What is the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act?

Special Blog Post By: Cindy McCown, Second Harvest Food Bank VP of Community Engagement and Policy

We have an opportunity to let our federal elected representatives know why providing healthy food to children matters.

The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR) that governs many federal nutrition programs for low-income children is currently being reviewed by Congress. This process provides an opportunity to strengthen the programs so they can better address the food needs of our nation’s children and their families. Some of the programs include:

  • Summer Food Services Program – Provides meals/snacks to children during the summer. This summer, selected public libraries in both Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties provided healthy meals along with enrichment activities.
  • School Breakfast & National Lunch Breakfast Program – Provides breakfast/lunch/snacks at school.
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) – Provides nutrition education and supplemental nutritious foods for infants, young children and pregnant women.
  • During the Congressional August recess, our representatives have been back in their districts. I took the opportunity to let them know how critically important these programs are to low-income children and families that Second Harvest Food Bank serves. I was able to arrange visits to Second Harvest food distribution sites, so that they could talk with constituents about their food needs and see first-hand what is being done to address hunger.

    After Labor Day, our representatives will return to Washington to discuss various proposals during the Child Nutrition Reauthorization process. It is important for them to hear from their constituents about why these programs matter.

    Join me on September 15 for a national call-in day to talk with elected representatives about CNR. I plan to voice how important it is to pass a strong child nutrition bill that will increase access to healthy food for children struggling with hunger. It will take all of us to solve hunger. We’ll let you know how you can take action as we get closer to the call-in day – keep an eye on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. (include links to FB and Twitter)

    For more information on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, go to Feeding America or Food Research and Action Center.

    Local Hunger Fighters: Silvia Montaño and Jesus Calderón

    “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: Silvia Montaño and Jesus Calderón

    How are you helping Second Harvest Food Bank and our community?
    Every month we get together at the Franklin McKinley School Site located in McKinley Elementary School in East San Jose and enjoy delivering food baskets to more than 500 registered low-income families. We work with San Jose State University and community members, and are led by a group of mothers called, “Champions of Health.” We are grateful to be working with the Food Bank to help our own neighbors. Helping is a privilege that makes us very happy as a family.

    What inspires you to give?
    We are inspired to help our families. Knowing how they work so hard and how difficult it is to put food on the table, then having to pay for a roof over their heads is also a challenge every month. There’s very little money for food. I am also a person that has to work and has a family and knows the struggle that we all have to go through. Helping them makes me feel proud because I’m helping the ones in need.

    Why should people care about hunger in our community?
    I think all of us at some point in life have felt the need to eat. Knowing that there’s hunger and how that makes our stomachs feel. Imagine how that affects our children, not letting them concentrate on their school work. Learning is elemental in the life of any student and feeling hunger at the same time does not give them the opportunity to learn. Understanding the needs of our families inspires and gives us the courage to continue serving.

    Why do you support Second Harvest Food Bank?
    It’s a resource that informs families about food and nutrition, and always looking for a way to help. It’s a group that is attached to its work and supports whoever asks. They are willing to do their best to make this happen. It is a privilege to be part of Second Harvest Food Bank!

    ***Meet more of our neighbors working to end hunger in our community! Click here to read past Local Hunger Fighters posts.

    August 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.

  • 6 Welfare Myths We All Need to Stop Believing, MASHABLE.COM
  • “These stereotypes simply aren’t true. We need to dispel the myths surrounding government benefits so we can truly understand the value of welfare, the humanity of those receiving it and the improvements that could be made to better support those in need.”

  • Report: Silicon Valley’s Housing Affordability Crisis Worsens, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • “Less than 25 percent of workers and just 40 percent of households in metro San Jose are able to rent or buy average-priced housing”

  • Skip the Pharmacy, Head to the Farm: Physicians Write Prescriptions for Fruits, Vegetables, WTOP.com
  • Love this! In our own community, thanks to a partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 500 pediatricians received recommendations for screening patients for hunger, as well as our “Nutrition Rx” pads to connect patients to food bank resources.

  • Rising Silicon Valley Rents: A Mountain View Tale, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • “…this guy’s leaving over here. And this couple — she’s a physician, and he’s an IT guy, and they have a new baby, and they’ve decided they just can’t make a life here. Our Shangri-La is unhinging.”

  • Newlyweds Skip Traditional Banquet to Feed Thousands of Refugees, TAKEPART.COM
  • “I thought that sharing a big delicious dinner with our family and friends was unnecessary, knowing that there are so many people in need living next door.” So inspiring!

  • How to Choose the Healthiest Foods at the Grocery Store for the Least Amount of Money, BUSINESSINSIDER.COM
  • What are your tips for eating healthy on a budget?

