No New Funding or Improvements for Federal Child Nutrition Programs

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


In 2016, individuals, organizations, faith communities and anti-hunger organizations including Second Harvest Food Bank worked hard with policymakers to reauthorize funding for the federal child nutrition programs.  Unfortunately, we were not able to do so.    The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR) that governs many federal nutrition programs for low-income children provides funding for a 5 year period.  During this process, there is opportunity to strengthen the programs to better address the food needs of our nation’s children and their families. This past year, there were many interesting proposals and promising new investment ideas considered to have deeper impacts on the lives of hungry children.  Programs that are impacted include:

  • The Summer Food Services Program – Provides meals to children during the summer. This summer, select libraries in both Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties provided healthy meals along with enrichment activities.
  • National School Lunch Program – Provides lunch to qualified children at school.
  • The School Breakfast Program – Provides breakfast to qualified children at school.
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) – Provides nutrition education and food for infants, young children and pregnant women.
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program – Provides meals and snacks to children and adults in child and adult care centers, as well as well as children participating in an afterschool programs.

There has been concern expressed about what will happen to the programs without the reauthorization.  All of the programs will continue to operate.  By not moving forward with the reauthorization, it limits the ability to make new investments, improvements and policy changes within the programs.

In 2017, it will be critically important to stay informed about how important these programs are to providing nutritious meals to children and their families.   Having access to nutritious meals is an essential component to children being able to develop, grow, learn and thrive to their full potential. For more information, contact Second Harvest Food Bank and visit FRAC’s Legislative Action Center.

Fighting Hunger at San Jose State University


With 91,000 public college students (community and four-year/public schools) in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, hunger on college campus is a real problem in our community.

A 2015 San Jose State University Student Food Access Survey of 5,000 students found:

  • 21% sometimes/often didn’t eat for a full day
  • 39% sometimes/often were hungry but didn’t eat because they didn’t have enough money
  • 50% sometimes/often cut size of meals or skipped meals because they didn’t have enough money


Second Harvest Food Bank’s Just-in-Time Mobile Food Pantry brings more than 10,000 pounds of food to the SJSU campus every month, where 80 volunteers, including students, hand it out to students in need.

To qualify for the free service, students must be a current SJSU student with an annual income below $23,540.


At a recent food distribution, many SJSU students spoke to Second Harvest Food Bank staff about why they were there to get food.

Not having enough money, which in turn meant making tough choices, was often mentioned.

“I have a $30 a month budget for food, so the idea of 2 free bags of food is mind blowing to me,” said Nick Mosca, an Applied Computation Mathematics student. “I don’t have a lot of time to have a typical, minimum wage job just because of my schedule. So I have to do tutoring, which can be very hectic in terms of clientele and what kind of income I can have.”


Tied directly to a lack of funds for adequate, nutritious food was the struggle to afford the cost of living in Silicon Valley.

“Me and my roommate, and we have another roommate…we split $3,000 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment – that’s more than my parents’ mortgage for their house,” added Lauren Cook, a Communications Studies student at SJSU. “I’d rather pay for living costs for a place to sleep than food at the end of the day, unfortunately.”

Out of the 11 colleges Second Harvest directly or indirectly works with, San Jose City College and San Jose State University are the only 2 colleges who operate as a “Just in Time” school pantry distribution. All other 9 colleges have onsite pantries that are typically open Monday through Friday.


In order to address food insecurity within colleges, Second Harvest works with various colleges to run two types of distribution models.  One is called the “Just-in-Time” model where food is delivered monthly and distributed within a couple of hours. The second model is called an “On-Site” model where food is delivered weekly to the college for distribution to students. The Just-in-Time Mobile Food Pantry made its first delivery to the SJSU campus in October 2016.  Nearly 330 students received fresh fruit, vegetables, canned food and other groceries, and the numbers have been increasing every month.

Inside the Food Bank: Prepping the Product for Volunteers


It’s 7:30 a.m. at our Cypress Center and our staff is already getting set up to host volunteers for the day. The Volunteer Services staff rarely gets down time with hundreds of volunteers coming through our buildings daily. While it keeps our staff busy, distributing nearly 1.2 million pounds of food per week to our neighbors in need would be impossible without help from volunteers.

