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
Strawbery,
red with small
polkadots.
Green spike hat, in fact,
Spongebob’s house hat,
explodes with taste
in your mouth!
Juicy,
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.

Come back next month to read about specific class exercises and see a short 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.

Fighting Summer Hunger in East Palo Alto

Special Blog Post by: Marc Baker, Grants Manager

For far too many local kids, summer is a time of anxiety—of wondering when there will be food to eat again.

This is especially true in East Palo Alto, where 95% of the students live in households that meet the income eligibility for free or reduced-price meals at their schools ($29,965/year and $42,643/year for a family of four, respectively). A survey conducted by a Stanford intern confirmed that summer was a time of particularly acute food insecurity, as students lose access to these school meals.

This summer, Second Harvest will be partnering with Ravenswood School District, the San Mateo County Library System, local YMCAs and the Pediatric Advocacy Program at Stanford School of Medicine to address the needs of these children.

Our summer food program will provide meals for children and their parents at 10 community sites (libraries and YMCAs) Monday through Friday for 10 weeks during the summer. In addition to the healthy meals, the libraries and YMCAs will provide educational and enrichment activities throughout the day to help children prepare for the new school year.

Stanford School of Medicine will conduct pre- and post-surveys with parent focus groups to assess how effectively the program meets the summer food needs of their families and what we can do to improve the program in the future. Stanford will oversee the evaluation design, data collection, and analysis and dissemination of program outcomes.

We anticipate serving over 19,000 healthy meals to children and their parents through our 10-week summer program.

Second Harvest will also refer participating families to our school pantry program on the Costano School Campus in East Palo Alto. The school pantry program distributes 90 pounds of groceries per family each month, including milk, chicken, eggs, cereal, peanut butter, ground turkey, rice, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, and fresh produce. Families can receive food year-round.

*** Stand up for kids and support our work to end child hunger in our community. Find out how you can get involved today.

February 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.

  • One in Five U.S. Children Depends On Food Stamps, BLOGS.WSJ.COM
  • “The findings are the latest evidence of how little America’s less-advantaged groups—children, but also young adults, the poor, minorities, the middle class—have benefited from an economic recovery whose gains have gone disproportionately to the affluent.”

    Behind the scenes: we're filming the video for our 2015 Stand up for kids campaign. Keep an eye out for it in March!

    A photo posted by Second Harvest Food Bank (@2ndharvest) on

  • Report: Silicon Valley powers to record job boom, but surge produces income and gender gap, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • “Workers in the region holding high-skill jobs have a median income of $118,700 compared with $27,000 for workers holding low-skill jobs, said Rachel Massaro, vice president with Joint Venture Silicon Valley.”

  • Hunger 101: Food Banks Are a Rising Presence on College Campuses, TAKEPART.COM
  • “With college costs rising, the problem of food security is cropping up on campuses across the country.” Here in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, nearly half of our clients have to choose between food and education.

  • The Economic Gap is Now a Canyon, VMCFOUNDATION.ORG
  • “30% of families in the richest region of the richest nation on earth struggle to get by every day, every month.” Read about the latest Silicon Valley Index, compiled by Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

  • Hunger Pangs, SANTACLARAWEEKLY.COM
  • ICYMI, here’s a really good recap of our recent Hunger Action Summit at Santa Clara University where we looked at the health consequences of hunger and explored ways anti-hunger advocates can partner with health providers to ensure that everyone has access to one of the most basic prescriptions for good health: nutritious food.

  • 11 Strategies for Saving on Groceries Without Clipping Coupons, NEWS.YAHOO.COM
  • What are some of your tips for saving money on groceries?

  • Let’s Stop Viewing the 16 Million Children on Food Stamps as a Failure, BABBLE.COM
  • “These numbers reflect children who will hopefully not wonder if their next meal is going to happen.”

  • Special Reports on 1590 KLIV: Hunger in Silicon Valley, KLIV.COM
  • 1590 KLIV produced an excellent podcast series on hunger in Silicon Valley

  • Droughts Affects Food Relief for the Poor, KGORADIO.COM
  • Learn how the drought affects our ability to provide food to nearly 250,000 people in our community (courtesy of KGO Radio: The Bay Area’s News and Information Station)

  • ‘Who’s Hungry’ Campaign Shows Hunger as Silent Epidemic for California Kids, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • Attendees of our recent Hunger Action Summit were able to see the “Who’s Hungry” photo exhibit which includes 20 photos of Bay Area children who appear to be healthy and well-fed, yet half are “food insecure.” Posters and ads featuring photos from the exhibit will start appearing across North California soon, starting with federally funded health centers.