  • Study Shows Link Between Hunger and Health Care Costs, AGWEEK.COM
  • “…when considering the benefits associated with SNAP and other food assistance programs, their effects on health-care costs should be acknowledged.”

  • Food Banks Struggle to Meet Surprising Demand, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • “…the increased demand is surprising since the economy is growing and unemployment has dropped from 10 percent during the recession to 5.3 percent last month. However, many people who have found jobs are working only part-time or for low wages, and others have stopped looking for work.”

    Happy Retirement to Kris Sulpizio, our Director of Volunteer Services – we will miss you!

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

  • Finding Affordable Housing Mean a Longer Commuter for One Silicon Valley Worker, KALW.ORG
  • Sound familiar?

  • This One Chart Reveals How Long Your Food Actually Lasts, ATTN.COM
  • “…expiration dates often cause many Americans to needlessly throw away food and contribute to the $165 billion worth of food that goes to waste every year.”

  • Map: How Student Poverty has Increased Since the Great Recession, WASHINGTONPOST.COM
  • “Such high-poverty districts need more money to help address the issues that their students bring to school, including hunger, homelessness and higher risks for mental health challenges…”

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

    Nutrition Newbie: Pack a Nutritious Punch

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

    Special Blog Post By: Alex Navarro, Second Harvest Food Bank Nutrition Educator (San Mateo County)

    It’s back to school, and with breakfast known as the “most important meal of the day”, and dinner being quality time with family, it’s easy to argue that the importance of school lunch is often overlooked. As a parent of two children, I can relate to the hectic 7:00 am mornings where you have to strategically balance your time between making breakfast (or the endless energy it takes to repeat the “importance of breakfast”), helping find your child’s missing shoe, making sure homework is actually in their backpack, all while getting yourself ready and out the door on time.

    Given our busy schedule, it’s easy to choose the popular and convenient, pre-packaged lunches, even though we know that they are more expensive and offer less nutritious foods. A well-balanced healthy lunch is especially important for school kids, and benefits the child by giving him/her energy to remain alert during class time. Many studies, such as the one conducted by Tufts University of School Nutrition, have confirmed that students who skip lunch, or have an unhealthy snack for lunch, tend to be more distracted in the classroom.

    It’s easy to make packing a school lunch part of your morning routine, and also fun to have your child be involved in the process. When you get your child to help pack his/hers own school lunch, you are not only teaching them responsibility and independence, but also educating them about nutrition, portion control, and balanced meals. Studies show that when a child makes their own lunch, they are more inclined to eat it, and enjoy it.

    When packing a healthy, well-balanced lunch, try to cover all five food groupsgrains, protein, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. Small lunch, kids-size containers will also help with controlling the portions. If your child is a picky eater when it comes to vegetables, try adding a dip like hummus or cream cheese to compliment the vegetables. Choosing a fruit in season will be sweet enough for their meal, – so no need to add “fruit snacks” to the lunch (which happen to be mostly sugar and no fruit). It’s also important to add a snack to their lunch, if your child is in an after-school program or sport. This also keeps them from overeating as soon as they get home, and reaching for quick unhealthy pre-packaged food.

    Here are some quick easy go-to ideas:

    Choose a GRAIN and PROTEIN

  • Turkey sandwich
  • Peanut butter sandwich
  • Beans and rice
  • Granola and yogurt
  • Pasta and turkey meatballs
  • Chili and crackers
  • Hummus and crackers
  • Cheese quesadillas
  • Choose a FRUIT

  • Apple slices
  • Clementine
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Cucumber slices
  • Choose a VEGGIE

  • Carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Green salad
  • Zucchini sticks
  • Coleslaw
  • Choose a SNACK

  • String cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Trail mix
  • Seaweed
  • Granola bar
  • Popcorn
  • Choose WATER

    Choose healthier alternatives:

    Parents can find more information and ideas on this topic below:

    School Lunches article from KidsHealthy.org (in English and in Spanish)

    Healthy School Lunches and Snacks article from Parents.com

    ***Read past Nutrition Newbie posts!

    Food Pharmacies and Healthy Food Prescriptions

    Food is medicine. It provides the nutrients we all need to stay healthy. That’s why we’re partnering with healthcare providers to ensure that everyone has access to the nutritious food they need to thrive. We are working with our longtime partner Samaritan House, located in San Mateo County, on an exciting new “food pharmacy” pilot. The pharmacy will fill physicians’ “prescriptions” for healthy food, free of charge, for 200 low-income, uninsured patients with diabetes at Samaritan House Free Clinic of Redwood City. Sequoia Healthcare District is generously underwriting the pilot program.