The day starts with an empty sort room and within two hours it is set up to host 50+ volunteers for the first shift. Since Cypress Center is our produce hub, the volunteer sorts have to be prepped just before the volunteers arrive since the fruits and vegetables have to be kept in the “cooler” (what we call the giant refrigerator in the warehouse). This morning the vegetables of choice are carrots and red cabbage, in addition to bread. These choices were made in cooperation with our Inventory team, based on what’s in the warehouse, how quickly it needs to get turned over, what is needed to make menus for clients, and how many volunteers are coming in that day.


“When setting up for volunteers, the goal is for everything to be ready to go when they come in so that we can provide a good process and clear instructions to complete whatever project we put before them. No matter how chaotic things get behind the scenes, we want our volunteers to feel valued because what they do is important for our work. Our volunteers could always be doing something else with their time but they place their trust in us to have a good experience and in turn we trust them to show up and help us get food out the door,” said David Saxton, Volunteer Coordinator.


The Volunteer Services staff moves pallets of produce from the cooler to the sort room and expertly organizes it for easy sorting. Once the volunteers arrive, they sort out the bad produce, which goes to farms to feed pigs and other animals, and repackage the produce into manageable boxes for distribution, usually 25 pounds each. There are bins for waste, tables for sorting, scales for weighing the finished boxes, and empty pallets for stacking the newly created boxes. By 9:30 a.m., the volunteer sort room is ready to go and our corporate volunteer group has begun their important work.

While November and December are our busiest seasons for volunteering, we need help all year round, and we are starting to feel the shortage of help after the holidays. Go to the Volunteer section of our website to see current volunteer opportunities, not only at our Cypress Center but also at our Bing Center in San Mateo County, as well as the ongoing opportunities available at our distribution sites. All groups must be scheduled ahead of time, so please consider signing up your company, community group or a group of family and friends to volunteer this spring to give back in a big way to your hungry neighbors in need.

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.


“The fastest growing economy among large U.S. cities, by the numbers, is San Jose, California, which saw its GRP surge 43.6% between 2010 and 2015.”

“The SNAP eligibility requirements for noncitizens can be complicated, which is one reason why the participation rate among noncitizens might be substantially lower than that for native-born citizens (coupled with a potential language barrier). This in and of itself is a tragedy, considering that any child who is a U.S. citizen living in a household that falls below the income threshold for SNAP is eligible to receive food stamps, as is any nonnative child with legal status.”

“Close to 30 percent of the Bay Area’s residents aren’t able to make ends meet as they contend with high housing costs, suggesting poverty is more widespread in the region than official reports indicate…”

“One out of ten families in the Bay Area lives below the federal poverty line of $24,300, with take-home pay of $22,222.” Tipping Point Community offers a way for people to feel what it’s like to live below the poverty line.

“A new report shows that the college campus hunger problem goes far beyond a few sad stories. It surveyed more than 3,000 students at a mix of 34 community and four-year colleges, finding that 48% experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days.”

Our CEO Kathy Jackson did a Q&A with Silicon Valley Magazine!

“Even though homelessness in America’s cities continues to decline, food banks and pantries are still being stretched thin as the number of people seeking emergency food assistance climbs, according to a survey of mayors from 38 of the nation’s cities.”

“In the midst of a recovering economy, low unemployment and nearly nonexistent inflation, the fact remains that nearly 1 in 7 Americans still goes to bed hungry each night. According to recent statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 15.8 million U.S. households — that’s 12.7 percent of the total — didn’t have enough food to eat at some point last year, the latest period for which numbers are available.”

“‘We’ve got two trends that are moving in the wrong direction. The first one is rising need and the second one is a plateau, if not an actual reduction, in year-over-year giving,’ said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank.”

“The study…found that only about 7 percent of all giving by private foundations in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties goes to local nonprofits. That’s $94 million out of a total of $1.2 billion. Only 3 percent went to nonprofits that are not only based locally but also dedicated to addressing local needs.”

