The mission of Pajaro Valley Shelter Services is to assist homeless women, children and families in obtaining stable housing through temporary shelter and services. Since 1983, they have helped more than 5,000 homeless people move from homelessness and crisis to permanent housing and self-sufficiency. They are part of Second Harvest’s network of over 200 agencies and programs that feed people in Santa Cruz County.
The shelter was trying to get by with an old freezer that wasn’t working well. With an infrastructure grant from Second Harvest, they were able to buy a new freezer and two refrigerators, allowing them to accommodate more families. The grant was one of sixteen presented to member agencies since 2011 for the purpose of increasing their capacity to safely and efficiently distribute fresh healthy food to people in need.
Pajaro Valley Shelter Services has two facilities: a dormitory style residence for single women and women with children, and 15 transitional housing units for homeless families. Case management and access to services—legal, immigration, job training, employment, health, social services and general assistance—are all aimed at getting people get back on their feet.
Carmen shows off new refrigerator
The shelter is quiet during the day when residents are either at work, looking for work, or taking classes. Everyone helps with the cooking and chores. Carmen, who has worked for 13 years at the shelter, runs the household. She says the new refrigerators are enabling them to serve more families. “The nutrition education Second Harvest provides is helping people understand the importance of eating healthy,” says Carmen. “We have received really good feedback on how much better they feel.”
Doña Patty Rosales has been volunteering with Second Harvest Food Bank since 2001. While job searching, she remembers walking into the food bank to seek employment and she was told that the food bank wasn’t hiring but was in need of volunteers. Thus began a beautiful and long lasting relationship. Doña Patty volunteers between 2-3 days per week depending on our needs. When volunteering in the sort room, you can find her bar coding product, packing mixed produce bags, packing food drive donations, and sorting and packing salvaged items. Doña Patty likes volunteering at the food bank because she enjoys helping others and she likes to keep herself busy. There are times when she will bring homemade tamales and menudo to share with the rest of the volunteers and staff. Doña Patty is a hard worker and a mother of 5 children (2 boys and 3 girls). She is thankful for being able to take some food home to share with her family.
Doña Patty Rosales ha sido voluntaria en el banco de comida desde el 2001. Mientras Doña Patty estaba en búsqueda de empleo ella recuerda entrar al banco de comida y preguntar si estaban contratando personal, le dijeron que solamente estaban en necesidad de voluntarios. Es cuando empezó una larga y hermosa relación con el banco de comida. Doña Patty viene 2-3 veces por semana dependiendo de nuestras necesidades. Cuando Doña Patty viene de voluntaria por lo regular ella se encuentra haciendo esta tipo de trabajo, empacando frutas y vegetales, separando y organizando productos enlatados y poniendo códigos en los productos. A Doña Patty le da placer de venir de voluntaria al Banco de Comida porque le gusta ayudar y mantenerse ocupada. En ocasiones le gusta traer tamales o menudo hecho en casa para compartir con los demás voluntarios y con los empleados del banco de comida. Doña Patty es una excelente mujer y madre de 5 (2 varones y 3 mujeres); ella esta agradecida de poder llevar comida a su casa para compartirla con su familia.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, we wanted to share the stories of these mother daughter teams. As volunteers with Second Harvest’s Passion For Produce program, not only are they making their families healthier, they’re helping to build a strong community.
Cristina and Kimberly
Cristina and Kimberly
Cristina has been a Nutrition Ambassador at Starlight Elementary School in Watsonville for close to three years. Her daughter Kimberly used to attend the presentations with her and now she has completed the training as well. This dynamic mother and daughter team really enjoy working together to help their community.
They volunteer at food distributions twice each month, helping distribute food and answering questions. They also give nutrition demonstrations using the curriculum provided by Second Harvest’s Nutrition Programs team. Each month focuses on a different topic and includes a healthy recipe. They are also responsible for letting people know about upcoming presentations and they must be doing a good job because there are often 80 people at the presentations.
Cristina and Kimberly say Passion For Produce helps families by providing a place for people share to their stories and learn in the company of their friends and neighbors. “The most important thing is for people to change their eating habits,” says Cristina.
