“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.
In this special edition of our “Local Hunger Fighters” series, we’re featuring three members of our Food Connection Hotline and Field staff. Second Harvest Food Bank has made a commitment to ensure everyone who needs a meal in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties can get one. Some of our neighbors don’t know about the resources available. The Food Bank has dedicated seventeen staff in our region to connect people in need to healthy food resources and the CalFresh program. Staff goes to libraries, community centers, medical clinics, apartment complexes and special community events, in addition to Food Bank partner organization food distributions. Each one of our Outreach Team members brings great compassion to their work. They are a special group, connecting thousands of people each year to food, and hope.
How are you helping Second Harvest and our community?
Sylvia Pandza, Food Connection Outreach Coordinator since 2011:
“When I share the information about all the free food resources that Second Harvest offer, I am not only giving our community an opportunity to stretch their budget, but also the opportunity to eat better, and healthier. When I moved to California, I was amazed to see that the ‘dream-land’ also battles hunger. The difference here is that resources exist, such as those provided through Second Harvest Food Bank, with a mission of providing food where needed ending hunger. I have been a client and received these free food resources. Receiving the support when I needed it made me stronger. I love being part of this mission and bringing good news to my community about the food resources they can be eligible for.”
What inspires you to do this work?
Aida Crosby, Food Connection Specialist since 2014:
“My family of six went through a very difficult period during my husband’s two-years of unemployment. All of our savings were used up in less than a year and then we were hungry, we did not have any money for gas, food, and all services in our household were cut to the bare minimum. Our children’s grades began to suffer and they went to school hungry sometimes. My oldest son lost 30 pounds in less than three months. We had to water our soup many times. Our church started to help us a little bit, and some families would donate money so we could afford to have food.
One day, as I was taking the family to be seen at the Foothill health clinic, Alejandra –a Second Harvest Food Bank Outreach Specialist- had a table at the clinic and I learned about all the services of the Food Bank, and how they sign people for CalFresh (Food Stamps). Our family started receiving almost $800 for food through CalFresh over the next six months. I later applied for an open Outreach Specialist position for the Food Bank. The Second Harvest CalFresh Outreach program literally saved my family. Until we experienced our own need and I began to work for the Food Bank, I was not aware of so much need and the incredible hardships families and individuals are subjected to in Silicon Valley. In a way, I am glad that it happened because it gave me the understanding and knowledge to be the best conduit possible to help families.”
Why should people care about hunger in our community?
Huong Nguyen, social worker and Food Connection Specialist since 2011:
“A child cannot concentrate in school and will not be able to learn and grow into the person they can become. Even for working adults, they cannot focus on making enough income to care for their family. Hunger makes everyone, at any age, weak.”
***Click here to meet more people working to end hunger in our community.