Special Blog Post By: Tometrius Paxton, Partnership Manager, Team Leader
The Annual Agency Capacity, Programs and Nutrition Learning Conference, hosted by Feeding America, happened last month. This year’s conference had over 500 food bank staff from 35 states! The main purpose of the gathering is to educate fellow food bank staff across the country about programs and best practices that they can immediately implement into their daily practices.
I was one of three panelists selected to participate in a workshop focused on the diabetic and pre-diabetic patients and providing access to healthier food to help manage their medical condition. I presented a case study about Medical Clinic Pharm Pantries and showed fellow food bankers how to set up a food pharmacy program that promotes healthy foods for a medically vulnerable population.
Studies show that a healthy diet can help to prevent as well as support the successful treatment of a number of chronic diseases. Prescribing healthy food to patients is a cost effective health care intervention. However, for low-income patients, the cost of healthy food can be prohibitive, making it difficult for them to follow a prescribed diet.
Second Harvest Food Bank and our partner agencies work with medical clinics to address nutrition-related illness and poor nutrition for low-income patients. In partnership with Samaritan House, we opened our first Medical Clinic Pharm Pantry in Redwood City earlier this year.
Here’s how a Medical Clinic Pharm Pantry works. Patients with nutrition-related illness and/or poor nutrition identified by their primary care provider or staff are referred to the Medical Clinic Pharm Pantry. A “prescription” for supplemental food is prescribed to patients to prevent and/or address specific and defined health care conditions. They leave the clinic with a bag of healthy groceries that may include quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, fresh produce, chicken and eggs. Simply put, food equals medicine!
Having this immediate access to healthy foods improves a patient’s ability to maintain proper eating habits recommended by their doctor. This service increases food security and fosters healthy eating!
We’re happy to share that there’s been 100% patient participation in accepting the healthy foods from the pantry. Patients have also reported that they feel empowered to eat healthier. The results have been promising so far and we’re opening a second Medical Pharm Pantry this month in San Mateo!
To learn more about food pharmacies, read about our work with the Samaritan House Free Clinic in Redwood City.
“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.
Special Blog Post By: Bryanna Peace, Second Harvest Food Bank Nutrition Intern
When you think of healthfulness, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many, it’s nutrition and at Second Harvest Food Bank, we are so happy to hear that. However, good things come in pairs and that’s why good nutrition and physical activity are two peas in a pod.
Physical activity often falls to the way side as life get busy, especially with work. While some may be moving around for work, it’s people who are at a desk for the majority of the day that often have the lowest reports of physical activity.
Sitting for long periods of time can take a toll on your muscles, metabolism, and brain function. Multiple studies, like those referenced by Dr. James A Levine for Mayo Clinic, show that many of those who sit for extended hours throughout the day without much interruption are at a much higher risk for adverse health effects. These health effects can include weight gain, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and decreased blood circulation, which can impair brain function efficiency. Thankfully, there are many easy ways to prevent these issues altogether.
As mentioned in the article by Dr. Levine, it is important to get up and move around. This can mean standing whenever you take a break or having a standing desk instead of the traditional sit-down one. You can encourage “moving meetings,” where instead of at a table, your meetings take place on a walk and gets your heart rate up. Also, instead of heading to the break room throughout the day, take a lap around the building, or do a few flights of stairs. These are practical ways to add more exercise into the work day.
Another important part of office wellness is stretching. Sitting at a desk can wreak havoc on your muscles, creating a lot of stress and tension. Stretching will aid in the prevention of muscle wasting and increase circulation to help your metabolism and brain function.
Here is a list of a few simple stretches that can be done at your desk that will greatly improve your body wellness:
Sit at the edge of your chair and lift your chest so your back is not slouched. Place both hands behind your head and interlock fingers. Stretch your chest by gently squeezing your shoulder blades together and take deep breaths. Continue this for about 10-15 seconds.
Chin to Chest
Sit at the edge of your chair and lift your chest so your back is not slouched. Extend your legs outward and let your feet rest on your heels with feet slightly flexed. With one hand on the back of your head and one on the base of your chin, tilt your head forward, bringing your chin closer to your chest. Stretch without straining, take deep breaths, and continue for about 10-15 seconds.