  • 11 Practical Ways You Can Reduce Food Waste and Save Money, MASHABLE.COM
  • All great tips, but we’re big fans of #8

    Here for the San Francisco Bay Area Food Banks meeting. Looking forward to hearing what everyone's up to!

    A photo posted by Second Harvest Food Bank (@2ndharvest) on

  • What It’s Like For People Living In Extreme Poverty, BUZZFEED.COM
  • “‘My mom would buy a small personal pizza for my brother on special occasions like if he did really well on a test at school or something. Even though it was only like $2, she couldn’t afford anything for herself so she would eat his leftover crust. She told me he would always tell her, ‘Mommy are you hungry? Go buy one just for you,’ and she would just say, ‘No I’m not hungry, I only want a little snack.’”

  • The High Costs of Being Poor in America: Stress, Pain, and Worry, BROOKINGS.EDU
    “‘Good’ stress is associated with the pursuit of goals, while ‘bad’ stress is associated with struggling to cope. Bad stress, which is associated with an inability to plan ahead, lower life satisfaction levels, and worse health outcomes, is more common at the bottom of the [income] distribution.”

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

  • Nutrition Newbie: Go Healthy Eating!

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

    Every month, I ask our nutritionists for ideas on topics to blog about and I was happy to find out that March is actually National Nutrition Month. What a perfect way to promote good nutrition and highlight our nutritionists’ work in the community.

    How would our nutritionists want us to observe this special month? By reminding us to eat healthy and promote healthy eating habits with our loved ones, of course.

    It’s safe to say this is our nutritionists’ mantra: to incorporate healthy eating habits into your life, add more fruits and vegetables to your meals. But did you know that the colors of fresh produce can make a difference? When picking fruits and vegetables, choose dark green, orange and red vegetables; these foods include a nutrient that makes you healthier and helps to prevent some types of cancers.

    Here’s a recipe* recommended by Karla, one of our nutritionists:

    Delicious Greens

  • Leafy greens (rinsed, stems removed and coarsely shredded)
  • Cabbage (shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic (minced)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Directions
    1. Rinse greens, remove stems, and tear in small pieces.
    2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Sauté garlic and onion until light brown, about 3 minutes.
    3. Add greens, cabbage and vinegar and cook briefly, about 3 minutes. Serve hot.

    *Recipe adapted from What’s Cooking.

    Take a risk and try new things – add leafy greens into your pasta, put more vegetables in your meatloaf, or just snack on more veggies!

    Find more ways to add vegetables to your diet at Cooking Matters.

    Looking for ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month at school, at home, or in the community? ChooseMyPlate.gov offers many ideas on how you do exactly that.

    ***Read past Nutrition Newbie posts!

    2015 Hunger Action Summit Recap

    We recently hosted our Hunger Action Summit, an annual forum on local hunger sponsored by Santa Clara University’s Food and Agribusiness Institute, a part of the Leavey School of Business. This year’s theme was, “Food As Medicine: The Intersection of Hunger and Health.” We talked about how anti-hunger advocates can work with health providers to access a basic prescription for good health – nutritious food.

    Our CEO Kathy Jackson asked the audience if they thought of the food bank as a health care provider. The response was split, with many in the audience holding up green cards to say “yes,” while others held up red cards to indicate a “no” response. We were determined to have everyone think of the food bank as a health care provider by the end of the event.

    Here are some summit highlights:

  • S. Andrew Starbird, dean of Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, presented the 2013 Hunger Index which showed that an estimated 814 million meals were required for all low-income households in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in 2013. Researchers estimate that these families were able to afford enough food to provide 417 million meals, or a little more than half of their daily food needs. Food-assistance programs provided 221 million meals, leaving a gap of 176 million meals.
  • Lead researcher Courtney Robinson, graduate research assistant at the Food and Agribusiness Institute, presented the “Cost of a Healthy Meal,” a multi-year research project that studies the long-term social, economic, and nutritional value of food for low-income families in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Her team found that 30% of the produce eaten daily by research subjects comes from the food bank.
  • A panel discussion featuring Dr. Lisa Chamberlain, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, and Dr. Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation looked at how good nutrition is necessary to establish a foundation for a child’s health, academic achievement, and, ultimately, economic productivity. Dr. Lisa Chamberlain called for incentivizing health providers to screen for hunger. Photographer Karen Ande also participated in the discussion. Her “Who’s Hungry?” photo exhibit was on display at the event and posters and ads featuring photos from the exhibit will appear across North California soon, starting with federally funded health centers.
  • Dr. Hilary Seligman, Associate Professor of Medicine of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at University of California, San Francisco and Core Faculty at Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, discussed the link between food insecurity and chronic diseases. She noted that 50% of the U.S. population, ages 20-65 years old, will be on food stamps at some point.
  • Robert Greenwald, director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School put forth a clear ‘food as medicine’ framework and he urged the audience to define how services they provide might fit into this framework.
  • The inspiring and powerful event ended with Second Harvest staff handing out “food prescription pads” and apples, reminding everyone that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

