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.

    April 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.

  • Why Aren’t the Presidential Candidates Talking About Food?, CARE2.COM
  • Have you wondered about this too?

  • The Cities Where a Six-Figure is Barely Enough to Get By, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
  • “The Bay Area housing crisis is so severe that a six-figure income might not be enough to find a place you can afford to live.”

  • School Success Starts With a Healthy Breakfast, MEDICALDAILY.COM
  • “Being able to provide nutritious meals for children each day opens doors up for an opportunity during key growth periods.” #hungerhurts

    Great turnout at our #MakeHungerHistory awards event! We’re having a blast showing our supporters #howthefoodbankworks

    A photo posted by Second Harvest Food Bank (@2ndharvest) on Apr 21, 2016 at 7:08pm PDT

  • Farmer Donates Harvest so People in Need Can Get Fresh Produce, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
  • We are so grateful for the many farmers that donate fresh produce to help feed our hungry neighbors

  • In Search of Cheaper Housing, Silicon Valley Workers Face Long Commutes, PENINSULAPRESS.COM
  • “It’s not just firefighters who are being priced out by Silicon Valley’s cost of living. As the Peninsula struggles to house a rapidly growing population, many people — especially the middle-class public servants and low-wage workers who keep the region running smoothly — have been moving away to more affordable places.”

  • Hunger Sending Some Americans to the Hospital, UPI.COM
  • “More than half of Americans with high rates of hospitalization either don’t have regular access to healthy food or are at risk of not having enough food at home”

  • 4 Men with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford, ESQUIRE.COM
  • So revealing

  • Facebook’s Sandberg Wants to End Hunger in Bay Area, NBCBAYAREA.COM
  • Thanks, Sheryl Sandberg, for supporting our Stand Up For Kids campaign! ‪#‎hungerhurts‬

  • These Kids Entrepreneurs Want to Save Food Banks, WASHINGTONPOST.COM
  • Love this story!

  • The Countless Ways Poverty Affects People’s Health, HEALTH.USNEWS.COM
  • “It seems like a paradox: increased hunger yet more obesity among poor people…’The cheapest food you can buy is usually empty calories – high-calorie, high-fat food.’”

    *** Read past Social Media Roundups.

    Local Hunger Fighters: Karen Martinez

    “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: Karen Martinez, Parent Center Manager at Alpha Public Schools

    Karen Martinez personally spearheaded the partnership between Alpha Public Schools and Second Harvest Food Bank to bring much needed food resources to the school’s families and its neighbors.  She oversees every monthly food distribution for nearly 300 families.

    Tometrius Paxton, Second Harvest Food Bank Partnership Manager said this about Karen: “She brings a kind heart and fierce fight in making sure underserved families and communities are connected with the food they need.  Karen’s ability to bring together parents, staff, community members, and students is an inspiration that should motivate everyone!”

    What inspires you to give?

    I’m inspired to give because I have a heart to serve my community.  When I’m able to fill such a basic need, it opens the doors to not only feed the tummy but mend hearts.

    Why should people care about hunger in our community?

    We should care about hunger in our community because when one is hungry focusing on anything else is almost impossible.

    Why do you support Second Harvest?

    Because the Second Harvest does more than feed families.  It gives hope to individuals and families who might have never felt a warm hug. I feel so fortunate to be able to give by feeding our neighbors that need help.

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

    Nutrition Newbie: Our New Healthy Food and Beverage Policy!

    “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

    We are so proud that Second Harvest has officially adopted a new Healthy Food and Beverage Policy!

    The food-insecure households we serve are at greater risk for chronic diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, than the average American. They also have fewer resources to manage those illnesses and obtain healthcare. Moreover, client surveys show that clients want more healthy food, specifically protein, fruits and vegetables. To best serve client health and preferences and successfully achieve our mission, we developed a strong Healthy Food and Beverage Policy. This Policy was created using client surveys, the latest nutrition initiatives and research, and nutrition policies of other leading food banks.