Sit at the edge of your chair and lift your chest so your back is not slouched. Bring one leg up and rest the outside of your ankle on the knee of your opposite leg. Allow your raised leg to relax. This may already cause you to feel a stretch. If not, raise the height of your knee by lifting the heel of your foot on the floor. You may also use the base of your chair to raise your knee, as shown in the picture above. Take deep breaths and continue stretching for 10-15 seconds and then switch to your other leg.
Try implementing one of these practices, such as stretching every hour at your desk or taking the stairs, into your work day. As time goes on, continue to add more healthy behaviors and over time your wellness can increase exponentially.
Form a pact with coworkers to encourage consistency or promise yourself a reward, like going out to a movie with friends or family. Find ways to support your efforts to increase body wellness and you’ll find it’s much easier than you think.
Are there other wellness practices you use in the office? Tell us in the comments below – we would love to know!
***Check out our past Nutrition Newbie posts.
Special Blog Post By: Coleen Ju, AmeriCorps VISTA, Volunteer and Resource Coordinator
For the past year, I have had the honorable pleasure of serving as Second Harvest Food Bank’s first ever AmeriCorps VISTA. Working for this amazing organization has been filled with countless memories and lessons learned. My VISTA year of service was focused on on the Food Bank’s Produce Mobile – evaluating the program and creating ways to increase client and volunteer participation.
I spent months visiting sites and speaking to site coordinators, volunteers, and community members. I worked closely with other departments at the Food Bank and began to familiarize myself not only with the Produce Mobile program, but also with Second Harvest Food Bank as a whole.
Now, as I reflect back on my year of service, I see that the Produce Mobile program is so much more than just a means of providing fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need. It’s a program that clearly embodies Second Harvest Food Bank, representing the values and mission of our organization and us as a community.
Here are the top 5 ways the Produce Mobile program personifies the Food Bank!
1. Open Doors
The Produce Mobile program is everyone’s program. It has a simple self-certification process that allows anyone who needs the help to easily receive it. The welcoming and non-judgmental open door policy directly reflects the Food Bank’s office culture, where titles may exist but barriers do not; where an AmeriCorps VISTA can comfortably talk to a department director about something as simple as Disneyland or as complex as poverty in the Bay Area.
2. Positive Collaboration
The Produce Mobile is an intricate program that relies on collaboration and partnership. Site coordinators and volunteers must work together to serve their community alongside the Food Bank. Similarly, the Food Bank could not thrive and develop new ways to better serve our community without the constant collaborating between individuals and departments.
3. Healthy Food for a Healthy Future
As stated in the name, our Produce Mobiles provide clients with a bountiful array of fresh produce items. The Food Bank is a strong advocate for educating the community on healthy eating habits. Providing fresh fruits and vegetables to our clients is a direct way to increase their chances for a healthy future.
Sometimes our community volunteers are also clients. By working at the Produce Mobiles, they have taken charge of the change they want to see in their lives. Community members have the capacity to develop leadership skills, while doing good for their family and neighbors. This sense of ownership and personal growth can also be seen throughout the Food Bank, ranging from project responsibilities to internal job development.
At the forefront of every program and every project at the Food Bank is the compassion we have for our neighbors in need. The Food Bank’s mission is to lead our community to ensure that anyone who needs a healthy meal can get one and the Produce Mobile does just that. At the Food Bank. we understand that poverty and hunger is still ever present in prosperous Silicon Valley. We care deeply for our neighbors in need and the Produce Mobile program is just one small step in the path to alleviating hunger.
As I get ready to start a new chapter in my life, I look back fondly at everything I’ve done and everyone I’ve met here at Second Harvest. This organization is nothing shy of inspirational and I feel so lucky to have played a small part in its great mission.
Special Blog Post By: Elizabeth Whamond, Director of Business Applications
Hackathons are events where a large number of people get together to code collaboratively. They can last for one full 24-hour period or go on for several days. Usually, hackers come to the hackathons with their own ideas that they want to work on.
As a nonprofit partner of eBay and now PayPal, we were one of the nonprofits selected to “pitch” an idea at the PayPal Opportunity Hackathon last month in San Jose. The PayPal Opportunity Hackathon focuses on building solutions to problems for the selected nonprofits. Coders have the opportunity to build something that has real social impact and brings innovation to nonprofits that may not be able to afford it otherwise. They’re also applying their skills and networking with their peers.
