“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.
Special Blog Post By: Elena Hollander, Community Nutrition Manager
At Second Harvest, we love Halloween! Every year, we have so much fun dressing up for our staff costume contest (skits included), decorating the office, and enjoying our staff Halloween party. However, there’s one thing that we don’t love as much – every November through December, our barrels flood with donated Halloween candy. While we truly appreciate the sentiment of giving, there are so many other great ways and foods to give, so this year we respectfully ask that you please don’t give us candy.
Why are we so tough on the treats? Our mission is to lead our community to ensure that anyone who needs a healthy meal can get one. Our clients have told us they prefer healthy food. When asked “If you had more money, what specific foods would you purchase for you and your family?” the top responses were protein (37%), fruit (25%), and vegetables (21%).
Out of the over 1,200 desired food items, there was just one mention of candy. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are critical health concerns for our clients and we are committed to their desire to live healthy, active lives. We hope you can help by donating some of our most-needed foods instead of candy.
You can also help by making a financial contribution. Second Harvest can turn a one dollar donation into the equivalent of two nutritious meals. Check out our donation options here.
Thank you for helping us keep our clients happy and healthy and have a wonderful Halloween!
“Giving Time” focuses on the invaluable volunteers who donate more than 314,000 hours to Second Harvest each year, more than doubling the size of our staff.
Special Blog Post featuring Yolanda Gutiérrez, as told to Matt Mastrangelo of Second Harvest Food Bank.
I work for a company called QTS, and it has a community impact program where each employee is given 24 hours per year to volunteer within the community, with the charity of their choice. I chose to work with Second Harvest Food Bank because they have programs that work with families and children. I think it’s important that children are fed properly, so that they’ll grow healthy and can go to school and be able to focus on learning.
After a period of time volunteering with my co-workers, I thought maybe this year we could step it up a notch. I reached out to one of Second Harvest’s Regional Program Managers, and said I was thinking about forming some sort of partnership where QTS employees “adopt” one of the sites and come in every month and help out.
Now everybody at QTS knows that the second Tuesday of every month, we go out to our site. We take turns so that everybody has an opportunity to volunteer, and it’s good. It’s good to be involved in the community and I think it makes everybody feel better about themselves, because they’re contributing.
It’s important to volunteer because I live in a community and I want to be able to support it… and that’s the right thing to do.
***To schedule a team building event at Second Harvest, visit SHFB.org/volunteer.
Food is medicine- nutritious food is essential to good health. That is why Second Harvest Food Bank is working with healthcare providers to improve access to the nutritious foods our clients need to lead thriving, productive lives. In partnership with Samaritan House, we officially opened a second Food Pharmacy in San Mateo County in September. Inspired by the first Food Pharmacy collaboration with Sequoia Healthcare District in January 2016, the San Mateo Free Clinic Food Pharmacy is available to low-income patients with diabetes. These two Food Pharmacies are thought to be the first of their kind in California.
At a Food Pharmacy, patients can “fill” prescriptions for free, nutritious food. What’s unique about this concept is that patients have immediate access to healthy foods where they receive their primary healthcare. Second Harvest Food Bank will keep the Food Pharmacies stocked with fresh produce and other healthy foods and provide nutrition education to help patients and their families eat healthier.
Bart Charlow, CEO of Samaritan House, said, “Food truly is good medicine. But access to the right food at the right time is a major hurdle for low-income families. Our Free Clinic partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank delivers that healthy food to fill a family’s needs right at the source of the medical and nutritional services. No waiting – you just walk across the clinic. That is the critical step to address chronic health issues associated with diabetes.”
Patients with diabetes are referred to the Food Pharmacy program by their clinic physician, who provides them with a prescription for food that can be filled at the Food Pharmacy each week, or whenever they need it most. The goal in the first year at each clinic is to serve 100 patients who will be monitored and evaluated by the clinic to determine how well the program helped them keep their diabetes under control.
“The Food Pharmacies will help to address the diet-fueled health disparities that are caused by a lack of access to nutritious food,” said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. “We know from the 2014 Hunger in America study that one-third of our client households include a member with diabetes, that’s three times the national average. Nutritious food is often too expensive and out of reach for the people we serve. That’s why Second Harvest is so focused on nutrition and the connection between hunger and health. We are working to ensure that everyone has access to the nutritious foods they need to thrive.”
You can watch a KTVU segment about the opening on Samaritan House’s page on Facebook.
“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: Donna Duval, Programs & Services Volunteer
How are you helping Second Harvest and our community?
I am helping Second Harvest and our community by volunteering at the Curtner Center in San Jose for almost two years, using my clerical experience. I also pick up trash in my neighborhood while walking my dog.
What inspires you to give your time?
