Doing More, Together

Special Blog Post By: Kayla Haley, Community Relations & Events Associate at Second Harvest Food Bank

Our partners play a vital role in distributing food to community members in need. Every year we bring this network together for a day of learning and networking. It is an opportunity for them to connect with each other and learn about community resources to help their clients. The Harvest of Knowledge Partner Conferences took place on March 28, 2014 in Santa Clara County and April 4, 2014 in San Mateo County. The theme of this year’s conferences was “Together we can do more,” with an emphasis on attendees joining with their peers to learn new ways to serve their clients better.

Conference attendees started off their morning with a fun activity break set to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” to get their blood pumping and their minds working before heading on to the workshops. Workshop topics included pantry best practices, managing volunteers, communication techniques, fundraising, nutrition for children, and more!

In addition to the workshops, the conferences also give Second Harvest a chance to honor some of our exceptional partners in the fight against hunger. The partner awards for each county are determined based on the characteristics of exceptional communication, collaboration, and the willingness to do more. This year’s winners are:

Outstanding Grocery Rescue Partner Awards
Santa Clara: St. Joseph’s Family Center
San Mateo: Edgewood Center Pantry

Exemplary Partner Awards

Santa Clara:
St. Justin’s Community Ministry
Logos Christian Fellowship Food Pantry

San Mateo:
St. Francis Center
Mid-Peninsula Hispanic Outreach Ministry / Latinos Unidos en Cristo

Two very special awards – the McCown-Takalo Anti-Hunger Advocacy Awards – are given to an individual in each county who has been a long-term advocate in the fight against hunger. These awards are based on the characteristics of honesty, integrity, tenacity, and compassion. The individuals must also put the needs of clients first and serve as a spokesperson for the underserved. This year the honorees are:

McCown-Takalo Anti-Hunger Advocacy Awards
Santa Clara: Jimmy Ancira, Our Lady of Guadalupe Food Program

San Mateo: Bonnie Miller, The Salvation Army – Redwood City

Thank you to everyone who attended! The Harvest of Knowledge Partner Conferences would not have been possible without our sponsors – Applied Materials and Oracle. Thank you for helping us provide a free day of workshops and networking for our partners and for supporting the mission of Second Harvest.

***To see some of the presentations from workshop presenters, visit

March 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.

3/2: U.S. Lets 141 Trillion Calories Of Food Go To Waste Each Year, NPR
“The sheer volume of food wasted in the U.S. each year should cause us some shame, given how many people are hungry both in our own backyard and abroad.” Indeed. Last year, we rescued 27 million pounds of fruits and vegetables that were perfectly edible and nutritious, but not perfect for grocery stores. As a community, we must do more.

3/4: Study: Where Are All The Coupons for Healthy Foods?, The Boston Globe
Are you a couponer? Have you noticed there’s a lack of coupons for healthy foods? This article shares research on this and includes links to where you can find some of them.

3/6: The other day, Anika and her mother, Aisha, came by to donate food. For Anika’s 7th birthday party, instead of presents, she asked her friends to bring cans, dry noodles, and other non-perishable foods for Second Harvest. Their goal was to collect 250 cans, but when they fell short, Aisha went to Costco to purchase the difference. Aisha called to see if we could provide a certificate to Anika for reaching their goal. We made one and added a Second Harvest water bottle and lunch bag. She was so happy. :) Thank you, Anika and Aisha, for your support!#thankfulthursday #latergram

3/11: How Aid to the Poor Is Also an Investment, The New York Times
“When poor, pregnant women and their young children had access to food stamps, those children had better health and economic outcomes as adults than did children born at the same time but in neighboring counties that did not yet offer such nutritional support.” ‪#‎NoHungerBully‬‬

3/13: California drought to drive up food prices in the long term, San Jose Mercury News
The drought could have a devastating impact on our clients: 27 million pounds of the food we distribute annually is fruits and vegetables donated by farms and growers in our state.