We decided it would be a great opportunity for us, so I signed us up. In the end, there were 12 nonprofits that presented their ideas and about 150 participants on the coding side.
We pitched that we needed a technology solution for all the paper that we’re using at our direct service sites. That sounds easy, but we have some additional challenges at these sites: we only get to borrow the space for a limited amount of time, so we can’t store any computer equipment there; many of these sites don’t have WiFi or cell signals; and these sites are almost exclusively run by volunteers.
We had a LOT of interest in our project. We ended up with three teams wanting to work on our problem. Some projects only had one team working on them.
The many problems presented by nonprofits at the hackathon were all really fascinating. One nonprofit, Understanding Poverty, pitched an idea for a Yelp-type app for social services. Our partner agency Sacred Heart was looking for something very similar to what we were looking to do – to make a registration process electronic. There were international organizations trying to solve issues about locating and communicating with refugees in war-torn countries.
One of our teams ended up winning 1st place! They have 30 days to deliver us a fully working version of the prototype in order to collect the other half of their monetary prize.
There are a lot of amazingly talented young people in our community and many of them are really passionate about giving back. I was really surprised at the number of PayPal staff who volunteered their time to run this hackathon. It’s truly a labor of love for them.
For coders interested in getting involved and helping nonprofits, you can sign up on Devpost to learn about hackathon opportunities. You don’t need to wait until a hackathon comes around to help out a local nonprofit. Go volunteer with an organization that resonates with you and see if they can use your coding skills!
“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.
Special Blog Post By: Bryanna Peace, Second Harvest Food Bank Nutrition Intern
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! But, what if we chose to scream for something a little more nutritious while still satisfying that sweet tooth craving? At Second Harvest Food Bank we’re all about great recipes that are nutritious, easy and completely delicious. These simple sweet treats are great for hot summer days and will keep the whole family feeling healthy and happy.
Children love sweets, and chances are, if you have little ones, you’ve probably heard your fair share of pleading for sweets. A fun way to help your kids want sweet treats that are good for them is letting kids help in the kitchen. It’s an easy way to teach your children about eating healthy and boosting their confidence by teaching them new skills. The American Institute for Cancer Research has a guide that talks about the benefits of cooking with your kids, practical food safety for children and tips on how to give them appropriate tasks. All these recipes are kid friendly and are a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen.
Coconut Water & Berry Popsicles
Berries are great sources of antioxidants and are naturally sweet. Coconut water is full of electrolytes and helps keep you hydrated.
In a popsicle mold drop in about 5-6 cut up pieces of your favorite berries. We suggest strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Next, pour in coconut water until ½ inch from the top. Freeze overnight and enjoy the next day!
Tip – when choosing a coconut water be sure to look for something that is completely natural, with no added sugar and not from concentrate. Also, if you don’t have a popsicle mold you can use small paper cups and popsicle sticks.
Frozen Grape Skewers
With only two ingredients, this is a recipe you’ll want to make again and again. Grapes contain a lot of water and the minerals potassium, manganese and iron. Potassium in known to help with high blood pressure and all the water will help keep you hydrated on hot days this summer. So, make a large batch and enjoy them for days on end.
You’ll first need skewers, preferably with a pointy tip to easily slide through the grape. After washing the grapes through cold running water, slide one grape at a time onto the skewer until you have a long row, this tends to be about 7-9 grapes per skewer. Once completed, snip off the pointy end of the skewer with a pair of scissors to keep them safe for kids. Lastly, sprinkle lemon juice over the skewers, making a delicious sweet and sour combo. Place in the freezer overnight and enjoy!
TIP – You can use any fruit for frozen skewers, like blueberries or mango pieces, and it’s a great way to use fruit that it is about to become overly ripe and go to waste in your fridge.
Peach Yogurt Popsicles
Juicy peaches are one of the best parts about summer – especially if they are locally grown. One serving of peaches provides fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and many more beneficial nutrients. They are naturally very sweet and can be bought fresh or canned.
Blend together 1 cup of plain yogurt, 2/3 cup of peaches and 1/3 cup orange juice until smooth with a creamy texture. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze overnight. This is a perfect summer treat but can also be great for breakfast on the go!
TIP – For extra protein, use plain Greek yogurt instead.