    ***Visit our Hunger Action Summit resource page for presentations, recorded livestream of the event, and more!

    My Personal Experience With Hunger

    Special Blog Post by: Suzanne Liu, Second Harvest board member

    My experience with hunger is a personal one. Two months after my younger brother was born, he got sick. What doctors diagnosed as a common cold was meningitis, and days later my brother passed away. In his grief, my father became addicted to drugs. We lost our company, we lost our home, we lost our family, we lost everything.

    My mother and I moved to a shelter when it was no longer safe. It was scary. I missed my clothes and my toys and my home and my friends. As a picky eater, not being able to choose my snack was terrifying.

    As a mother myself, I cannot fathom my mother’s heartbreak and courage in taking this path. Her drive to have our basic needs met changed the course of our lives. For the next few years, we relied on food stamps.

    My mother’s nursing certification had expired while she helped run my father’s business, so she wasn’t able to find a job. We moved in with my grandparents, and my mother took shorthand classes in hopes of becoming an administrative assistant.

    As grateful as I was, even at the age of 5, I felt embarrassed that the way we paid for food (food stamps) was conspicuously different. We shopped in two groups — must haves (milk and bread) and the rest (crackers and fruit). The worst was putting back the same much-needed item week after week. My mother would tear up. I felt ashamed and imagined I was to blame. I developed strong mental math skills to avoid emotional encounters at checkout.

    Fortunately, my mother secured an administrative job at an allergist’s office and worked a second, and sometimes third, job to support us. We graduated from food assistance, and I studied diligently to become the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Serendipitously, I joined Google.

    For most of my life my father was homeless. I am profoundly grateful to those who fed my father. Their generosity was the most impactful, precious gift I received. It would have been easy to view him as not worthy, or trust that our family could help when we couldn’t. This generosity lessened the financial and emotional pressure on me so I could focus on school, and taught me the power of compassion.

    Today, though I am fortunate to receive free meals at work, the fear and uncertainty of missing meals never feels far away. It’s something that never really leaves. Only two years ago, I finally stopped sorting the items in my shopping cart. I am thankful each day that I can provide for my family, and feel privileged to do what we can to pay it forward.

    One in three children here is at risk of hunger. In one of the most innovative and wealthiest communities in the country, if not the world, I believe we can do better. We can create the model that ends local hunger.

    ***One in three kids in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties may not be getting enough to eat every day. Please stand up for kids and donate today.

    January 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.

    1/3: Beyond Holiday Giving: Three Things You Can Do to End Hunger in the U.S., HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
    How will you continue to fight hunger in our community after the holidays?

    1/7: 1 Million Expected to be Kicked Off Food Stamps, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
    “The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that falling unemployment rates will cause states to lose an exemption they currently have for food stamp recipients. Instead, a three-month federal time limit on nutrition assistance for unemployed adults who don’t have dependents or disabilities will kick in again.

    1/7:

    1/9: Post-Holidays, Resolve to Reduce Your Food Waste, KCET.ORG
    “According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps make up 20% of our landfills, and every year Americans toss more than 35 million tons of uneaten groceries.” Here’re some simple ways you can help change those statistics.

    1/11: Fresh Gets Better: Lessons I Learned from Using Food Stamps, PASTEMAGAZINE.COM
    “My current low annual income makes CalFresh benefits a crucial part of keeping body and soul together. My gratitude went from frivolous to something a little more humble each time I bought an avocado or locally-made baguette at the farmers market.”

    1/13: 5 Things to Know about Upcoming U.S. Dietary Guidelines, PBS.ORG
    What do you think of these potential changes to U.S. dietary guidelines?

    1/17: A Guide to ‘Good’ & ‘Bad’ Carbs, CARE2.COM
    Are you ready to play “Good Carb/Bad Carb”?

