Local Hunger Fighters: Angela Waters

“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 Fighters: Angela Waters, Recreation Program Director, City of Daly City

How are you helping Second Harvest and our community?
I help by facilitating two programs – Brown Bag and Produce Mobile programs at Lincoln Community Center in Daly City. Between the two programs, we serve 650 residents of Daly City. When a senior, family, or individual asks about food services in the county, I share the programs provided by Second Harvest, including Brown Bag, Produce Mobile, Family Harvest, Snack program, the congregate lunch program for seniors, Daly Community Services Food Pantry, North Peninsula Food Pantry & Dining Center of Daly City, and even the St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry. Oftentimes, residents are unaware of the number of services provided by the Food Bank.

I am also a member of the Second Harvest Food Bank Advisory Committee, reviewing potential applicants looking to provide food resources to program participants, non-profits, faith-based communities, and educational institutions. It is fascinating, the number of people that Second Harvest touches throughout both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Without this resource, many families would have to choose between rent, medication, and other basic needs or healthy foods.

What inspires you to give?
It is difficult to be on the receiving end of services. When anyone comes to Lincoln Community Center and asks for help, I help them, whether it is food, services, or programs. I help because someone took the time to help me. If we fail to help fellow man, we are doomed. If I can affect one family or individual, this might inspire that person to do the same when he or she is in a better position to give. A quote from Gandhi is, “We must be the change we want to see.” Giving of time, services, and resources is something that comes full circle. It is simply me treating others the way I would like to be treated. At some point in our lives, we all need help, and as a recipient of assistance for a short period in my life, it is my pleasure to extend the same kindness through giving. The “Golden Rule” is a priority in my life.

Why should people care about hunger in our community?
Because it is a basic need among all people. When an individual is hungry, nothing else matters. The laws and rules do not matter. Hurting other people doesn’t matter. They must first satisfy their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, & safety. When these things are not intact, nothing else matters. Communities must take care of those in need because when people aren’t taken care of, the community may be affected by the actions of those in need.

Why do you support Second Harvest?
Second Harvest is an organization that cares for the needs of others. It is an organization that puts its money where its mouth is. When the Food Bank says they are going to attempt to end hunger, I believe that if any group is going to do it, this is the organization that will get it done.

When I think of my professional world without the Food Bank, I have very little to offer. Second Harvest is all over the City of Daly City; in our school, community centers, non-profit organizations, and faith-based, organizations. Second Harvest employees sit on boards of the schools. It partners with big, medium, and small groups – businesses that move hundreds and thousands of pounds of food every day!

I support Second Harvest because they are the change I hope to see in our counties, state and world – true pioneers as they continue to grow and change the lives of our communities!

*Angela Waters received the McCown-Takalo Ending Hunger Advocacy Award at our 2015 Harvest of Knowledge Partner Conference.

***Want to meet more people working to end hunger in our community? Click here to read past Local Hunger Fighters posts.

Kids: Authors Of Their Own Food Stories – Part 2

Special Blog Post by: Jessica Washburn, Writer and Food Educator

In last month’s blog post, I wrote about my work with Second Harvest to facilitate a creative writing class for 5th and 6th graders at the nonprofit after school program, Redwood City Police Activities League. Completed in the fall of 2014, the class used writing as a means to explore the students’ emotions, tastes, and memories around food.

Why a writing and not a cooking class? I wanted to give students who have experienced food insecurity the chance to express untold stories. As an experienced cooking teacher, I wanted to explore whether or not the knowledge and awareness that can come from a school cooking class could be accessed through a different medium: writing. And, as a professional writer, I was hopeful that the richness of language could be made more exciting and relevant by working with such a tangible and accessible subject.

In the media, food is often talked about in only economic or scientific terms. There is so much external input to makes sense of, from advertising to the community’s culture in which a person lives. Yet how often do we talk about the actual role food plays in people’s lives? By sharing the creative and nonfiction work of other writers, from Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to an Onion” to a New York Times photo essay on kids’ breakfasts around the world, students learned of the many ways people can experience sustenance. They learned that personal stories of celebration, heritage and hunger can be told through the food we eat (or cannot eat). This exposure, in turn, gave them an opportunity to consider their own preferences and feel empowered to write, or re-write, their own narratives on the role food plays in their lives.