The thing that inspires me to give my time is that I’ve had a great life in my adult years. When I was growing up, my mom raised four kids on her own. Money was always tight. My mom was too proud to ask for help, so we struggled. When I retired from San Jose State University at the end of 2013, I knew that I wanted to give back. I gave myself a year to decide where I wanted to volunteer my time. I decided that a good fit for me would be at Second Harvest Food Bank, helping out in the Program and Services department.
Why should people care about hunger in our community?
The cost of living is so expensive here in the Bay Area. Some people do not have enough money after they have paid their rent to buy food for their family to last throughout the month. If people can’t eat, or feed their children, they could be forced into homelessness or criminal activity.
Why do you support Second Harvest?
I support Second Harvest Food Bank because it has great programs that help a lot of people feed their families. I not only volunteer my time, but I also donate to this organization. I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t believe in their cause.
***Meet more of your neighbors working to end hunger in our community.
UNFI is the leading national distributor of natural and organic foods and the company donates food to Second Harvest Food Bank two times per week. The Food Bank receives an astounding variety of wholesome food, including fresh eggs, milk, yogurt, cereal, snacks, frozen entrees and other assorted food products. This year UNFI’s total food donations are the equivalent of over 400,000 nutritious meals! This unbelievable amount of healthy food goes a long way to help the Food Bank serve more than 1 million meals per week to our community.
A Second Harvest truck awaiting donations at UNFI's loading dock.
Crystal Brennan, General Manager UNFI Gilroy, answered our questions about UNFI and its support of our work to end local hunger.
Please tell us a little bit about UNFI and your recently opened distribution center in Gilroy.
UNFI is a company of pioneers who Move Food Forward. We are the largest organic and natural foods distributor in North America, every day delivering new choices that shape the foodscape. This year, we’re proudly celebrating our 40th anniversary. Our new LEED® Gold designed, state-of-the-art distribution center in Gilroy is 452,000 square feet and can expand to over 800,000 square feet.
What compels UNFI to give back to the community by donating food?
We do what’s right. And, we believe that companies should contribute positively to the community. Be a good neighbor. It’s who are, and part of what makes us so successful at what we do and why we have fun doing it.
Refrigerated product to be donated to the Food Bank.
Why is UNFI taking a stand against hunger?
The people who founded UNFI did so because everyone deserves access to healthy, sustainable food. For 40 years, we’ve lived our mission – bringing more healthy food options to more people. Our scale gives us the ability to positively impact lives and make a difference in Gilroy and in our other 33 communities across the country. And, our associates love being involved in giving back.
Can you speak to the partnership between Second Harvest Food Bank and UNFI and why it’s important to your company?
The relationship with Second Harvest is very important because we believe everyone deserves access to healthier food options. We’re here to connect food to people – and do the right thing.
UNFI staff loading the Second Harvest truck with food donations.
Do you have anything else to add regarding UNFI’s commitment to end local hunger?
UNFI Gilroy is forming a Helping Hands Committee, a group of associates dedicated to creating meaningful change in the community, who will plan volunteer events to work at the local food pantries, shelters, community gardens, and to clean highways and parks. That is how UNFI Gilroy rolls!
Special Blog Post By: Nicole Martinez, Food Connection Field Manager
In 2009, I graduated from college with a degree in nutrition and was dead set on working in clinical nutrition therapy world. Fate had a different plan and I soon realized how important it is for people to not only nourish their body with healthy food, but to have access to it as well.
I started at the Food Bank as a volunteer in the nutrition department and moved my way up to outreach manager on the Food Connection team. My time at the Food Bank led me away from the clinical realm to a desire to work directly with communities encountering economic and health disparities.
I returned to school and received a Master’s in Public Health. My goal was to expand my knowledge in program planning, evaluation, community organizing, and social justice. Since graduating, I look at my work with the Food Bank in a whole new way. I recognize the social and economic injustices community members encounter more often and work to alleviate those social pressures.
In recent years as an outreach manager, I have managed a fantastic group of Food Connection outreach staff who help serve individuals, families, seniors, and other community partners with free food resources. I work with agency partners who serve diverse populations of ethnic groups in different life situations, from homeless individuals to expectant mothers. I train agency partners and community members to identify those in need and provide access to CalFresh and free food resources.
What I enjoy most is knowing that my work helps people get access to healthy food with pride and dignity. I would be disappointed to see someone walk away with food feeling ashamed and that they have failed in some way. I want the people we serve to know that Food Connection is here to provide compassionate service to people from all walks of life.
During my time here at the Food Bank, I have also become involved with the South County Collaborative. With the Collaborative, I volunteer my time and work alongside other service providers to increase the accessibility, quality, and quantity of health services in Gilroy, San Martin, and Morgan Hill. I was voted in as Vice Chair in 2014 and have continued to promote the mission and goals of both Second Harvest Food Bank and the South County Collaborative.
I want to see the community thrive and prosper in good health with the food they need!
***Need help feeding your family or yourself? Food assistance is available. Contact our Food Connection team.