*** Read our past Social Media Roundups.

Giving Time: Heidi Gonzalez

“Giving Time” focuses on the invaluable volunteers who donate more than 310,000 hours to Second Harvest each year, more than doubling the size of our staff.

Special Blog Post featuring Heidi Gonzalez, as told to Matt Mastrangelo of Second Harvest Food Bank.

Heidi poses with SJ Gigante during one of her volunteer shifts.

Heidi poses with SJ Gigante during one of her volunteer shifts.

My name is Heidi Gonzalez. I started volunteering at Second Harvest in the 1990s when they built the Curtner warehouse. I became a team leader in 2002 when I finished my MBA at San Jose State. I thought that if I can work full-time and go to school, once I’ve completed school I could handle working full-time and being a team leader.

Typically, I come in on weekends and evenings and my role, aside from wearing this lovely blue shirt and lovely matching sweatshirt, is after the volunteers are welcomed by a Second Harvest staff member and get situated, I organize them around the task at hand. That can be sorting through the fresh produce that’s donated or it can be the canned goods from food drives. We are the many hands of volunteer labor, and I help to organize them, give instructions, guide them along the way, and help move the pallets once they’re loaded.

The shifts are usually two hours long and we can move anywhere from a few thousand cans, to over 5 tons of pears, in one shift. It’s remarkable, the amount of work that happens here on any given day.

Fighting hunger is important to me because hunger is in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It starts with nourishment. Food, shelter, safety. There are so many folks in need. The statistics I rattle off to volunteers, the “nearly 1 in 10 people get food from Second Harvest” or how now we help feed over 250,000 people per month. You know, when I started the number was less than 60,000. The scale that it’s grown is alarming to me. For me, as the product of immigrants – my grandparents immigrated from Spain, my mom immigrated from Europe after World War II – I’ve heard stories, first hand accounts of what it’s like to go without.

My grandparents were some of the earliest Spanish settlers in Sunnyvale and they put together, I’d call it a safety-net. It was a social club, but really to help the immigrants coming into the country and it was called Sociadad de Cervantes. It was set up to help immigrants first getting off the train in Sunnyvale with food, a place to stay, as they got on their feet here, working with agriculture. I think they inspired me in that regard. Nowadays I’m so fortunate, and there are so many people that aren’t. I feel that I can help with a bridge, it’s not a handout, it’s a bridge getting people to a place where they can make ends meet.

It’s heartbreaking to me to think of the wealth that we have. It just doesn’t make sense… in this area, how can we have people go hungry?

If you’re thinking about volunteering, you should know it’s the easiest thing to do. You just show up at your assigned time and they prep you. It’s not like the work where you feel this burden of “oh my gosh, I didn’t finish.” As much as you can do or whatever you can do makes a difference. And I’ll tell you what. It’s so energizing. To meet these members of the community that are pulling together to help and make a difference. It makes me feel better to know that I’m putting my time where it’s needed.

***If you would like to volunteer at Second Harvest, visit

Nutrition Newbie: Making Resolutions a Reality

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

Special Blog Post By: Elena Hollander, Nutrition Program Senior Manager


Happy New Year! We hope you had a lovely holiday season and are ready to start fresh in 2017.

Each New Year, approximately half of Americans make resolutions, but only 8% of Americans succeed in meeting those goals. We’re going to share some insider tips to help YOU make your resolutions a reality in 2017!

In one-on-one nutrition consulting sessions, nutritionists like to create SMART goals with clients:

Specific – Specify the “who, what, where, when, and why?” For example, instead of, “I will live a healthier life,” your goal could be, “I will drink only 1 soda a week during the weekend in order to cut down on my sugar.” This makes it much more easier to wrap your head around and start doing.

Measurable – Once you know your goal, make sure you can measure success. This can help you track your progress and celebrate each success to stay motivated. If we use our example above, if you only drank one soda a week, then cheers to you!

Achievable – Is your goal challenging, but still attainable given your skills and abilities? For example, my ultimate goal of becoming a gelato master may not be achievable in one year given my current skill level, but I could probably master one flavor – pumpkin spice gelato next January, anyone?