Kimberly adds that her mom has been volunteering in the community for as long as she can remember. “She has always been involved at school and she also volunteered at Defense Mujeres. What a great example this mom is providing for her children. Little sisters Natasha and Jeannie, five and seven, are already attending Passion For Produce distributions and say they like to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Herminia and Jennifer
Herminia and Jennifer
Herminia became a Nutrition Ambassador about a year ago. The healthy food and nutrition education she receives from Second Harvest through Passion For Produce is having a big impact on her family’s health. Everything helped me because I was able to help my daughter,” says Herminia. “The doctor had told us she was going to get diabetes if she didn’t lose weight.”
Herminia has lost several pounds and thirteen-year old Jennifer lost 53 pounds in one year. Some of the tips Herminia picked up include using olive oil instead of corn oil, drinking non-fat milk and lots of water, and serving fresh cut up fruit and vegetables at meals. The whole family is more active and feeling better than ever.
Herminia and Jennifer enjoy working at the food distributions because they both like to help people in their community. They have enjoyed doing yoga with Eva Holt-Rusmore, a Nutrition Programs Coordinator at Second Harvest and are looking forward to an upcoming Zumba class. “The people at Second Harvest are why we come,” says Herminia. “They know how to treat us. They are very nice.”
Sandra became a Nutrition Ambassador over a year ago when she saw that that they needed helpers at the food distributions. The most important things she says she learned during the workshops were how to read food labels, use less sugar, watch portion sizes and prepare more fresh food. The food tastings encouraged her to try different kinds of vegetables.
Sandra’s daughter Ruth is sixteen and the oldest of four children. Despite her busy school schedule, Ruth is happy to make time to help at distributions where she cuts fruit for tastings and helps distribute salads. Ruth shares her love for healthy food when she tutors kids in their apartment complex in Math and English. She provides healthy snacks and art activities to make the sessions more fun. Little sister Abigail, although she is only four, gets really excited when Second Harvest arrives and always wants to help.
Since participating in a Zumba class with Adora DaCosta-Muniz, an AmeriCorps Volunteer at Second Harvest, Sandra has purchased her own tapes so she can exercise on her own, now that she has found something she really enjoys.
When asked why she became a Nutrition Ambassador, Sandra has this to say. “I see the faces of the people when they get the food and they are so grateful. I like to see the smiles on their faces. We are very thankful for the food bank. Vegetables are very expensive at the store and we get the healthy food we wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.”
“I think it’s good that the food bank is here,” confirms Ruth.
The second annual CalFresh Forum, an inter-agency collaboration helping community-based organizations work together to increase local participation in CalFresh, took place on Monday, May 6th. Over fifty people attended the event, organized by Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County in partnership with the Central Coast Hunger Coalition, Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey, Familia Center and Champions for Change.
The team that made this great event a reality!
CalFresh makes a huge difference in the nutrition and economic well-being of low-income households. Yet, California has the lowest participation rate in the nation. In Santa Cruz County, less than half of those eligible receive the benefit. We rank 45th out of 58 counties statewide.
The shared goal of Second Harvest Food Bank and Santa Cruz County Human Services Department is to end local hunger through increased access and participation in the CalFresh Program, which in turn helps the local economy. Annually, our County is losing $47 million dollars in federal CalFresh benefits, which would generate approximately $87 million dollars in local economic activity.
In Santa Cruz County, hundreds of advocates, eligibility workers, outreach workers, and county employees work to increase access to and enrollment in the CalFresh program. This video was made to encourage them in that work and let them know that it is appreciated.
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors declared May 2013 CalFresh Awareness Month. Michael DeLaRosa, Human Services Dept. Santa Cruz County reminded the audience, “CalFresh is the first line of defense against hunger in our community.” He then reviewed the County’s awareness campaign, which includes advertising on buses and local radio stations. Information on eligibility requirements is also being distributed through schools and grocery stores.
