“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.
Special Blog Post By: Alex Navarro, Community Nutrition Educator
May is the kickoff to National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. So for those who may have put their January resolution goals in the back burner, now is the time to get active again! This is a great month to begin healthy habits such as eating healthier and moving more. We all have heard of the great benefits that physical activity can add to our life, and on the flipside, we have also heard all of the excuses (mine included) of not having the time for it. Here are some healthy tips to get you started, and some post-workout snacks to refuel your body. Remember to start slow, focus on one goal at a time, and always, always try to involve the whole family.
The countless benefits…
We all know that physical fitness is essential for optimal health, and also helps maintain a healthy weight. Being physically active can also lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, improve muscular fitness and bone health. For older adults, it can lower the risk of falls and improve cognitive function. And for young children, research shows that when children are physically active, they achieve higher grades and have better test scores, and school attendance and behavior is improved.
When the gym is not an option…
Try to make your daily environment your personal gym. But how? No need to spend money on expensive equipment or all of your time at a crowded gym. Here are a few tweaks you can start today. Trust me, the small steps all add up.
Park farther- How many times do we drive around a parking lot just to find the closest parking spot? Try parking farther away to get more steps in your day. The steps really do add up at the end of the week.
Take the stairs – Makes perfect sense. Why sit and wait for a crowded elevator when you can take the stairs and work on your cardiovascular health and leg strength.
Go outside – Whether it’s a nearby community park, a hiking trail, or just around your neighborhood, the outdoors will not only clear your mind, but the physical activity options can be endless; go on a bike ride, take a brisk walk, or throw a ball around with your kids.
Take a lunch walk – Do you have a sedentary office job? Grab some coworkers and take a walk to help break up the day. Even a 5-10 minute walk a few times during the day will improve concentration and keep you better focused to tackle your workload.
Use what’s at home – Water bottles, dining room chairs, your children’s toys… If you look around your house, you will be sure to find objects to safely use for resistance weight training or to get a good stretch in.
How much physical activity is recommended…?
It is recommended that children get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, at least five days a week. For adults, the recommended amount is a minimum of 30 minutes a day for at least five days. Keep in mind that the 30 minutes can be divided during the day. For example, 10 minute walk during lunch, 5 minutes of playing tag with your kids, and 15 minutes of cardio in your living room.
Confused about what to eat after your workout…?
Your body had been working hard, so you need to replenish your fuel with a right balance of protein and carbohydrates. Don’t forget to hydrate with water! Though protein bars may sound like a convenient snack when you’re on the go, they may not be the best choice. Even though their wrappers should make it easy to think that they’re healthy, that may be far from the truth. In reality, they could have even MORE calories, more saturated fats, and more (hidden) sugar than a candy bar.
Just take a look yourself. Below is an ingredient list for one popular brand post-workout bar.
Protein Blend (Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Coating (Maltitol Powder, Palm Kernel Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate, Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Calcium Carbonate, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Sucralose), Hydrolyzed Collagen, Vegetable Glycerin, Soy Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Milk Chocolate Drops (Sugar, Whole Milk Powder, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Maltitol Syrup, Water, Maltodextrin, Canola Oil, Cocoa Powder, Natural Flavors, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin And Mineral Blend (Ascorbic Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, D-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Niacinamide, Tricalcium Phosphate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin), Sucralose, Xanthan Gum, Peanut Flour, Soy Lecithin, Almond Meal.
This product contains sugar alcohols, which may cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Excessive consumption may have a laxative effect.
Or… for a fraction of the price, you can make some healthier alternatives right in your own kitchen. Here are some of my favorites to make. And kids love them too! Click on the links below for the full recipes.
No Bake Energy Bites: peanut butter, rolled oats, coconut flakes, honey or agave, chia or flax seeds, cacao nibs or chocolate chips (optional).
Quinoa Berry Smoothie: cooked quinoa, yogurt, berries, banana, and honey.
Avocado and Egg Toast: Whole wheat bread, avocado, egg, olive oil, lemon juice, chia seeds.
So this month, make sure to enjoy some sunshine and get moving! Let’s start today, one step at a time!
We’d love to hear what your favorite go-to snack is after your workout.