Realistic – Even if you are technically able to achieve your goals, are they realistic given your current lifestyle? Last year at New Years, I bought a brand new juicer to start off my juice cleanse…which lasted approximately four hours. I was training for a half marathon and after a long morning run, juice was not going to cut it!

Timely – Goals are easier to achieve with a timeline, including a start and end date. Your start date doesn’t have to be January 1 if January is too hectic for you. Maybe February is a calmer and easier time to start a new habit? Choose what works for you.

Once you have your goals, writing them down and sharing them with friends and family makes you more likely to achieve them so go ahead and update that Facebook status!

As always, remember to be kind to yourself. Few people achieve their SMART goals without any setbacks. Use setbacks as a learning opportunity to discover triggers and how you can set yourself up for success the next time around.

Happy New Year once again and best of luck with your resolutions! You CAN do it!

***Catch up on our past Nutrition Newbie posts.

The True Story of Instagram Legend #warehousewill

Members of Second Harvest’s Communications team, those same people who “manage” the myth of social media legend Warehouse Will, sat down with the aforementioned star to provide some insight into the man behind the pictures posed with produce.  The interview is published in its original, haphazard and circuitous form. 

Warehouse Will in his element.

Communications Team: You know you’re being recorded, so I don’t have to legally tell you you’re being recorded. State your name for the record, please.

Warehouse Will: John William Hospers aka “Warehouse Will”.

CT: John William Hospers… why do you go by an assumed name? Why not John?

WW: Because everybody’s named John.

CT: Makes sense.

WW: Will has a little character, right? (No offense to Johns out there!)

CT: So who is Warehouse Will?

WW: Who is Warehouse Will?

CT: Yeah, you play this role on Instagram, but what do you think… Is Warehouse Will you all the time or is it not you all the time? There’s definitely been times where Warehouse Will has been locked in a freezer or the door’s been closed on him while he’s carrying stuff.

WW: Sure. I haven’t thought too much about whether Warehouse Will is a separate entity from Will Will. I think we’re one and the same. You’re just capturing little pieces of what I do in my day to day, whether it’s in the freezer or it’s in the cooler. I’m holding pieces of produce or chicken.

CT: Do you feel like that bleeds over into your real life? At home, do you carry around fruit?

WW: I don’t. No one’s taken pictures of me at home.

CT: You don’t pose in front of the mirror and hold up an apple or something?

WW: No.

CT: Why are you Warehouse Will? What is Warehouse Will?

WW:  Because it’s alliterative and it’s a very good… name.  And because I’m always in the warehouse. It’s absolutely essential to my job.

CT: What’s your job?

WW: As Inventory Coordinator I have to do inventory control. I have to make sure that all our produce inventory is accurate for distribution. Cause that’s also what I do. I allocate our entire produce inventory. Manage it. Make sure it gets out in a timely fashion.

CT: All the produce for Second Harvest come to the Cypress Center (Second Harvest’s North San Jose warehouse)?

WW: The vast vast majority.

CT: Do you like it in the warehouse? I understand it’s a fundamental aspect of your job.

WW: Yeah, I’m happy in the warehouse, moving around, inspecting things, seeing it first-hand, rather than getting information by email or something.

CT: You mean, instead of someone calling you on a walkie-talkie saying “These broccoli don’t smell too good”?

WW: Yeah. Or some facility is doing this or that. I need to be able to touch and smell things if there are problems.

CT: So in a larger-scale operation you wouldn’t necessarily be able to see the problems, you’d have to hear about them and get photos? It could be done remotely?

WW: I think it’s a great help to be right on top of it.

CT: When did you learn to juggle?

WW: Probably sometime in high school. I just taught myself.

CT: I don’t understand juggling. What are you doing? Explain to me, you’re throwing one, catching one, and one’s in mid-air all at the same time?

WW: Yes.

CT: I don’t get… how did you even figure that out?

WW: I watched something. And I had three objects and… well…

CT: You just started juggling?

WW: Yeah.

CT: I don’t believe that. That’s at least the first lie of the interview, if not the second.