Joel Campos, Senior Mgr., Outreach & Education, Second Harvest, Yolanda Henry, Familia Center Director; Michael DeLaRosa, Human Services Dept., Santa Cruz County
The hard work of advocates over the past ten years has made it much easier for eligible people to receive benefits. You can now apply by phone, mail/fax applications, or online. Barriers such as the finger-imaging requirement have been eliminated. Yolanda Henry, Director of the Familia Center, received the CalFresh Champion Award for her devotion to the cause. “People who have never had to visit a food pantry before are finding themselves needing help and having to push beyond their fear,” said Henry upon receiving the award. “We have the opportunity to help them with CalFresh.”
Keynote speaker George Manalo-LeClair, Executive Director, California Food Policy Advocates, talked about the ability of CalFresh to lift people above the poverty line. “People think the benefits are not enough to make a difference,” said Manolo-LeClair. “This is a misconception. The money people save by receiving CalFresh can be used to pay other expenses, reducing the stress and health problems that develop when people have to choose between paying bills or buying food.” All community based organizations have the opportunity to increase CalFresh utilization simply by explaining the program to clients.
Joel Campos, Willy Elliott-McCrea, Chief Executive Officer, Second Harvest, George Manolo-LeClair, Executive Director, California Food Policy Advocates
Attendees were able to choose from various workshops led by CalFresh outreach advocates and experts. Other speakers at the event included Twin Lakes Church Pastor Rene Schlaepfer and Willy Elliott-McCrea, Executive Director of Second Harvest.
Stephanie Haffner, Senior Litigator, Western Center for Law and Poverty
Teen Challenge Monterey Bay catered a delicious lunch
Thanks to everyone who participated in the event and everyone who worked so hard behind the scenes to make it a success.
Norma Sosa has been volunteering with Second Harvest Food Bank for the past two years and has been helping in our sort room. Norma volunteers between 3-5 days per week, which also includes our Saturday sorts that are held twice per month. Norma also helped recruit both of her sons: Edwin, who helps out at least three days per week in the sort room, and Juan, who helps out with our Saturday sorts.
When volunteering in the sort room, you can find Norma assisting Ignacio with placing the volunteers on the assembly line, bar coding product, packing mixed produce bags, packing food drive donations, as well as sorting and packing salvaged items.
Norma likes to keep herself busy and enjoys helping others as well. There are times when Norma will bring in a healthy homemade treat to share with rest of the volunteers. She’ll make tuna with mixed vegetables, soups or cactus with mixed veggies. Norma is a take charge person with a can do attitude and we are excited to have her as a volunteer!
Norma Sosa ha sido voluntaria en el Banco de Comida durante los últimos dos años y ha estado ayudando en el cuarto donde sorteamos la comida. Norma es voluntaria entre 3-5 días por semana, lo que también incluye que ayuda en los Sábado, esto ocurre dos veces al mes. Norma también ayudó a reclutar a sus dos hijos Edwin, que ayuda a lo menos tre días por semana en el cuarto donde sorteamos la comida y Juan ayuda con los sábados.
Siendo voluntario en el cuarto donde sorteamos la comida, se puede encontrar a Norma asistiendo Ignacio con la colocación de los voluntarios en la línea de trabajo, aplicando códigos de barras al producto, empacando bolsas de frutas y verduras mixtas, empacando colectas de alimentos, organizando, y empacando objetos recuperados.
A Norma le gusta mantenerse ocupada y también le gusta ayudar a los demás. Hay momentos en que Norma trae comida saludable de su casa para compartir con el resto de los voluntarios; ella hace atún con diferentes verduras, sopas, nopales y verduras. ¡Norma toma en control con una actitud de que si se puede lograr. Estamos muy emocionados de tenerla como voluntaria!
The students in the Interact Club at Pajaro Valley High School have worked closely with Second Harvest on a number of activities: the annual barrel wrap, grocery store food drives, and volunteering at the Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and Kitchen in Watsonville. Recently they had the idea to hold a coin drive to raise meals for Second Harvest.
