plan: How-to

    $4.50 a day doesn’t sound like much. But with some smarts and planning, it can go a long way. Here’s how to shop:

    Step 1: Get sales flyers from local grocery stores and find the deals that week.

    Step 2: Plan your menu for the week, using the deal items and your own nutritional needs as inputs for meal selection. Round out your shopping list with other necessary items*, and before you head to the store, see where your total comes out. Lucky for you there are oodles of great resources to help plan meals, including:

  • Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day – includes cost/serving estimate
  • USDA SNAP recipe search – includes cost/serving estimate
  • *Remember, you CAN use items already in your household, as long as 1) you account in your budget for how much of them you eat, 2) they are items that someone on SNAP could reasonably purchase.

    In addition, consistent with what SNAP users have access to, the following do NOT count against your $4.50/day budget:

  • Coffee/tea available for free at your workplace/residence. But steer clear of the espresso maker, fancy milk alternatives, and other beverages, even if they’re normally free to you.
  • Free food at church/religious events. We don’t advocate posing as something you’re not to get a meal – but since food is often offered at faith gatherings, which (by and large) don’t make socioeconomic exclusions, this is fair game for SNAP users and also for you.
  • Typical food pantry allowance. These items comprise a typical week’s selection at SF-Marin Food Bank pantries, free if using SNAP and so allowable outside your budget (see “starter shopping list”).
  • Step 3: Go shopping! Buy in bulk where possible, weigh your produce, use coupons, choose store brands, and watch the checkout to make sure items are charged correctly.

    Step 4: Test your meal plan and track your spend in our handy budget tracker, accounting only for the amount you consume.

    *** Are you taking on the SNAP Challenge? Share your experience with us on our Facebook page.