***Read our past Nutrition Newbie posts.
Special Blog Post By: Lisa Mazzocco, Stanford Graduate School of Business Class of 2016
We learned that fifteen students from Stanford Graduate School of Business took on the SNAP Challenge in April – they wanted to experience what it’s like eating on the equivalent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (i.e., food stamps). Encouraging others to take on the challenge with them, students wrote a series of articles sharing logistics, tracking tools, and menu planning.
Interested in taking on the SNAP Challenge? Lisa Mazzocco’s lays out the challenge and why it matters.
Why the SNAP Challenge?
Because you’re reading this, we bet you have an interest in healthy living, and maybe even in helping others achieve that. Fortunately and ironically, though, few of us can say what life’s actually like at the neediest level. So we thought – why not find out? Let’s…
Examine what would be different about our abilities – physical, mental, emotional – if we had to eat with these constraints
Raise awareness of the true value and cost of food
Get insight on a huge market (2016 SNAP budget = $83 billion) in need of innovation, and where even simple ideas have big business potential
I’m in! How does this work?
Spend up to $4.50 per day on food (including dining out), for up to seven consecutive days. Calculate the $4.50 pro-rated based on what you consume that day – we built this handy budget tracking tool to help you
Eat as healthy as possible, keeping in mind that this is how many people eat every day, whereas you can make up for lost nutrients next week
Avoid eating free food or beverage to which folks on SNAP benefits wouldn’t have access (ex. on-campus lunches, office espresso machine)
Try to only eat food that you purchase for the project. If you eat food that you already have at home, account for it in your SNAP budget (pro-rated based on amount you consume)
Refrain from items SNAP participants wouldn’t normally purchase, even if it fits into your pro-rated budget (ex. a SNAP user probably wouldn’t consume almond butter, or coffee that sells for $15/lb)
Your SNAP shopping list and meal plan: How-to
$4.50 a day doesn’t sound like much. But with some smarts and planning, it can go a long way. Here’s how to shop:
Step 1: Get sales flyers from local grocery stores and find the deals that week.
Step 2: Plan your menu for the week, using the deal items and your own nutritional needs as inputs for meal selection. Round out your shopping list with other necessary items*, and before you head to the store, see where your total comes out. Lucky for you there are oodles of great resources to help plan meals, including:
Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day – includes cost/serving estimate
USDA SNAP recipe search – includes cost/serving estimate
*Remember, you CAN use items already in your household, as long as 1) you account in your budget for how much of them you eat, 2) they are items that someone on SNAP could reasonably purchase.
In addition, consistent with what SNAP users have access to, the following do NOT count against your $4.50/day budget:
Coffee/tea available for free at your workplace/residence. But steer clear of the espresso maker, fancy milk alternatives, and other beverages, even if they’re normally free to you.
Free food at church/religious events. We don’t advocate posing as something you’re not to get a meal – but since food is often offered at faith gatherings, which (by and large) don’t make socioeconomic exclusions, this is fair game for SNAP users and also for you.
Typical food pantry allowance. These items comprise a typical week’s selection at SF-Marin Food Bank pantries, free if using SNAP and so allowable outside your budget (see “starter shopping list”).
Step 3: Go shopping! Buy in bulk where possible, weigh your produce, use coupons, choose store brands, and watch the checkout to make sure items are charged correctly.
Step 4: Test your meal plan and track your spend in our handy budget tracker, accounting only for the amount you consume.
*** Are you taking on the SNAP Challenge? Share your experience with us on our Facebook page.
“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.
Special Blog Post By: Elena Hollander, Second Harvest Food Bank Community Nutrition Manager
We are so proud that Second Harvest has officially adopted a new Healthy Food and Beverage Policy!
The food-insecure households we serve are at greater risk for chronic diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, than the average American. They also have fewer resources to manage those illnesses and obtain healthcare. Moreover, client surveys show that clients want more healthy food, specifically protein, fruits and vegetables. To best serve client health and preferences and successfully achieve our mission, we developed a strong Healthy Food and Beverage Policy. This Policy was created using client surveys, the latest nutrition initiatives and research, and nutrition policies of other leading food banks.