3/17: Who uses food stamps? Millions of kids, that’s who, CNBC
A new report from the USDA showed that about 45% of food stamp benefits went to children under 18 (totaling about 20 million children in the U.S.). ‪#‎NoHungerBully‬‬

3/24: If economy is reviving, why are more Americans struggling to afford food? (+video), The Christian Science Monitor
“Despite official signs of economic recovery in the US, more Americans struggled to afford food in 2013 than in 2012.”

3/25: Why Charity Can’t Replace the Safety Net,
Cuts to CalFresh and other federally-funded food assistance programs increases the need for food. This article from does a good job explaining why it’s impossible for private charities to make up the difference.

3/26: Apples Vs. Oranges: Google Tool Offers Ultimate Nutrition Smackdown, NPR
Check out NPR’s write-up of Google’s handy nutrition comparison tool. Think you’ll use it?

3/28: It’s a party at the Harvest of Knowledge partner conference this morning!

3/28: Mollettes, A Nutritionist Eats
Mollettes – many of you may already be familiar with this yummy, budget-friendly goodness, but I’ve only recently tried it for the first time. And apparently, the same is true for A Nutritionist Eats. Super easy to put together! ‪#‎foodiefriday‬‬

3/29: Report: You Need to Earn $29.83 an Hour to Afford a 1-Bedroom in San Francisco, KQED
“San Mateo, Santa Clara and Marin join San Francisco atop the charts as four of the six most expensive counties in America.” *drops mic*

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

Keeping an Ear to the Ground

“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: Martín Huici at Second Harvest Food Bank

What is your role at Second Harvest?

I am the CalFresh Outreach Coordinator at Second Harvest. I am part of a team that promotes the use of CalFresh and our other food resources in our region. There are several aspects to this work, including developing new partnerships for outreach and CalFresh promotion, providing direct service to clients, and doing presentations to potential beneficiaries and to the staff of agencies with which we partner. One aspect of the work that’s critical is keeping one’s ear to the ground to discover what other leading food banks and nonprofits are doing, and determine how to introduce these best practices into our work.

You recently accepted a fellowship at the Latino Board Leadership Academy. What is the academy and what does the fellowship mean to you and to Second Harvest?

The Latino Board Leadership Academy recruits Latinos and provides training on the fundamentals of board service, with the ultimate aim of placing more Latinos in boards of non-profits whose missions are aligned with their values and interests. The Fellowship will allow me to gain a deep understanding of the workings of a high-performing nonprofit board of directors. This knowledge should balance nicely with my experience as a staff member in a large nonprofit like Second Harvest. The more each side understands the interests of the other, the better each will understand each other’s actions. A more direct benefit of the Fellowship is that I will bring the lessons learned on strategic thinking to bear on my work at Second Harvest.

What inspires you to do this work?

People make the best of the cards they are dealt through effort and perseverance. Working at Second Harvest has underscored for me that those holding 2s and 7s are trying just as hard as those with pocket aces to get ahead, provide for their families, or lead a happier life.

Why should people care about hunger in our community?

First, because hunger is here, all around us, as testified by the existence of one of the largest foods banks in the nation. Second, because a person should always know where their next healthy meal will come from. Third, because a community without enough food, or enough healthy food, is more likely to transmit its own challenges to the next generation. Finally, people should care about hunger in our community because they can do something about it.

***Click here for more information about CalFresh.

Meet Francene and Her Family

For Francene Aquino, age 11, hunger can act just like a bully, “It can take away your lunch.”

Francene lives with her mother and younger sister Arianne (age 9) in the Alum Rock neighborhood of San Jose. The home where they rent a room stands in sharp contrast to the city filled with luxury towers, a sizzling economy, and the miles of bike lanes that connect commuters to high-tech jobs. Yet this same area known for producing innovations in technology is now coping with stagnant wages and skyrocketing housing costs that challenge low-income workers like Francene’s Mom, Arlene.