    We sat down with Dr. Jason Wong, Medical Director at Samaritan House Free Clinic of Redwood City, and Bart Charlow, Samaritan House CEO.

    What are some of the challenges your patients face in terms of accessing healthy food? What impact does that have on their health?

    Jason: The challenges of accessing healthy food include barriers related to cost, culture, transportation, and knowledge. Specifically for diabetes, which is a very diet-sensitive disease, these barriers lead to poorer control of diabetes and poorer health outcomes and complications.

    Bart: When you’re on a tight budget, you’ll eat whatever food is filling and cheap. Unfortunately, that food tends to be a bit of a nutritional wasteland. The clinic’s patients often experience not just temporary hunger, but food insecurity—the enormous physical and psychological impact of not knowing where your next meal comes from. That can have huge, long-term health consequences.

    Jason: Eating habits formed by food insecurity are adopted by the entire family. We hope that the food pharmacy will help enable parents to model healthy eating habits for their children.

    What is the typical content of a bag you’d prescribe to your patients?

    Jason: We’ll work with a nutritionist to develop the exact contents, but in general a bag would consist of a variety of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fresh produce. The bags would also include educational material about diabetes, recipes, and healthy lifestyle changes.

    The food pharmacy will serve patients with diabetes, are there plans to extend these efforts to include other conditions?

    Jason: In the future, we might consider other diet-sensitive diseases like high blood pressure.

    ***Stay tuned for more information on this exciting pilot!

    July 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.

  • I Get Food Stamps, and I’m Not Ashamed – I’m Angry, VOX.COM
  • “It makes me burn when people assume I could give something up and then I wouldn’t need assistance.”

  • How to Reduce Kitchen Waste, BONAPPETIT.COM
  • Don’t toss those broccoli stalks, carrot tops, and onion skins! Rethink your kitchen scraps. #foodiefriday

  • When School’s Out for Summer, Millions of Kids Go Hungry, MONEY.CNN.COM
  • Great article about some of the innovative ways communities are getting meals to kids who need them during the summer. One of our own efforts is a collaboration with the Pediatric Advocacy Program at Stanford School of Medicine, the Ravenswood School District, San Mateo County Library System and local YMCAs. ‪#‎hungerfreesummer‬

  • Baltimore Restaurant Owner Opts Out of Restaurant Week to Feed the Homeless Instead, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
  • So Inspiring.

  • 8 Million Baby Boomers Face Hunger in USA, Report Finds, USATODAY.COM
  • According to a new Feeding America report, at least 8 million Baby Boomers are facing hunger in the USA and may be more vulnerable to food insecurity than their older peers

  • Debunking 5 Common Myths about Food Banks, PASTEMAGAZINE.COM
  • Did you used to believe any of these myths about food banks?

  • How Much is $100 ACTUALLY Worth in Your State?, SOCIAL.REFINERY29.COM
  • County-level data would be even more revealing, right?

  • Seniors on Food Stamps May Be Able to Get Groceries Delivered, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
  • What do you think about this idea?

  • 10 Healthy Eating Habits That Will Change Your Life, TIME.COM
  • Love these easy and practical tips

  • The Remarkably High Odds You’ll Be Poor at Some Point in Your Life, WASHINGTONPOST.COM
  • “By the time they’re 60 years old…nearly four in five people experience some kind of economic hardship: They’ve gone through a spell of unemployment, or spent time relying on a government program for the poor like food stamps, or lived at least one year in poverty or very close to it.”

  • More Children are in Poverty Today Than Before the Great Recession, PBS.ORG
  • “’It’s pretty clear from the data that the rising tide of economic recovery has not lifted all boats…We still haven’t made up ground of where we were pre-recession’ for many low-income families.”

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

    Local Hunger Fighters: SHFB Outreach Team

    “Local Hunger Fighters” is a series that spotlights our awesome supporters and staff who help raise awareness of hunger in our community and motivate people to get involved.

    In this special edition of our “Local Hunger Fighters” series, we’re featuring three members of our Food Connection Hotline and Field staff. Second Harvest Food Bank has made a commitment to ensure everyone who needs a meal in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties can get one. Some of our neighbors don’t know about the resources available. The Food Bank has dedicated seventeen staff in our region to connect people in need to healthy food resources and the CalFresh program. Staff goes to libraries, community centers, medical clinics, apartment complexes and special community events, in addition to Food Bank partner organization food distributions. Each one of our Outreach Team members brings great compassion to their work. They are a special group, connecting thousands of people each year to food, and hope.

