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.