Please read more examples of their wonderful work below:

Thanksgiving Memory, by Janet
We ate food.
My mom cooked the meal. I helped.
The table looked like a lot of food.
The food smelled good.
The best thing that happened to me this Thanksgiving
was when I got to be with my family and friends.
The most surprising thing that happened to me this Thanksgiving
was when my family came from Mexico.
I think eating together is
fun, good and funny.

Ode to a Fig, by Fabrizzio
seedful inside,
fragile outside,
avocado color
on the edge.

Two Haiku, by Naydelin
As we eat the food
That brings us joy.
Join us as we eat our foods.
That we shall thank god
for bringing our frown

Walking to the pond
I spot a duck on my sight
as I throw a piece of bread to them all
they made a SPLASH! to eat their bread.

I Feed…, by Jessica
I feed my happiness by eating.
I feed my hunger beans because I don’t like beans.
There is money for my happiness.
I feed it by fighting and by being mean for it.
I buy it for my hunger.
I throw a soccer ball at my hunger.



The following examples are class exercises that resonated with my students.

Food Haiku
After reading a few samples of haikus and other very short poems (most of which had food as a subject), students sampled different fruits, including strawberries, fresh figs and dried figs. After a class brainstorm of sensory words, students wrote their own haiku-like poems that captured their impressions of the fruit.

Recipe Poem
After we had made a few simple snacks together, and the idea of a recipe was understood, students wrote a recipe poem that explores what it takes for a person to be themselves. They identified the “ingredients” and “set of instructions” that they deemed necessary for being themselves.

Dream Jar Collaborative Poem
When students would finish an activity early, they were encouraged to write down their dreams, hungers, and wishes, and put them in a jar in the center of our class table. When the jar was full, students were given a random selection of dreams, hungers and wishes and encouraged to compose a poem with them, adding embellishments and stories to each line.

Spanish-English Poem
Because many of our students are Spanish speakers, one poem included the class brainstorming 10 – 15 Spanish words that had to do with food and then writing stories that used the brainstormed words, as well as 10 additional English words provided by the teacher.

Don’t forget to read Part 1 of this blog series by Jessica Washburn!

*** Jessie Washburn is a writer, food educator and cook based in Oakland, CA. For nearly a decade, she has used writing, gardening and cooking to introduce young people to the connection between food, community, health and land. Her education experience started at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, California and continued at the Montalvo Arts Center and Bay Area Community Resources, where she designed and taught cooking classes at local public schools. She has cooked under some of the Bay Area’s finest chefs, where she developed a keen sense of seasonality and local ingredients. As a writer, Washburn holds an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is at work on a collection of poems that addresses themes of food tradition, labor, and appetite.

Nutrition Newbie: It’s in the Can

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

When I asked our nutritionists for possible topics for this month’s Nutrition Newbie post, they suggested that I write about canned foods. Our nutritionists encounter a lot of people who turn up their noses when offered canned canned food, but they want to assure people that it’s not all bad.

Here’s what our nutritionists had to say about canned foods:

“Whether it’s to eat more nutritiously at every meal, save money by dining out less, or simply to spend more time at the dinner table with family, the solution might be right in your very own pantry.” – Karla

“Not only are canned foods more convenient and affordable, they are filled with important nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Canned fruits, vegetables, and beans can also save you time in your favorite home-cooked recipes.” – Susan

Canned food is a good alternative when fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t available or when you don’t have a full kitchen with all the bells and whistles to prepare a meal from scratch.

Another major benefit of having canned food in your pantry is their long shelf-life. They are perfect for instant gratification or emergencies.

Sodium is always a concern about canned food. As someone who has to mind my blood pressure, I proactively look for low sodium options and nowadays there are more of these options. This makes me very happy. (Quick tip: draining and rinsing your canned food can further reduce sodium content by 41 percent.)