WW: Is this like two-truths and a lie?

CT: I don’t know. Whatever you want it to be. What’s a typical day like for you? You come in and what do you do? You sit down and you wait for us to come calling for Instagram pictures?

Warehouse Will laughs.

Warehouse Will laughs.

WW: (laughs) I think that’s pretty much it.

CT: I’d hate to over-simplify your job.

WW: First thing I do is my inventory control phase, every day. I do my cycle counts.

CT: What’s a cycle count?

WW: A cycle count is when you’re counting portions of your inventory, every day, with the idea that you’re cycling through your entire inventory in a given period of time. So, my given period of time is one week. I cycle through my entire inventory, theoretically counting every piece of my inventory, every week.

CT: And you’re not opening every box and counting every piece of broccoli, right?

WW: No. I’m counting every case or bin.

CT: OK, so after you count your cycles, then what do you do, in the morning?

WW: Then I start working on our distribution. All our menus for the night’s pick, which is the next day’s delivery.

CT: What’s a menu?

WW: A menu will be, for example: The Family Harvest at Washington United Center. I am responsible for roughly 50-70 pounds of produce for each family. I have to figure out roughly what we have, and how do I get to 50-70 pounds, based on the menu from the Food Bank’s Programs and Services team. They put in the menus and appointments, and I see what’s coming up and I start allocating food.

CT: That’s for the next day?

WW: Yes. Right now I have two days worth of menus.  I have tonight’s and tomorrow’s just about ready to go. And that rolls, so, everyday I have two days worth of orders going.

CT: Do you ever feel like today is tomorrow?

WW: All the time. It’s incredibly… when you start really thinking about it, you start twisting your mind into knots.

CT: Right, it’s like Inception in the warehouse. That’s interesting. What hour of the day do you feel the most productive? During the cycle count? In the menu production?

WW: The 8 to 10 am window is go, go, go time. There’s a deadline to get those menus done, because Operations is waiting for that. So if I don’t get that done, then I have many other problems.

Warehousin’ with #WarehouseWill this #WarehouseWednesday 🍎🍐 #howthefoodbankworks

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


CT: Do you wish you were in the warehouse more?

WW: I spend the perfect amount of time in the warehouse. I balance that out with my amazing time in the office, as well. Sitting behind a computer.

CT: When you’re not in the warehouse and not behind a computer, where could one of your fans find you?

WW: Are you asking about when I’m not working?

CT: Yeah, what’s a Warehouse Will haunt?

WW: A coffee shop. That’s a good spot.

CT: You’re a big coffee drinker?

WW: Absolutely.

CT: Are you an Ethiopian blend or a French Roast kind of fellow?

WW: I’m not an aficionado. I just enjoy going to a coffee shop, sitting outside, perhaps with a friend, and enjoying the coffee and the conversation.

CT: Is a friend necessary?

WW: No.

CT: Interesting. Do you like to read?

WW: I’m a big reader, yeah.

CT: What kind of books do you read?

WW: Fiction.

CT: Mostly fiction?

WW: Pretty much all fiction. Very little non-fiction. But, all different genres of fiction.

CT: Do you have a favorite Warehouse Will moment? Were you able to go back through them… do you have a photographic memory?

WW: No.

CT: Can you remember some of them?

WW: Yes.

CT: Is there any that you particularly cared for or that you did not like?

WW: I’ve liked most of them. I think the one that I was the most uncomfortable with was the bok choy post.

CT: Which was the bok choy one?

WW: The silly one with the ears.

CT: I’ve never seen that one.

WW: I might’ve been a little embarrassed by that one. But it was OK at the time.

CT: For a while we were attempting to make subtle pop culture references to various movies.

Warehouse Will and his little friends. #warehousewednesday #warehousewill #fresheggs

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

CT (cont’d): Do you think those posts fell upon deaf ears (eyes)?

WW: Perhaps.

CT: Was it the way we marketed it?

WW: It might’ve been ahead of its time.

CT: Do you think we should bring those back?

WW: It’s possible. There’s certainly a lot of opportunity there.