Even though she works full-time, Arlene struggles to put enough food on the table for her family. A caring mother, she worries about the impact of hunger on her girls. When she was hungry, Francene said that she felt “tired, dizzy and confused” and felt like she “just couldn’t do anything.” Her story is not uncommon. One in three kids in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, are hungry and often don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

That’s when Francene’s Mom reached out to Second Harvest Food Bank for help. “My kids were overjoyed when I came home with bags full of fruits, vegetables, bread, milk and eggs,” said Arlene. Francene exclaimed, “I like broccoli and eggplants, and there’s milk!” For the first time, in a long time, their refrigerator was not only full but with the right kinds of food. “My girls will be ready for school,” said Arlene.

When Francene heard about Second Harvest’s “Hunger is a bully- Stand up for kids” campaign to raise awareness about child hunger, she was eager to lend her voice. Comparing hunger to a bully was an idea she understood. “Yeah, that makes sense to me! Hunger can make you feel sick and bad. And like how bullying hurts your heart, hunger hurts your tummy and hurts your heart.”

By conquering the hunger bully, things are looking up for Francene. She has more energy to play sports at school and finds it easier to concentrate on learning. She is also looking forward to a science camp in the spring and hopes to one day become a doctor so she can work with children and families.

At Second Harvest Food Bank, we see the devastating toll hunger takes on kids. It doesn’t have to. “Donating is one of the most selfless acts we as human beings can undertake. With your generous giving you are transforming the lives of people most especially children who are hungry,” said Arlene.

***Stand up for the 1 in 3 kids in our community who are bullied by hunger. Take action today!

February Social Media Roundup

“Social Media Round-Up” is an ‘ICYMI’ compilation of the top hunger-related news articles and other interesting tidbits posted on our social media profiles.

2/7: 65 Healthy Meals You Can Make From Leftovers, Greatist
Don’t let leftovers in the fridge go to waste; try repurposing them! Here’s some food inspiration (with recipes) from Greatist ‪#‎foodiefriday‬

2/9: What Does 200 Calories Look Like?, wiseGeek
Do you know what 200 calories look like? Check out the photos in this fascinating food project from wiseGEEK.

2/10: It Takes More Than A Produce Aisle To Refresh A Food Desert, NPR
Our awesome nutritionists go out in the community to provide cooking demonstrations and food tastings, as well as information and tips for eating healthier. This NPR article confirms why their work really matters.

2/16: The Benefits of Food Stamps Go Far Beyond Nutrition, Chicago Magazine
“A lot of attention is given to SNAP as an economic program… [but] it’s a public health program – and, it seems, an educational one as well.”

2/19: Picturing hunger in America, PBS
A Colorado-based photography project entailed giving digital cameras to SNAP recipients and asking them to chronicle what it’s like to be hungry. Check out some of the revealing photos in this PBS NewsHour article.

2/22: Nearly 40 percent of the food grown in America never gets eaten. Watch this short PBS Food video to see how some people are trying to reduce ‪#‎foodwaste through food rescue, gleaning, and other methods.

2/23: It’s easy to address hunger in our state by “checking off” the Emergency Food for Families fund on your state tax return between now & April 15. The Emergency Food for Families fund supports food banks by contributing roughly half a million dollars to the TEFAP program each year. For more info:

2/25: Food Access Research Atlas, U.S.D.A
Curious about where people can’t buy fresh, healthy food? With just a few clicks, the U.S.D.A.’s Food Access Research Atlas shows you where the food deserts are across the U.S.

2/26: Food Tank’s Spring Reading List, Food Tank
Check out this great spring reading list from Food Tank: The Food Think Tank on a variety of food system issues, including food security, climate change, and soil degradation.

2/27: Bill Thomas and Bob Aiken from @feedingamerica stopped by our offices yesterday (pictured here with our CEO Kathy Jackson). Together, we can solve hunger! #latergram

2/27: First Look: The FDA’s Nutrition Label Gets A Makeover, NPR
Have you seen the proposed new nutrition label, released earlier today by the FDA? What do you think of it?