Here’s a recipe that our nutritionists like:

Corn and Bean Green Chili Salad*
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium corn, drained
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/3 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well and serve.
* Adapted from: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food and Nutrition magazine.

For more healthy recipe ideas, visit the Champions for Change website.

***Read past Nutrition Newbie posts!

Share Your Childhood Food Memories on Social Media

As part of our Stand Up for Kids Campaign, we’re asking you to share your childhood food memories on social media from April 21 through May 4. It’s a chance for all of us to think about and share some food memories that we may not have thought about since we were kids. Or maybe you ate something yesterday that brought you back to your elementary school cafeteria or your 13th birthday party. In any case, we want to see your photos and read your stories!

With our social media campaigns, we’re always aiming to tap into your creativity and have fun. With this particular effort, we also want to underscore that every child deserves to have good food memories and encourage people to help feed 100,000 local kids every month by donating foods on our child-friendly foods list.

Keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages starting Tuesday, April 21, for #foodmemories posts that will prompt you to tell us about foods that made you feel a certain way or to share your experiences with foods on our most-needed child-friendly foods list. We’ll have other surprises too!

***Get more involved in our Stand Up for Kids campaign by making a monetary donation, or organizing an online fundraiser or a food drive. Click here to learn more.

Our Own March Madness

In March, we launched our Stand Up For Kids campaign, produced two major conferences to share best practices with our agency partners, and are rolling out a hunger awareness initiative developed to connect more people to nutritious food. We’ve planned special events, mobilized thousands of volunteers, and engaged more and more people in the work of local hunger relief.

Yet somehow during this time, in the month of March we shattered two all-time records, both for pounds of food brought in to Second Harvest and also for physical pounds distributed by the Food Bank. We:

  1. Collected 6.3 million pounds (prior record from last October was 6.17 million pounds).
  2. Distributed 6.0 million pounds (prior record, also from last October, was 5.7 million pounds).

While nearly half of the total was fresh fruit and vegetables, we also provided vast quantities of highly desirable protein and dairy items to hungry families locally.

Our staff, volunteers and supporters have responded to our communities’ needs with creativity, professionalism and tremendous effort. THANK YOU for your commitment to make things better for our neighbors in need.

***Find out how you can help end local hunger today.

School Pilot Program Empowers Families

Special Blog Post by: Marc Baker, Grants Manager

What if we wanted to build a program from the ground up, without any history or any assumptions? That’s the question we asked ourselves through the creation of our innovative School Pilot Program.

Second Harvest has joined forces with Sacred Heart Nativity School and Martha’s Kitchen in downtown San Jose to pilot an exciting new program designed to be responsive to the unique food assistance needs of the families with children enrolled at Sacred Heart Nativity School to promote their children’s school success.

Sacred Heart Nativity School is designed to provide children from low-income homes with additional educational and social services to promote each child’s academic success. Parent participation is a requirement for enrollment and the school has a strong parent leadership committee.

Last fall, we conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups with the parents of children enrolled in the school to assess each family’s level of food insecurity, what food support services they were already accessing, what types of foods they needed and wanted most, their preferences among food assistance programs, and what other support they needed to meet all of their food needs.

While 85% of the school’s families are earning at least one steady income, 52% admitted to skipping meals at least once a month and 77% admitted to worrying about how to pay for food. This underscored an ongoing, chronic need for food assistance.

Based on the families’ feedback, Second Harvest launched a new pilot to provide approximately 126 families (representing 586 individuals) with the healthy foods they desire to help meet their remaining food needs.