CT: Taking a page from Tiger Beat and Teen Beat magazines, we’d like to know what kind of music you listen to.

WW: Sure, I’m into, what do the kids listen to these days?

Other CT: Drake. Beyonce.

WW: Yeah, definitely… (spoken in a very non-committal tone)

CT: What, do you like Chopin? I don’t understand which way you’re going.

WW: I do like classical music.

Warehouse Will likes Chopin.

Warehouse Will likes Chopin.

CT: What about New Age? Do you like Yanni? Or Enya?

WW: No. I like indie rock. So, Shins, I have a lot of Shins in the old record player.

CT: You have a lot of shins?

WW: I have quite a bit.

CT: I only have two.

WW: I have at least three different albums… The Strokes.

CT: You like The Strokes?

WW: I do, a lot.

CT: How do you feel about the criticism that The Strokes drummer is so perfect he doesn’t sound real? That he might be a robot?

WW: (laughs)

CT: When we flash your picture on the screen, do we say, “Sorry, ladies, he’s taken”?

WW: Single and ready to mingle.

Single and ready to mingle!

CT: Interesting. If you could sit down and be face to face with your adoring fans, is there anything you’d say to them?

WW: Donate to your Food Bank.

Other CT: Do you have a favorite fruit or vegetable?

WW: I’m a big broccoli fan. Also, pears are my favorite fruit.

CT: You like pears?

WW: Oh, and raspberries. Can I have a berry, too?

CT: Interesting. You can have a berry, also.

WW: Pears are the best.

CT: Do you eat the cores?

WW: I do not. I think it’s strange. The core is almost inedible. And if you eat the seeds, you’ll get a pear tree in your belly.

CT: True. What about the idea and or act of eating the potato skin?

WW: I’m totally OK with that. I love them.

CT: You eat the potato skin?

WW: I do. Especially sweet potato skins.

CT: What about artichoke hearts?

WW: Not a fan. It’s a texture thing. I love the leaves. Not a fan of the hearts.

CT: When you have the leaves, do you dip them in butter or mayonnaise?

WW: The best thing to do is mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce.

CT: That’s a mixture you make at home?

WW: Yes.

CT: Have you ever had Just Mayo?

WW: Yeah. It’s OK. I’m OK with that as well with artichokes. Butter, it’s fine, too.

CT:  Melted butter or?

WW: Yeah, of course.

CT:  Not just a stick of butter that you rub on the leaves?

WW: No.

CT:  Do you also deal with the meat that comes through Second Harvest or only produce?

WW: We do a small portion of dry/frozen goods at Cypress. The vast majority of that goes to Brown Bag programs in Santa Clara County. So, yes. But we deal mostly in produce.

CT: Do you feel like that screws up your day when it shows up?

WW: No.

CT: Cause it’s part of the deal?

WW: It’s part of the whole. Part of the deal.

CT: Do you feel like, in the end credits of this interview, we should put “Warehouse Will will return in…” like in the James Bond movies? Is it weird to put Warehouse Will will? Does that sound too odd?

WW: It might be. Maybe in quotation marks?

CT: If you were James Bond, what would your first Bond sequel be called, starring Warehouse Will?

WW: A View To A Will?

CT: Oh, jeez. It doesn’t have to be a pun… Do you like gum?

WW: Big gum fan.

CT: What’s your favorite cuisine? Asian, sushi, Mexican food?

WW: I like all kinds of food.

CT:  You like your mom’s cooking?

WW: Of course, who would say no to that question?

CT: Oh, I know a couple of people whose moms are terrible cooks.

Other CT: If your fans wanted to send you gifts, what are things you like to get?

WW: Make checks payable to SHFB? Bring canned food donations.

Other CT: What’s your favorite animal?

WW: Dogs. Domesticated animals, dogs.

CT: What’s your favorite zoo-type animal… or fish?

WW: It wouldn’t be a fish.

CT:  What about the octopus? They’re cool.

WW: If it’s marine mammals, it’s the sea otter! Those are fun, I like those. Birds of prey are pretty cool. Hawks.