We hope you enjoy these recipes and have fun cooking with your family. Don’t be afraid to get creative and swap out new fruits or add your own flair! Do you have any healthy sweet treat recipes your family loves? We want to hear about them. Let us know in the comments below!
***Read our past Nutrition Newbie posts.
Special Blog Post By: Cindy McCown, Second Harvest Food Bank Vice President of Community Engagement and Policy
Summer is here and that means thousands of kids in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties won’t have access to the free and reduced-priced meals they rely on during the regular school year. Making sure their kids have enough healthy food to eat during the summer can be difficult for families already struggling to put food on the table. Second Harvest Food Bank is working to connect families to the nutritious food they need to thrive this summer. According to the Food Research Action Center’s Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report, the lack of nutrition and summer enrichment programs can result in negative health and development outcomes for children, including weight gain and a “summer slide” in learning. To address this, there are a number of resources available, including Second Harvest programs and more than 120 federally funded summer feeding sites where kids can get free meals.
You might ask yourself …How is this possible in such a wealthy area? According to the California Food Policy Advocates, during the school year approximately 70% of low-income students participate in the school lunch program. During the summer months, only about 20% participate in the summer meal program . That’s why Second Harvest works closely with a wide range of community based organizations to create a network of summer feeding sites where kids can get a free meal and also connect families to the nutritious food they need to feed their kids this summer – that could be a bag of groceries from Second Harvest or a free meal through the federal Summer Food Service Program.
There are more than 80 sites in Santa Clara County and nearly 40 sites in San Mateo County where free meals are made available to any child who is 18 years old or younger through the federal Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program. Some of the sites offer free breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack. Second Harvest is working with a number of partners to offer meal sites where parents can eat with their kids, including YMCA Silicon Valley, San Mateo County Libraries – Big Lift Inspiring Summer Program, City of San Jose Public Libraries, Stanford Pediatric Advocacy Program, Ravenswood School District, and the California Summer Meals Coalition. These sites include selected schools and libraries in Atherton, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, and San Jose. The kids’ meals are paid for through the federal Summer Food Service Program and the adult meals are covered by Second Harvest.
The federal Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program are two of many children’s nutrition programs funded through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation. Currently, our federal elected officials are reviewing proposals that will impact these programs for the next five years. This summer, we will have elected officials visit sites to see first-hand how important these programs are to hungry children and their families. The reauthorization is an opportunity for them to protect and make new investments to strengthen many children’s nutrition programs. Let your elected representatives know how you feel about children’s nutrition programs!
For summer feeding sites and groceries, families can contact our Food Connection Hotline.
For information on summer feeding activities, contact Cindy McCown, VP of Community Engagement and Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-694-0018.
“Giving Time” focuses on the invaluable volunteers who donate more than 314,000 hours to Second Harvest each year, more than doubling the size of our staff.
Special Blog Post featuring Lynn Crawford, Agency Office Volunteer, as told to Matt Mastrangelo of Second Harvest Food Bank.
My name is Lynn Crawford and I’ve been volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank for over six years.
I volunteer in the agency office. Second Harvest has hundreds of so-named partner agencies. The partner agencies run their own places and they do the handing out of a lot of the food to the folks who need it.
So, at the Curtner location we have the agency office. The people who run partner agencies can order food from the Food Bank online and those orders are prepped at night and ready for them to pick up as scheduled. I sort those orders out and handle the paperwork for them.
The other thing the agencies can do while they’re here is visit our “shopping area,” which is loaded with assorted items. It’s all free, of course. When they’re finished “shopping” they give me a weight and list of what they took and I prepare their order in our database with that information and handle that paperwork. I get them to sign off on how much they took. So, that’s basically what I do here, three days a week. I also handle donations as they come in, when I can.
I like volunteering. It matches my value system. The Food Bank matches my values. I particularly like Grocery Rescue. I think that’s a great program. I hate to see that stuff just taken to the garbage, because there’s so much good food. I mean, you know a package of cereal where the outside package is torn, but the inside isn’t, you know, there’s no reason to throw that away. People need that food. So, I like that program. For a length of time I worked in the sorting of that stuff. For an old guy, it got to be too much, so I moved into the office.
Finally, let me say, if you’ve ever wondered about volunteering at Second Harvest, you should definitely give it strong consideration. I love it.
***If you would like to volunteer at Second Harvest, visit SHFB.org/volunteer.