School Pilot Program Highlights:

  • Family empowerment model: The families have decision-making roles in the creation and implementation of this pilot. Families participating in our pilot program decide for themselves what healthy foods they need, order the food they want and volunteer to staff the monthly food distribution.
  • Family commitment: Each family pays a monthly membership fee of $3 per member in the household and can then order up to $20 worth of healthy food each month per person in the family.
  • Greater return on investment: Each family’s food will be ordered through Second Harvest Food Bank’s suppliers to get families more food for less money. Second Harvest Food Bank’s costs are roughly 40% less than the retail price that our clients would have to pay if they were to purchase the equivalent amount of food at a retail grocery store. In a recent cost analysis, our cost for grocery items that included yogurt, cheese, milk, chicken, oranges, beans, cereal, rice and oats was $16.71 compared to $36.98 at a local retail grocery chain.
  • In addition to providing Nativity School families with more food, we will track student absenteeism, disciplinary issues, student health and student test performance to measure how this pilot program is impacting the lives of the children and families. Customer satisfaction surveys will help us understand how the parents feel about the program and make necessary program adjustments if needed.

    Food pantry distributions began in March 2015 and will increase during the summer months when the families do not have access to their school’s subsidized meal program. Potential expansion of this pilot program at other schools will be considered once we have assessed overall program effectiveness.

    *** 1 in 3 kids in our community may not be getting enough to eat every day. Stand up for kids and get involved.

    March 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.

  • Food Waste Is Becoming Serious Economic and Environmental Issue, Report Says, NYTIMES.COM
  • “The food discarded by retailers and consumers in the most developed countries would be more than enough to feed all of the world’s 870 million hungry people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.”

  • The Poor Kids of Silicon Valley, CNN.COM
  • Such a powerful photo essay on child poverty in Silicon Valley ‪#‎HungerHurts‬

  • Silly, Saucy, Scary: Photos Show the Many Faces of Ugly Fruit, NPR.ORG
  • Great photos and cause! We also get a kick out of the photos that our volunteers share of odd-looking but perfectly edible fruits and veggies that they’ve come across in our warehouse.

  • Child Poverty Exists In Silicon Valley, Too. Here’s Who’s Helping Often-Overlooked Kids, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
  • This is a follow-up story to the CNN piece that we posted last week about child poverty in Silicon Valley. It highlights our work, as well as our partner agency, Sacred Heart Community Service. Thanks to all of our supporters who help us fight hunger here in our community. ‪#‎HungerHurts‬

  • Tips to Reduce Food Waste, NYTIMES.COM
  • The “Readers’ Tips” are really good too

  • Father-Son Duo Creates U.S. Map With Punny Food Names, FOODBEAST.COM
  • Love food puns? Check out these adorable state food puns created by a father-son duo. What are some of your favorites?

  • 29 Delicious Ways To Eat More Vegetables, BUZZFEED.COM
  • It’s National Nutrition Month – eat more veggies! ‪#‎foodiefriday‬

  • When Life Overwhelms, This Group Lends A Healthy Hand, NPR.ORG
  • “[When doctors were asked]: If you had unlimited resources, what’s the one thing you would give your patients? The answer that came back over and over again…was food, transportation, or a better place to live, because those were the real problems — and the underlying cause of many patients’ health problems.”

  • As University Costs, Rise, Some Going Hungry to Pay for College, WW2.KQED.ORG
  • “Data aren’t well kept on the number of students who go hungry… A biannual UC survey suggests the scale of the problem: from 2010 to 2014, roughly 50 percent of students said they skipped meals to save money ‘occasionally’ to ‘very often.’”

  • How Much (Or Little) The Middle-Class Makes, In 30 U.S. Cities, NPR.ORG
  • “In the area around San Jose (which includes the heart of Silicon Valley), 13 percent of families have annual incomes of $250,000 or more.”

  • States to Test Ways to Get Food Stamp Recipients Back to Work, PBS.ORG
  • “New federal grants will help 10 states test programs to help food stamp recipients find jobs, from using career coaches to quicker training courses to mental health assistance.”

  • Sunnyvale: Partnership works to feed low-income students on weekends, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • “Many children receive two to three meals from programs at schools on the weekdays, but weekends have been left entirely up to the family until now.” Find out what we’re doing with Sunnyvale Community Services, Kaiser Permanente, and the Sunnyvale School District to tackle this problem. ‪#‎HungerHurts‬

    *** Did you miss our February Social Media Roundup? Click here to read it.

    Giving Back with Purpose and Heart

    “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.