CT:  What would you say to the observation that I feel often goes unnoticed, that the colloquialism “killing two birds with one stone” is an oddly violent thing to say?

WW: When you think about a lot of those adages, they’re very weird.

CT: That one’s pretty violent. I was typing it out the other day in an email and it read so terribly. I thought, why am I typing about killing two birds? Forget about just one. Why am I stoning two birds?

WW: And why the efficiency? You’re going to run out of stones?

CT: Also, odd. Maybe this is a caveman saying. From back when there was so much energy spent trying to get sustenance, you’d love to be able to kill two birds at once with the little amount of stored strength you have left.

WW: Only had the energy to lift one stone.

CT: It’s probably written on a cave wall… You got any good stock tips?

WW: Not right now.

CT: Who’s gonna win the 2017 World Series?

WW: Giants.

CT: Great. Thanks, Warehouse Will. This really clears up any questions anyone might have about you.

WW: It was my pleasure.


Warehouse Will Will Return In...


Day at the Donation Tent: A Snapshot of the Holiday Spirit


When you work at Second Harvest Food Bank, the season all staff members collectively know as “Holiday” is busy! The months of November and December are a flurry of food drives, events, dock donations, volunteers, and of course getting food out to families in need. Despite all the craziness, there is no better time to work at the Food Bank. The feelings of community, philanthropy, and gratitude are abundant, and spending time at the donation dock on the day before Thanksgiving was a great reminder of that.

The donation tent at our Curtner Center is the central drop-off point for food donations in Santa Clara County during the holiday season. At the tent I worked with the volunteers to greet donors, unpack, weigh and sort donations, and provide receipts. One volunteer I met was Kyle, currently a sophomore at Gonzaga University and former student at Archbishop Walter Mitty High School. It was his 5th day volunteering since he’s been home on break from school.

While volunteering was required in high school, Kyle was donating his time to Second Harvest this year because he enjoys it. “When you volunteer, you’re always surrounded by other positive people,” he said. “It puts it all in perspective and reminds you how good you have it.” I was inspired by Kyle’s commitment to volunteering during his time off and reminded of all the great people who come through the Food Bank every day.


The stream of donations was steady, coming in the form of canned goods and dry goods, money, and turkeys! It was great to see the community rallying to donate what they could to help provide food for others right before Thanksgiving. One little girl, who refused any kind of recognition for her good deeds, had created a flyer and distributed it to her neighbors asking for food donations. With the help of her dad and brother, she collected all the donations and brought them to the Food Bank. She just wanted to help people and knew that food was something everyone needs.

While I usually work behind the scenes at the Food Bank, working at the donation tent was a great reminder of all the community members who contribute time, money, and food to ensure that we can help anyone who needs a healthy meal to get one. There’s still time to stop by one of our facilities to donate before the end of the year, find our holiday hours here. You can also donate online.

Nutrition Newbie: May Your Days Be Merry, Healthy, and Bright

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

Special Blog Post By: Alex Navarro, Nutrition Education Coordinator, San Mateo County


It’s that joyous time of the year again to celebrate with our family and friends. It’s also no surprise that with celebrations come rich, decadent foods – and lots of them. For those that have been working hard at eating healthy, or losing or maintaining your weight, this may be a difficult time for you. With the holiday parties upon us, some consider that overly used logic of just waiting to start eating healthy again on January 1 – new year, new you, right?

Don’t let the holidays stress you out quite yet. Rest assured that the average American gains only about one pound during the holiday season, but overindulging can also leave you bloated and sluggish the rest of the year with less motivation to stay on track. We can’t beat ourselves up for all the miniature Halloween candy bars we had, or that second serving at Thanksgiving dinner. But we can start making changes now. Let us help you stay focused…

Here are some of my favorite HEALTHY HELPFUL TIPS to help you stay on track this holiday season:

Don’t arrive to the party on an empty stomach.

This is something that I also repeat to clients when they go grocery shopping. Don’t shop on an empty stomach; don’t arrive to the party on an empty stomach. You will be able to have better control over your food choices if you’re not feeling like you are in starvation mode. I recommend a light snack an hour or two before you arrive, something that will digest slowly like whole wheat crackers with peanut butter, or a small apple and a cheese stick. This tip will help you avoid that ravenous feeling altogether.