    How are you helping Second Harvest and our community?
    Sylvia Pandza, Food Connection Outreach Coordinator since 2011:
    “When I share the information about all the free food resources that Second Harvest offer, I am not only giving our community an opportunity to stretch their budget, but also the opportunity to eat better, and healthier. When I moved to California, I was amazed to see that the ‘dream-land’ also battles hunger. The difference here is that resources exist, such as those provided through Second Harvest Food Bank, with a mission of providing food where needed ending hunger. I have been a client and received these free food resources. Receiving the support when I needed it made me stronger. I love being part of this mission and bringing good news to my community about the food resources they can be eligible for.”

    What inspires you to do this work?
    Aida Crosby, Food Connection Specialist since 2014:
    “My family of six went through a very difficult period during my husband’s two-years of unemployment. All of our savings were used up in less than a year and then we were hungry, we did not have any money for gas, food, and all services in our household were cut to the bare minimum. Our children’s grades began to suffer and they went to school hungry sometimes. My oldest son lost 30 pounds in less than three months. We had to water our soup many times. Our church started to help us a little bit, and some families would donate money so we could afford to have food.

    One day, as I was taking the family to be seen at the Foothill health clinic, Alejandra –a Second Harvest Food Bank Outreach Specialist- had a table at the clinic and I learned about all the services of the Food Bank, and how they sign people for CalFresh (Food Stamps). Our family started receiving almost $800 for food through CalFresh over the next six months. I later applied for an open Outreach Specialist position for the Food Bank. The Second Harvest CalFresh Outreach program literally saved my family. Until we experienced our own need and I began to work for the Food Bank, I was not aware of so much need and the incredible hardships families and individuals are subjected to in Silicon Valley. In a way, I am glad that it happened because it gave me the understanding and knowledge to be the best conduit possible to help families.”

    Why should people care about hunger in our community?
    Huong Nguyen, social worker and Food Connection Specialist since 2011:
    “A child cannot concentrate in school and will not be able to learn and grow into the person they can become. Even for working adults, they cannot focus on making enough income to care for their family. Hunger makes everyone, at any age, weak.”

    ***Click here to meet more people working to end hunger in our community.

    Nutrition Newbie: Let’s Not Spoil the Summer Picnic

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

    Special Blog Post By: Alex Navarro, Second Harvest Food Bank Nutrition Educator (San Mateo County)

    Tis the season of longer days, warmer weather, and outdoor picnics. But before we pack the cooler and sunscreen, it’s important to remember some key food safety tips in order to keep our food safe from any contamination and bacteria. As the temperature rises outside, so does the risk of foodborne illnesses due to food left out for longer periods of time without proper refrigeration. The good news is that foodborne illness (food poisoning) is almost always preventable. So whether you are in your kitchen or out at a Summer picnic, remembering these simple food safety tips will keep you and your family safe.

    I always try to put it in simple terms when I teach our monthly food safety classes here at Second Harvest Food Bank. It comes down to a few key points: keep cold food cold, hot food hot, follow the 2hr rule, and wash your hands and surfaces often.

    • Packing a Cooler – In order to keep food safe, it needs to be kept at 40 degrees F or colder. This temperature prevents bacteria from growing. Make sure that the food is cold when you put it in the cooler. Keep cooked/ready-to-eat foods separate from raw meats such as chicken or ground beef. You should also pack any raw meats in secure plastic bags in order to prevent cross contamination. If possible, use separate coolers. When using one cooler for all food, make sure the raw beef or chicken is placed at the very bottom of the cooler with a protective sheet barrier over it. This will prevent any raw juices from leaking onto other food. It’s also important to keep cold drinks in a separate cooler, as this cooler will be opened more often throughout the day. Pack with ice just before leaving the house.
    • Serving Food – Hot food needs to be kept hot, 135 degrees F or hotter, to prevent growth of harmful bacteria. You can keep the food warm on a lit grill but remember to follow the 2-hour rule, not to leave perishable food out for more than two hours. This applies to grilled meats, casseroles, pasta salads, dips, etc. Keeping food out for longer than two hours in the “Danger Zone” (temperature between 41 degrees to 135 degrees) can be grounds for bacteria growth at a harmful level that can make you sick. You also should keep food covered to prevent contamination from insects, which can carry viruses and also be a physical hazard in foods.
    • Keep it Clean – Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling ALL food. According to ServSafe National Restaurant Association, poor hand washing, and poor personal hygiene, is the number one cause of foodborne- illness outbreaks in the US. Don’t use the same platters or utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Cleaning down surfaces where you will be handling the food is just as important. It’s a good idea to pack moist sanitizing wipes and disposable gloves for quick clean-ups, and remember to replace with new gloves when changing to a different task.
    • Leftovers – One of the great things about picnics is being able to sit and pick at food all day long. To prevent your picnic from spoiling, it’s important to follow the 2 hour rule. Wrap food up and put it back into the cooler as soon as you are finished eating. Placing perishable food over a bowl of ice will also help keep it at a safe temperature. Once the ice starts to melt, throw out the water and replace with more ice. Bring small containers to make it easy to separate and pack food up.