The key long-term goals to achieve over the next three years are the following:
Maintain a 50+% distribution of fresh produce
Encourage and facilitate produce consumption through nutrition education, food sampling, and distributing essential cooking ingredients like oil and spices
Increase protein (including dairy) distribution to 24% of all pounds distributed
Focus grain purchases on low-sugar whole grains
Discontinue distribution of candy (which has never been purchased by the food bank, only donated)
Distribute only healthy beverages
Writing the policy required significant collaboration between all of the departments in Second Harvest- from Nutrition to Marketing to Volunteer Services to Food Resources, the list goes on! This is because we have to review all of our practices for acquiring and distributing food to effectively increase the nutritional quality of our food mix. From the Nutrition perspective, it was incredibly inspiring to work so closely with staff across the organization and affirm again and again the strong dedication and passion that everyone has for best serving clients.
Now that the Policy has been passed, it’s time to implement it and one of our key partners that we will be working with is…YOU! Your donations of food are a key source of the food we share with clients. Therefore, if you’re thinking about what food might be most helpful to donate, please consider giving food that can help us to achieve our goals, including the following:
Plant-based cooking oil and spices
Healthy protein items (canned fish, nut butters, beans)
Low-sugar whole grains (cereals, granola, whole wheat pasta, brown rice)
Fruits and vegetables (canned and fresh)
Please also consider leaving candy and sugar-sweetened beverages at home rather than bringing them to the Food Bank. Thank you so much for your help in serving our clients to keep our community healthy! If you have any questions or comments about the Policy, we would love to hear them!
At last month’s Hunger Action Summit, an annual forum that sparks conversation and inspires action to end local hunger, speakers addressed what it will take to ensure that the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs has access to the nutritious food they need to succeed academically. Organized by Second Harvest Food Bank and Santa Clara University, the summit is sponsored by Bank of America and Santa Clara University’s Food and Agribusiness Institute, part of the Leavey School of Business, and held at the university’s Locatelli Center.
One in three kids struggles with hunger in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Studies show that kids who don’t get enough nutritious food to eat have a harder time concentrating and doing well in school, which often translates into lower grades and fewer job opportunities. Making sure kids get enough to eat could help close the academic achievement gap that exists between less-advantaged kids and their wealthier counterparts.
The summit brought together education leaders, anti-hunger advocates, and food policy experts. Celebrated author and educator Chef Ann Cooper, known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” also addressed the crowd, forwarding her mission to make school meals healthier.
The Hunger Index, released during the summit every year, measures the gap between how many meals are needed for residents to eat three meals a day and how many meals they purchased on their own or acquired through federal food-assistance programs such as CalFresh or local organizations like Second Harvest.
S. Andrew Starbird, director of the My Own Business Institute at Santa Clara University and co-creator of the Hunger Index, reported that, despite the soaring economy, the 2014 Hunger Index was virtually unchanged, with a meal gap of 175 million meals in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties compared to 176 million meals in 2013.
Visit the 2016 Hunger Action Summit page on SHFB.org to view the full agenda, access archived livestream of the summit, and download presentations.
“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 Fighter: Marie Lawton, Family Harvest Program Volunteer
How are you helping Second Harvest and our community?
I help Second Harvest in any way that I can. I mainly help with data entry like processing client applications. I also assist with anything that the Family Harvest department needs help with. I’m more behind the scenes but I feel I’m supporting the community by being a part of an organization that does so much good for the less fortunate. I believe that in order for a community to thrive, all of its citizens should be supported. Some people just need a little help.
What inspires you to give?
I’m inspired to give because I’m an empathetic person. I have a big heart and I want to be of service to anybody that needs it. Having kindness and compassion for others is the only way I know how to be. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life but I will never forget where I came from and and how hard it was to get to where I am now. I’m in a position where I have the time to be of service to others. I’m always looking for ways to help others and give back to my community. I believe if you are able to help, it’s your duty to do so.
Why should people care about hunger in our community?
People should care because hunger and malnutrition are a health risk. Malnutrition can cause all kinds of mental and physical issues including death. We live in a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone. Basic nutrition is a human right. A thriving community is a community where all of its people are as healthy as possible and it all starts with nutrition.
Why do you support Second Harvest?