    The key long-term goals to achieve over the next three years are the following:

  • Maintain a 50+% distribution of fresh produce
  • Encourage and facilitate produce consumption through nutrition education, food sampling, and distributing essential cooking ingredients like oil and spices
  • Increase protein (including dairy) distribution to 24% of all pounds distributed
  • Focus grain purchases on low-sugar whole grains
  • Discontinue distribution of candy (which has never been purchased by the food bank, only donated)
  • Distribute only healthy beverages
  • Writing the policy required significant collaboration between all of the departments in Second Harvest- from Nutrition to Marketing to Volunteer Services to Food Resources, the list goes on! This is because we have to review all of our practices for acquiring and distributing food to effectively increase the nutritional quality of our food mix. From the Nutrition perspective, it was incredibly inspiring to work so closely with staff across the organization and affirm again and again the strong dedication and passion that everyone has for best serving clients.

    Now that the Policy has been passed, it’s time to implement it and one of our key partners that we will be working with is…YOU! Your donations of food are a key source of the food we share with clients. Therefore, if you’re thinking about what food might be most helpful to donate, please consider giving food that can help us to achieve our goals, including the following:

  • Plant-based cooking oil and spices
  • Healthy protein items (canned fish, nut butters, beans)
  • Low-sugar whole grains (cereals, granola, whole wheat pasta, brown rice)
  • Fruits and vegetables (canned and fresh)
  • Please also consider leaving candy and sugar-sweetened beverages at home rather than bringing them to the Food Bank. Thank you so much for your help in serving our clients to keep our community healthy! If you have any questions or comments about the Policy, we would love to hear them!

    Too Hungry to Learn: 2016 Hunger Action Summit Recap

    At last month’s Hunger Action Summit, an annual forum that sparks conversation and inspires action to end local hunger, speakers addressed what it will take to ensure that the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs has access to the nutritious food they need to succeed academically. Organized by Second Harvest Food Bank and Santa Clara University, the summit is sponsored by Bank of America and Santa Clara University’s Food and Agribusiness Institute, part of the Leavey School of Business, and held at the university’s Locatelli Center.

    One in three kids struggles with hunger in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Studies show that kids who don’t get enough nutritious food to eat have a harder time concentrating and doing well in school, which often translates into lower grades and fewer job opportunities.  Making sure kids get enough to eat could help close the academic achievement gap that exists between less-advantaged kids and their wealthier counterparts.

    The summit brought together education leaders, anti-hunger advocates, and food policy experts. Celebrated author and educator Chef Ann Cooper, known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” also addressed the crowd, forwarding her mission to make school meals healthier.

    The Hunger Index, released during the summit every year, measures the gap between how many meals are needed for residents to eat three meals a day and how many meals they purchased on their own or acquired through federal food-assistance programs such as CalFresh or local organizations like Second Harvest.

    S. Andrew Starbird, director of the My Own Business Institute at Santa Clara University and co-creator of the Hunger Index, reported that, despite the soaring economy, the 2014 Hunger Index was virtually unchanged, with a meal gap of 175 million meals in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties compared to 176 million meals in 2013.

    Visit the 2016 Hunger Action Summit page on to view the full agenda, access archived livestream of the summit, and download presentations.

    Local Hunger Fighters: Marie Lawton

    “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: Marie Lawton, Family Harvest Program Volunteer

    How are you helping Second Harvest and our community?

    I help Second Harvest in any way that I can. I mainly help with data entry like processing client applications. I also assist with anything that the Family Harvest department needs help with. I’m more behind the scenes but I feel I’m supporting the community by being a part of an organization that does so much good for the less fortunate. I believe that in order for a community to thrive, all of its citizens should be supported. Some people just need a little help.

    What inspires you to give?

    I’m inspired to give because I’m an empathetic person. I have a big heart and I want to be of service to anybody that needs it. Having kindness and compassion for others is the only way I know how to be. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life but I will never forget where I came from and and how hard it was to get to where I am now. I’m in a position where I have the time to be of service to others. I’m always looking for ways to help others and give back to my community. I believe if you are able to help, it’s your duty to do so.

    Why should people care about hunger in our community?

    People should care because hunger and malnutrition are a health risk. Malnutrition can cause all kinds of mental and physical issues including death. We live in a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone. Basic nutrition is a human right. A thriving community is a community where all of its people are as healthy as possible and it all starts with nutrition.

    Why do you support Second Harvest?

    I support Second Harvest because I was once in the same position as our clients. I grew up a poor kid on welfare raised by a single mom (one of five kids). We were lucky enough to have food in the house but if it wasn’t for assistance we would have gone without. I believe in what Second Harvest does for people and I want to be a part of that in any way that I can.

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