Bake healthier by substituting ingredients.

We all know how important it is to follow a recipe especially when we are baking. But with a few simple ingredient substitutions, you can create a healthy recipe that won’t sacrifice taste or enjoyment. You may have some of these healthier ingredients already available in your own pantry. Using spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg is another way to add flavor to your favorite dessert and allows you to cut out some of the sugar. If baking for guests, they will be so thrilled that it’s homemade, they won’t even realize it’s healthier.


As a chocolate lover myself, when I found out you can make delicious brownies out of red kidney beans, I had to try it myself. You will love them! Here’s the Chocolate Red Kidney Bean recipe.

Also, this website has top healthy recipe substitutions that won’t sacrifice the flavor. Check out these easy ingredient swaps:


Lastly, don’t forget to make time for yourself.

The holidays can be a joyous time of the year, and also hectic and stressful. During stressful times, we tend to forgo eating healthy and making time to exercise. While a gym workout may not fit into your busy schedule, you can try to devote 15-20 minutes, a couple times during the day, for exercise. Lunch break walks are a great way to get some physical activity in. Also don’t forget to make some time for yourself doing something you really enjoy. In the midst of holiday cheer, busy shopping days, and children out of school, it’s easy to put ourselves last. Learning to unwind and devote time for yourself is key; even 15 minutes a day can do the trick.

Adding these few tips into your routine this holiday season will have you feeling better about yourself and your food choices. The one thing that all great food has in common is the pleasure that we get from eating it. So if you are going to indulge a bit more, remember do practice mindful eating. Enjoy your meal to the fullest by slowing down, and paying full attention to your food. Like I always tell my own kids: “It’ll taste better if you’re sitting down.”

For more tips on making healthier choices this holiday season check out this MyPlate 10 Tips Guide.

***Catch up on our past Nutrition Newbie posts.

New Funding Secured for School Breakfast Program

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


Second Harvest Food Bank is committed to working with policy makers, school administration, food service staff, teachers, parents, and students to increase local participation in the Federal School Breakfast Program (SBP).  We see this as a vital meal program to address childhood hunger and help every child reach their full academic potential.

Millions of low-income children have benefitted from the School Breakfast Program that launched as a pilot program established by the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. In the inaugural year, the average daily participation was 80,000 meals which has grown to an average of 14,900,000 breakfasts last year!

It has been well documented that students who have breakfast are better equipped for academic success.   If a child’s stomach is growling from hunger, it is hard to focusing on learning.  A report from the Food Research & Action Center and the National Association of Secondary School Principals found that students who have breakfast:

  • Exhibit improved cognitive function
  • Perform better on standardized tests
  • Show decreased tardiness, absenteeism
  • Have fewer behavioral issues

Principals reported:

  • 82% increased school breakfast participation
  • 66% fewer occurrences of student hunger
  • 47% improved student attentiveness
  • 33% fewer tardy students

In Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, approximately 35% of low-income students are reached by school breakfast.  The School Breakfast Program has changed over the years, the traditional model is providing breakfast in the cafeteria before school but there are alternative service models that have been proven to increase access. One of the most significant ways to increase participation is to make breakfast part of the school day.  Some of the best in class alternative breakfast models include: Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab n’ Go, and Second Chance Breakfast.

Earlier this year, Second Harvest Food Bank and other anti-hunger organizations worked with policy makers to make investments for schools expanding to offer alternative breakfast models.  We were successful in securing new funds in the 2016-17 California budget.  In early 2017, breakfast after the bell grant opportunities for these alternative models will be available to schools through the California Office of Education.  Check with your local school district to see if these alternative breakfast models could be an option for them.

We should all be concerned about the short and long-term impacts that hunger can have on the outcomes of children.  Join Second Harvest Food Bank in working towards a hunger-free community where all children have access to nutritious food.

Learn more about USDA School Breakfast Expansion Strategies here and read more about the history and policies behind the School Breakfast Program in a new report by WhyHunger here.