I support Second Harvest because I was once in the same position as our clients. I grew up a poor kid on welfare raised by a single mom (one of five kids). We were lucky enough to have food in the house but if it wasn’t for assistance we would have gone without. I believe in what Second Harvest does for people and I want to be a part of that in any way that I can.
***Meet more of our neighbors working to end hunger in our community.
Special Blog Post By: Alisa Tantraphol, Second Harvest Food Bank Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships
An Rx for Good Health: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates
In 2015, the theme of our annual Hunger Action Summit was Food as Medicine: The Intersection of Hunger and Health. The summit brought together national experts, public health professionals, and hunger advocates to discuss the relationship between food and health. One of the goals was to foster cross-sector collaboration to support the prevention and management of chronic disease through the provision of healthy foods to vulnerable, food insecure populations. Chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension are often diet-related, and tend to be disproportionately high among people seeking food assistance. More than one-third of Second Harvest clients have diabetes, which is three times the national rate.
One of the ideas that came out of that summit has now become an exciting reality. In partnership with Samaritan House, and with support from the Sequoia Healthcare District, we’ve opened the first Food Pharmacy for people with diabetes in San Mateo County. Modeled after the National Institutes of Health-funded South Side Diabetes Project in Chicago (which has shown promising results), our new Food Pharmacy is located at the Samaritan House Free Clinic in Redwood City and is thought to be the first of its kind in California.
Diet plays an integral role in managing Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes, but for many low-income individuals, the healthy foods they need to prevent or control diabetes are often out of reach. They can’t afford it; they live in food deserts and are limited to the packaged goods at the convenience stores in their neighborhoods; they work multiple jobs to make ends meet and don’t have time to cook…the list of challenges goes on and on.
Fortunately, providing healthy food for people in need is Second Harvest’s mission. As this KTVU story on our Food Pharmacy reported, the cost of providing free healthy food is a lot less than the cost of treating the effects of a worsening disease. Possible complications from diabetes include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, eye damage, kidney damage, foot damage (sometimes necessitating amputation) and more.
Because of their successful medical clinics, Samaritan House was a natural partner to begin exploring food as medicine. Samaritan House has been one of the Food Bank’s long-time community partners, receiving over 850,000 pounds of healthy food from Second Harvest each year. Their medical clinics serve thousands of uninsured, low-income patients (typically the working poor) who are treated by physicians who volunteer their time at the clinic.
When a Samaritan House doctor prescribes healthy food to a patient, the patient can immediately fill the food prescription on-site in the clinic, free of charge. Second Harvest stocks the food pharmacy with food selected specifically to be appropriate for diabetic patients including: fresh fruits and vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta and cereal, milk, eggs, yogurt, beans, whole chicken, tuna, and healthy snacks.
Clinic patients may receive food from the pharmacy twice per month, taking home approximately 30-40 pounds of healthy, nutritious food (enough to make 33 meals) each time. The goal is to serve an average of 100 individuals per month during this pilot year.
In addition to providing food, Second Harvest nutrition education staff provide clinic patients with nutrition education (including tip cards, diabetic dietary recommendations and information on how to purchase healthy foods on a budget) and cooking demonstrations (teaching patients how to prepare their newly acquired ingredients in a manner that is healthy, simple, affordable and tasty). We also have a staff member on-site at Samaritan House weekly to educate and enroll patients in our other food programs and to provide CalFresh (food stamp) application assistance.
Pre- and post-evaluations will help us determine the efficacy of this program. A second Food Pharmacy, also to be operated at a Samaritan House medical clinic, is slated to open later this year in San Mateo. We’re vetting additional partners for eventual program expansion.
As Dr. Jason Wong, Samaritan House Medical Director of Health Care Services, explains, “Diabetes, as well as other diet-related illnesses, runs rampant in low-income communities. For people struggling to make ends meet, cheap filling foods are often their only choice, but these are ‘empty’ unhealthy calories, not good nutrition. Thanks to this transformational partnership, clinic physicians are now able to get patients and their families the real food they need, supply tips on how to prepare the food, and monitor the results.”
Please save the date: March 15th (morning program and lunch) for the 2016 Hunger Action Summit at Santa Clara University. Our theme this year is “Too Hungry to Learn” and we will examine the connection between food security and academic achievement. The conference is free. Click here for more information.