2/28: 31 Unconventional Uses For An Ice Cube Tray, Will Cook For Friends
Many of us freeze foods to make them last longer. Have you thought about how freezing food is also a good way to reduce food waste? This ‪#‎foodiefriday‬, we’re sharing an intriguing post from Will Cook For Friends about the various foods you can freeze in an ice cube tray (trust me, it’ll make total sense once you read the post).

*** Did you miss our inaugural Social Media Roundup? Click here to read January’s highlights.

National Nutrition Month Photo Challenge

Special Blog Post By: Maria Niles, Local Blogger

My friend Marcia Silva at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties invited me to take part in Feeding America’s Photo-a-Day Challenge for March which is National Nutrition Month®. Hunger is one of the key areas in which I focus my charitable giving and support so I eagerly agreed. Plus, since this is my year of 30 day challenges and of a photo+story a day, this is a perfect project for me to take part in.

Hunger remains a significant problem in this country. Far too many people go hungry every day. There are many challenges on this front for food banks to fight including helping those people who use food bank services get nutritious food and learn how to make the most of their limited resources to prepare healthy food choices on limited budgets.

Feeding America reports* that:

    Feeding America strives to provide those facing hunger not only with enough food to meet their needs, but also with increased access to healthful, nourishing foods. This includes providing our clients with Foods to Encourage (F2E), such as fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein, whole grains and low-fat/non-fat dairy. These foods are emphasized in the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines, but they are often out of reach for many of the families we serve.

    Nearly two-thirds of the food we distribute through the Feeding America network is classified as F2E. Providing a range of fruits and vegetables to those facing hunger is a top priority. As part of this effort, each year, Feeding America distributes more than 800 million pounds of fresh produce. Our goal is to increase our distribution of fresh produce to 1 billion pounds annually.

Marcia also wrote a terrific post showing how the Second Harvest Food Bank is working here on the Peninsula and South Bay to increase the amount of healthy food they are able to provide as well as to share nutrition information with community members.

I hope you’ll follow me and Second Harvest on Instagram or Pinterest to see the photos I’ll be sharing daily over the month of March. Better yet I hope you’ll take on the challenge yourself and share a photo-a-day and encourage your friends, family and followers to think about nutrition and ways in which they can support Second Harvest or their local food bank.

*Taken from: “National Nutrition Month® Overview: Promoting Nutrition in the Feeding America Network 2014 Theme: Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”

View Maria’s original post on PopConsumer.

***Thanks to Maria for taking on the Photo-A-Day Challenge! We are very excited to see how nutrition inspires her. Her photos will be reposted on Instagram and pinned on Pinterest to inspire our followers too. If you decide to tackle the challenge, don’t forget to tag @2ndharvest so we can find you.

Nutrition Newbie: Yes, You Can(ned Food)!

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

I love brainstorming Nutrition Newbie topics with Janet Hung, a Second Harvest Community Nutrition Educator. Through various channels, I gather up potential topics to bounce off of her. This time around, I brought up the fact that February is National Canned Food Month and while canned food is one of the most need foods at the Food Bank, I wasn’t quite sure how I could tackle the topic from a nutrition angle.

Janet waved her finger at me and said it’s a great topic because canned food is “pretty under-rated, but such a great source of nutrition and food!” I was intrigued. Growing up, there was more canned food in my life, but as an adult, I’ve minimized the amount due to my perceptions that all canned food is unhealthy.

Janet noted the following benefits about canned food (which I’m sure my parents totally understood):

  • Canned food has a long shelf life. This point proven by many zombie-apocalypse movies, obviously.
  • Canned food is quick and easy. The food is precooked and safe to consume immediately.
  • Some people may find the food texture challenging, but for others, canned food is an affordable and good alternative to fresh foods when necessary. Make your canned food meals healthier by adding fresh vegetables, protein or even grains for a quick meal.

    Below is information and tips about the different kinds of canned food available at the grocery store:

    Canned Fruits and Vegetables
    Canned fruits and vegetables don’t lose their nutrients because they are packaged soon after they are picked. They’re also a great way to get vitamins and minerals from produce that isn’t in season.