    Now that you know how to have a no-risk picnic, go out there and enjoy the beautiful Summer days with friends and family. Stay hydrated everyone!

    ***Access past Nutrition Newbie posts!

    Food as Medicine – Nutritious Meals Matter to Ardys

    Special Blog Post By: Ardys, Brown Bag Volunteer and Client

    Food is inseparably linked to health and nutritious food keeps seniors strong. Seniors at risk of hunger are vulnerable to chronic health conditions. According to a study by Feeding America and National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, compared to their peers, seniors at risk of hunger are 60% more likely to experience depression and 53% more likely to report a heart attack. Ardys, a Brown Bag program volunteer and Second Harvest Food Bank client, explains why nutritious meals matter to her.

    I’m from a generation that kept and nurtured gardens in their yards. Back then, they were called ‘victory gardens’ and planted during World War II to ensure that we would have enough food to eat. Having access to nutritious and affordable food is important at my age and helps me stay healthy.

    When I’m not volunteering to support the Food Bank’s senior Brown Bag program at Saint John’s in Sunnyvale, I’m teaching local kids about where their fruits and vegetables come from.

    Yesterday a little boy saw me loading a bunch of tomatoes into a basket. He seemed hungry, so I gave him one. To my surprise, he thought it was an apple and had no idea that it grew out of the ground. That child was excited to learn something new and that he liked tomatoes. Those moments make my day. I sent him home with some seeds that I have in an ice tray in my freezer and told him that all he needs to do is plant the seed in a pot and the melting ice will help it take root.

    With the support I receive from Second Harvest and the abundant fresh fruits and vegetables I grow in my garden, I’m able to eat well and share the food I cultivate with my neighbors in need. For me that’s another kind of victory!

    ***Read our 2014 Hunger Study: Hunger in Our Backyard for a glimpse into the lives of the people we serve.

    June 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.

  • Asking for Help at 80 – America’s New Faces of Hunger, PBS.ORG
  • “In 2013, the last year for which data is available, 15.5 percent of America’s seniors — roughly 9.6 million people — faced the threat of hunger…When mortgage payments and medicine are a priority, there is not always money left for food.”

  • Life on the Dole: Stories From Mothers, GAWKER.COM
  • New weekly series from Gawker features personal stories from people on food stamps and other safety net programs

  • Baltimore Schools Will Now Give Free Meals to All Kids, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
  • Love this!

    Thank you @bitesv for an awesome weekend! #bitesv

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

  • Trader Joe’s Ex-President Opens Stores With Aging Food and Cheap Meals, WW2.KQED.ORG
  • What do you think about this grocery store concept?

  • Here’s Why Americans Waste So Much Food, SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
  • What motivates you to reduce food waste?

  • Stand Up for Kids and End Child Hunger (Op-Ed), MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • Have you ever thought about what role pediatricians can play in the fight against child hunger? A recent op-ed by Cindy McCown, our VP of Community Engagement and Policy, and Dr. Lisa Chamberlain, pediatrician at Ravenswood Family Health Center, talks about how we’re collaborating in East Palo Alto.

    Just a couple of the adorable cards that we received from students at St. Timothy’s Lutheran School in San Jose

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

  • 5 Amazing Strategies to Eliminate Food Waste and Feed the Hungry, TIME.COM
  • Some really good ideas here. On our end, we continue to expand our grocery rescue program which makes excess, unused food from local grocery stores available to neighborhood pantries, shelters and soup kitchens.

  • To Tackle Food Waste, Big Grocery Chain Will Sell Produce Rejects, NPR.ORG
  • Last week, Raley’s announced it will tackle the food waste problem by selling less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables starting in July. Would you purchase these so-called ‘produce rejects’?

  • What It’s Really Like to Cook on a Food Stamp Budget, THEKITCHN.COM
  • Want to know what the real challenges are for people cooking on a food stamp budget? Check out this blog post from The Kitchn.

  • East Palo Alto: Food Collaborative Aims to Feed Needy, MERCURYNEWS.COM
  • “The criteria for a meal is any child who comes can get a meal. We want to make sure there is not any stigma attached to this (program).” – Susan Takala, Second Harvest Food Bank Director of Community Partnerships

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