    1/18: Suburban Poverty, Hidden on Tree-Lined Streets, PARENTING.BLOGS.NYTIMES.COM
    “My husband and I walk a tightrope in a constant balancing act trying to figure out if we should pay the phone bill or put gas in the car. Surely, we are not the only ones trying to stay afloat in the current economy, but I cannot tell who is walking a path similar to ours.”

    1/22: Majority of U.S. Public School Students Are in Poverty, WASHINGTONPOST.COM
    “The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up.”

    1/23: Food Waste is a Serious Problem in the U.S., HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
    “It is unacceptable that anyone goes hungry when the 70 billion pounds — or approximately 58 billion meals — we waste is more than enough to feed every person facing hunger.” So true.

    1/26: The 10 Least Affordable Housing Markets in the World, TAKEPART.COM
    San Jose is #4 on this list. Are you surprised?

    1/30:

    Our CEO Kathy Jackson urges the Hunger Action Summit audience to think of #FoodAsMedicine

    A photo posted by Second Harvest Food Bank (@2ndharvest) on

    1/30: FitForFood, FITFORFOOD.FITBIT.COM
    Do you have a Fitbit? Sign up for FitForFood and the calories you burn by being active from February 3 to March 3 will count toward meals for people in need. How’s that for motivation?

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

    Nutrition Newbie: Heart-Shaped Health

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

    This Valentine’s Day, as you fill out cards and gather sweet goodies and flowers for your loved ones, don’t forget to declare love for your own heart by promising to eat foods that keep your heart healthy.

    I asked our Community Nutritionists what their recommendations are for heart-healthy foods and they said to for sure include fruits and vegetables that contain fiber, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and few calories.

    Here are a couple of super easy ways to get those fruits and veggies into your diet:

  • Top a bowl of steaming oatmeal with fresh fruit chunks for breakfast
  • Put a few handfuls of chopped veggies with some low sodium vegetable or chicken broth for a satisfying soup
  • Fruits and vegetables can also be used to make heart-healthy beverages that are yummy alternatives to sugary drinks. Add slices of cucumber, orange or lemon to a glass of water to make a satisfying thirst-quencher. It really can’t get any easier than that.

    Sugary drinks increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases. Santa Clara County Public Health Department offers these recipes for delicious cold-weather beverages that are healthier than sugary beverages (these recipes are also available in Spanish):

    Tea Latte
    - Choose your favorite flavor of tea
    - Steep tea bag in hot water for 2-5 minutes
    - Add plain non-fat or 1% milk, soy milk, or almond milk

    Cinnamon Vanilla Milk (“Horchata”)
    - Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla exact to plain non-fat or 1% milk
    - Sprinkle as much cinnamon as desired and stir
    - Serve warm or add all ingredients and ice into a blender for a blended drink

    Click here for more ideas on how to include fresh, canned and frozen produce in your meals and snacks, courtesy of Fruits and Veggies-More Matters.

    ***Read past Nutrition Newbie posts!

    Teaching Healthy Habits

    Special Blog Post by: Susan, Second Harvest Volunteer Health Ambassador

    Susan has been a volunteer with Second Harvest’s Health Ambassador program since last September. She is a wife and mother of three, a former electrical technician, and soon-to-be graduate with a B.A. in nutrition, and an emphasis on education.

    I’m a San Jose native and I want to go the extra mile for my neighborhood. This is where I grew up, in downtown San Jose, and it’s where I feel most comfortable. Even though my family didn’t have a lot, there was camaraderie. We always had people over and it was an open door setup. As a result, I love to cook and share. I even bring snacks to share at my college.

    For six years, I had a business teaching kids healthy eating habits, mainly in recreational centers. The kids had no idea what different produce was. Things like tangerines drew a blank. This inspired me to go further, to teach kids more about nutrition. Especially with children, this is part of their foundation and, at that age, they are willing to make changes and try things.

    As a Health Ambassador with Second Harvest, often I show up at food distributions and introduce myself wearing a Champions for Change apron. I hand out recipe cards, MyPlate handouts, and stickers. We often want people’s attention before the food distribution happens, so that they can focus more on learning how to prepare the foods. We try to show people how to use the foods that Second Harvest gives out so they don’t go to waste.

    One memory that stands out for me: I met a lady at the Family Harvest site. She was struggling to communicate in broken English, and she shared with me that she works hard as a cleaner. The people she works for asked her to do more, but they don’t want to pay her more. I see it all the time, people struggle and they are trying to get ahead. These are moms who want to do everything for their families. They’re not showing up for a handout.

    ***Want to make a difference and work directly with our neighbors in need? Click here to learn about our Education and Outreach volunteer opportunities.