    According to Janet, canned tomatoes are actually higher in nutritional value since they are cooked already and cooked tomatoes have more phytochemicals. A recent study also found that canned peaches are nutritionally on par with fresh peaches.

    Tip: Canned fruits and vegetables do have added sugar or salt as a preservative, so do drain and rinse canned foods twice to help lower sugar and sodium intake.

    Canned Protein
    Canned proteins, such as canned chicken, tuna and salmon, are all highly valuable sources of protein. In fact, salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is actually better canned because it’s packed with the bones intact, meaning there’s more calcium, and some of the fat is removed, making it a healthier option. Janet Hung explains, “If you’re lactose intolerant or not a fan of dairy foods, you can always turn to canned fish with bones…One 3.5 oz serving with bones contains two thirds as much calcium as a cup of milk.”

    Tip: When buying canned fish, go for a low-sodium option packed in water when available.

    Canned Stews, Chili and Soups
    Canned stews, chili and soups provide protein in the form of meats and beans, as well as vegetables (the USDA recommends that at least half of your plate be made up of vegetables and fruits). Our partner food pantries and shelters always request these meals-in-a-can because they’re shelf-stable and great for clients who lack access to a kitchen.

    Tip: Look for low sodium versions of canned stews, chili and soups – those options are increasingly out there!

    More information about shelf-stable food safety is available on the USDA website.

    Also check out for healthy canned food recipe ideas and other resources.

    *** Check out our last Nutrition Newbie post about heart health and eating less sodium.

    People Want to Make a Difference

    Special Blog Post By: Jeff Rangel, Brocade

    I believe access to healthy food – just like access to air and water – is pretty basic. Advocating for hunger relief is a cause that resonates with people because everyone understands that without nourishment, you can’t do much else. Food is at the core of everything, particularly for children. If kids aren’t nourished, they aren’t learning, growing, or reaching their full potential. They are not developing healthy habits for adulthood. I support Second Harvest because I know my money and my time will be maximized.

    About 20 years ago, the company I was working for hosted a summer BBQ. As we were enjoying our food, the discussion turned to people who don’t have enough food to eat. We ended up turning the BBQ into an impromptu fundraiser for Second Harvest, and I learned how easy it is to make a difference in the lives of people who are struggling. Since that time, it’s been my professional honor to present opportunities for people to make a difference – by coordinating food drives and other activities – I learned very early on not to underestimate what people can do. Who am I to judge someone else’s ability to help? People want to make a difference.

    As a corporate affairs leader, I believe it is important to set a goal for a food and fund drive – because you have to know where you’re going in order to get there. Food & Fund Drive coordinators communicate the vital issue of hunger relief and the Drive goal to people and ask them to consider doing something about it. Why is everything goal-oriented? I find the goal clarifies the measure of success for the Drive – it gives teams something to rally behind. I also think it’s important to market a Drive. Coordinators can’t just put up one poster or send one email. Consistent visibility and reinforcement is the key – I put posters around every corner, and a reminder in my email signature. I haven’t heard an employee say, “Stop asking me to give.” But I have heard them say, “Why didn’t you ask me to give?”

    For me, fighting hunger is more than holding corporate drives. That’s why my entire family supports Second Harvest. We give and volunteer as a family. In fact, when I became a father, I really began to think about my legacy and the example I wanted to set for my kids. When my twin boys turned 14, they spent their birthday sorting fruit at Second Harvest with several of their friends. They learned not to be careless because that piece of fruit might be all someone has to eat. I could tell that they were proud to bring their friends and expose them to the cause and the impact they can have on others.

    We are blessed, so we have a duty to help, and to get the people in our social and professional networks to help as well. Hunger is a cause that people rally around pretty quickly. I’ve never had had family, friends or professional colleagues disagree that we need to invest in hunger relief.

    ***Inspired to help stop childhood hunger? Check our website in March.

    January Social Media Roundup

    “Social Media Round-Up” is an ‘ICYMI’ compilation of the top hunger-related news articles and other interesting tidbits posted on our social media profiles.