    April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and in this special edition of our “Local Hunger Fighters” series, we are spotlighting a few of our Team Leaders. They are volunteers with special training who take primary responsibility for running the various projects we complete with volunteers during each evening or weekend sort.

    Many of our Team Leaders have been volunteering regularly for 5 years or more. When we asked three of them why they keep coming back, here’s what they said:

    John Racine (volunteering since 2009): “I like the people and I like the purpose.”

    Steve Norris (volunteering since 2001): “In an otherwise rich pair of counties, it’s unacceptable to me that we have 1 out of every 10 people hungry and without healthy and nutritious food to eat.”

    Larry Maibaum (volunteering since 2011): “Coming to SHFB is easy and it’s for a good reason: giving back and not taking things for granted.”

    Thank you John, Steve, Larry, and all of our Team Leaders for giving their time to help end hunger in our community!

    ***Learn about volunteer opportunities at Second Harvest.

    Creating Custom Solutions for Schools

    Special Blog Post by: Marc Baker, Grants Manager

    Although Second Harvest has had a long tradition of working with schools, it has often been on a logistical level: do you have a parking lot we could use to distribute food once a month? Now, we are looking at schools and school districts as true partners in our work.

    Schools, after all, have trusted relationships with students and their families and know what their needs are; have established communication channels with them; know what community resources already exist; have large facilities that can accommodate the size of their student population; and are typically geographically convenient for families when their children’s school is in their neighborhood.

    In partnership with schools and districts, we are developing tailored programs to meet the unique food assistance needs of their populations. Our “tailored school solutions program” meets the needs of hungry children and families by providing them with nutritious food to take home when other resources, such as free or reduced-price school meals, are not available.

    Our school pantry sites are selected based a number of criteria, including:

    • High poverty rates (>75% student enrollment in the free and reduced-price meal program)
    • Lack of food resources within the neighborhood
    • The school’s commitment to hosting the program at their site
    • Our ability to recruit volunteers and nonprofit partners to assist in the implementation of the programs at each school site

    Each school program is responsive to the food needs of local families and typically includes fresh produce, lean meats, eggs, dairy, grains, beans and an assortment of canned and frozen items.
    In addition to the distribution of free food at school sites, our school food assistance programs incorporate nutrition education and CalFresh (food stamp) related activities to promote health and encourage nutritious eating, including:

    • Nutrition education for children and their families
    • Recipe tip cards in multiple languages
    • Cooking demonstrations and food tastings to help families make the best use of the food they receive from us
    • CalFresh education, outreach and application assistance at school sites to connect families with additional resources to alleviate food insecurity

    At certain school campuses, our food assistance programs are provided in conjunction with other school-based community intervention services such as financial planning, tutoring, and parent coaching tailored to address the families’ needs and achieve positive outcomes in their lives.

    Today, we are serving more than 16,700 low-income kids and families each month through our tailored school solutions program, distributing the equivalent of two million meals (over 2.4 million pounds of healthy food) annually to narrow the meal gap in our community.

    *** 1 in 3 kids in our community may not be getting enough to eat every day. Stand up for kids and get involved .

    Kids: Authors Of Their Own Food Stories – Part 1

    Special Blog Post by: Jessica Washburn, Writer and Food Educator

    Over the past decade, I have taught kids of all ages cooking and witnessed repeatedly how students fall in love with simple, nourishing food when they make it themselves. If their hands have washed lettuce, chopped cucumbers and whisked a salad dressing, then they might not only clean their plate of leafy greens, but also demand seconds. Yet my time with students is often short, sometimes not even a semester. When a session concludes, I wonder whether any students continue cooking the recipes we made together, or at least, continue to eat the newfound vegetables they enjoyed during class. In other words, what’s the lasting impact?