    1/4: My Food Stamp Experience, Mama Knows It All
    A personal post about the importance of programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for people who just need a helping hand.

    1/13: Not all label dates are expiration dates; here’s how to read them. [For other languages, go to]

    1/14: Did you know that we provide food at no cost to more than 300 community-based organizations at 770 sites? Find out more about our network of partner agencies:

    1/16: Poverty Is Literally Making People Sick Because They Can’t Afford Food, The Atlantic
    “[Poorer] people don’t need more care at the end of the month for every kind of condition. Just the ones that get worse when you don’t have enough to eat.”

    1/18: 7 Foods to Buy When You’re Broke, U.S. News & World Report
    Trying to stretch your dollars on nutritious foods at the grocery store? This article has some great suggestions on what to buy.

    1/20: [Monday Inspiration, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day]

    1/23: Hunger in Silicon Valley: Bringing healthy food to poor communities is a challenge (Op-Ed), San Jose Mercury
    How can we provide access to healthy and affordable food to everyone in our community? Leslie Gray, an associate professor at Santa Clara University, puts forward several solutions in this Op-Ed. (Every year, we collaborate with Santa Clara University to put on the Hunger Action Summit.)

    1/24: Q&A session with Hunger Action Summit speakers Kim McCoy Wade, SanDisk’s Sumit Sadana & our CEO Kathy Jackson

    1/26: Fat, Calories, Sugar: Nutrition Labels Getting a Makeover, CNN
    After 20 years, nutrition labels will finally get an update. The FDA hasn’t indicated exactly what will change or when, but there are lots of ideas on how to improve them.

    1/27: The New Face of Food Stamps, The Huffington Post
    “Economists say having a job may no longer be enough for self-sufficiency in today’s economy.”

    1/31: Making recognition plates for our awesome food donors

    Nutrition Newbie: Heart Your Heart

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

    Sodium, Let’s Be Frank - I’m Fading Out on You

    It’s hard not to notice what commercial holiday happens in the month of February. Pink candy hearts, teddy bears hugging red hearts, heart-shaped boxes holding heart-shaped chocolates… In addition to being the month when Valentine’s Day happens, February is also American Heart Month, to raise awareness of heart disease, the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Let’s just say it’s a good time to be a little heart-obsessed.

    When I asked Janet – my go-to nutritionist at Second Harvest – what are some things I can do to have a healthier heart, she immediately talked about avoiding foods high in sodium because they can increase blood pressure. The vast majority of sodium we consume is in processed and restaurant foods.

    Here are some suggestions on how to cut back the sodium:

  • Know Your Limits: Limit your salt intake to 2,300 mg per day (equivalent to a teaspoon of salt!). If you are 51+ years old, African American, or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, you should limit your salt intake to 1,500 mg per day.
  • Mind the Labels: When you’re grocery shopping, look for food options labeled as “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.” As for checking the sodium content on Nutrition Facts labels, try to choose products with 5% Daily Value (DV) or less; 20% DV or more is high. Compare the sodium in foods like bread, soup and frozen meals (I was surprised by the differences) and choose the ones with less sodium.
  • Get More Potassium in Your Diet: Your heart’s BFF, consuming potassium-rich foods can lower your blood pressure. The main sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables. Potatoes, beans, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, and spinach are excellent sources of potassium.
  • Try to Cook More: Cooking from scratch means you’ll know exactly how much salt is going into your dish. Cooking is also a chance to be creative – try substituting spices, herbs, and salt-free blends for salt.
  • Reducing sodium in your diet is actually a topic that’s near and dear to my own heart. I recently got my blood pressure under control and I try to make all of the above part of my routine. What really made a difference for me was being diligent about checking food labels and making informed decisions at the grocery store. It’s such an automatic thing that I do when I go grocery shopping, I can’t even remember when I started doing it. The little actions add up; you just have to start somewhere.

    Our nutritionists access many tools & resources to educate our clients about sodium and other food topics, including the educational materials located here.

    ***ICYMI: Check out our previous Nutrition Newbie post with tips on how to eat healthier.