    This question becomes more complicated when I think of the many students I have worked with in the Bay Area who qualify for free and reduced lunch and are considered food insecure. If access to food is uncertain, then the fundamental relationship between food and nourishment becomes tenuous, even traumatic, and the ideals of cooking healthfully become secondary to more immediate concerns, namely, having adequate amounts of food regardless of nutritional content.

    When I approached Second Harvest about collaborating on a new class, I was influenced by the disparity of wealth and need found in Silicon Valley. Driving on the broad boulevard on my way to the Second Harvest site, I thought of the abundance in the area – of talent, resources and food – and the simultaneous scarcity: 1 out of every 3 local children in the region are affected by hunger. I envisioned a class where underserved students in the area could explore food, but this time, through creative writing.

    Partnering with Second Harvest, we identified an afterschool program in Redwood City at the Police Activities League, where 5th and 6th graders could easily participate. I designed a ten-week course, in which each hour and a half class would consist of a playful writing prompt, an easy group cooking activity and snack, and time to journal the experience in handmade books. Upon finishing the course, students would have a book of their own making with their own food writing. Over the course of the ten weeks, students would also gain an awareness of how they relate to food, as well as a sense of confidence to express their appetites, feelings and memories through the written word.

    When kids explore food with their imaginations, it helps to remove expectations of right or wrong. There is so often an admonishing tone around food now, and that is not any individual’s fault. Most people, regardless of income, find the American food landscape difficult to navigate. The cheapest, most accessible foods are often the least healthy; nutritional messaging has changed drastically over the years; and food insecurity has only risen in the past decades.

    For children experiencing hunger, who might not know where their next meal is coming from, this landscape becomes even more fraught with uncertainty. Though children might try to downplay this reality out of shame or confusion, the impact of hunger on kids is serious and can be life-long: hungry kids are more likely to struggle with serious health issues and have trouble learning. In turn, they are less likely to graduate from high school and go on to college. These facts, and my desire to facilitate a different kind of engagement with food, are some of the things that I took into consideration when I designed the creative writing workshop.

    Please see photographs of the student work below, as well as selections of their poems and stories:

    Ode to a Strawberry, by Fabrizio
    red with small
    Green spike hat, in fact,
    Spongebob’s house hat,
    explodes with taste
    in your mouth!
    fuzzy package,
    slow-mo crunchy,
    makes everyone happy.
    Nature’s little bundle of joy
    from white to green to red,
    from seed to stem to a mini white ore
    to the red result:
    you put smiles on even the poorest in the desert.

    Food Memory, by Naydelin
    When I was young
    in Thanksgiving or any holiday
    When we eat our foods we
    eat it like a family that brings
    us happy family before the
    sadness came and we would
    always stick to the people
    we love and care for.

    The food we ate was Bread, turkey
    Soup, spaghetti, and sometimes cake.
    We would always go to the duck pond and feed the ducks our
    leftover bread and admire
    the happiness that our food brings.

    I Feel, I am, I Imagine…, by Janet
    I feel that I could do anything.
    Like play soccer.
    I feel that I could anything.
    Like do Art. Sculpture.
    I feel that I could do anything.
    Like make money.
    I feel that I could do anything.
    Like dream.
    I want to be in the world cup.
    I want money and candy
    because they are my favorite things.

    Food Memory, by Jessica
    Last Friday my family and I go to Jack and the Box and we have to get the same thing. It was raining and it was cold and our drinks were so cold. I was eating it because I was hungry and it was my birthday. It sounded normal because it was hot, crunchy. It had lettuce, chicken, bread, mayonnaise.

    Read Part 2 of this blog series and watch a video!

    * Jessie Washburn is a writer, food educator and cook based in Oakland, CA. For nearly a decade, she has used writing, gardening and cooking to introduce young people to the connection between food, community, health and land. Her education experience started at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, California and continued at the Montalvo Arts Center and Bay Area Community Resources, where she designed and taught cooking classes at local public schools. She has cooked under some of the Bay Area’s finest chefs, where she developed a keen sense of seasonality and local ingredients. As a writer, Washburn holds an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is at work on a collection of poems that addresses themes of food tradition, labor, and appetite.