For the drive, Interact club members gave each tutorial (study hall) a donation box. They presented to the students, informing them of the need in our community and how much Second Harvest helps. They asked each tutorial to collect as much money as they could from March 25-29th. At the end of the week, they collected the bins and counted it all up. The tutorials that raised the most money earned double lunch for a week.
“Pajaro Valley High blew our expectations away,” said Felicia Davidson, President of the Interact Club. “We raised over $438!! That equals 1,752 meals for those who need them in our community. I am very proud and grateful to everyone that donated and helped out.”
This is a great example of how students can work together to make a big difference in our community. It was successful because the Interact club took the time to explain why they were raising money and how it would help people in the community that do not have enough to eat. Nice work!
Several representatives from Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County were in Sacramento for the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) events the week of April 22nd.
Joel Campos, Sr. Mgr., Outreach & Advocacy, Second Harvest; Bob Cadwalader, Second Harvest Volunteer; Assemblymember Luis Alejo; Mary Ann Hughes, E.D., Community Food Bank of San Benito County; John de los Angeles, Aide to Asseblymember Alejo
Second Harvest volunteer Bob Cadwalader attended CAFB Legislation Day along with Joel Campos, Senior Manager, Outreach & Education at Second Harvest. The following is his blog entry.
CAFB Legislation Day April 24, 2013 is History
Second Harvest Food Bank, represented by Joel Campos and Bob Cadwalader, made its presence known to our two Assemblymen, Mark Stone and Luis Alejo and Senator Bill Monning. We were enthusiastically received as we asked for support for five bills and our overarching strategy, which was freely given. If we had this kind of support throughout the Assembly and Senate, California would be transformed.
The bills we support are:
• SB116: Permanently Extend the Emergency Food for Families Fund
• AB191: Food for Health – Aligning MediCal and Nutrition Assistance
• SB134: No Hunger for Heroes
• SB283: Access to Nutrition Assistance to Support Successful Reentry
• SB672: Working Families Anti-Hunger Act
We also supported the funding of the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the rebuilding and reinvestment in California’s safety net. A profitable day for all, our lobbyists gave good reports and our governmental representatives were encouraged to pursue these bills and programs.
CAFB 2013 Conference—Ending Hunger in California: Many Voices One Vision
Willy Elliott-McCrea, CEO of Second Harvest, was a presenter at this year’s conference. The workshop he participated in was called “Reaching In or Reaching Out? Empowering the Community to Reach Into Your Food Bank,” which examined how different food banks in California have adopted community involvement strategies that allow the community to move forward from hunger into health.
Using our own Nutrition Ambassador program as an example, Willy said, “A key component in moving towards self-sufficiency is that sense of empowerment and being able to help others. We try to give our families a chance to be givers as well as receivers, blurring the lines between volunteers and clients and reducing the sense of dependency.
Our Nutrition Programs create an environment where everyone can learn from each other’s knowledge and experiences. Participants share lessons learned and their new commitment to good nutrition and healthy living.
Together, our Nutrition Ambassadors, clients, volunteers, program partners, agencies and staff are creating a healthier future for our community.”
Every March, Curves holds a food drive for local food banks. This year, the Aptos Curves location raised 3939 meals for Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County. They did it by distributing reusable bags to all current Curves members, asking them to fill the bags with non-perishable food or donate a minimum of $30. They gave out 75 bags and followed up with phone calls. They also distributed over 500 flyers and posters to local businesses and had an in-club drawing for members that contributed to the food drive.
Steve Bennett, Development Director, Second Harvest, Janna Malizia, Owner, Aptos Curves and team
Members also gave bags to neighbors and friends. The promotion was advertised in local publications and a collection barrel with balloons was placed in front of the Curves facility on Soquel Drive so that it could be seen as people passed by. Several neighbors and moms walking their children to Mar Vista dropped off food throughout the drive.
All their efforts to engage the community paid off. “I don’t think there’s a person that doesn’t want to reach out to the community,” said Janna Malizia, Owner of the Aptos Curves. “We know the food banks are depleted and feel privileged to be able to help,” she added. “The members love it.”
Thanks to Curves for continuing this food drive every year. Your members are making a difference!
The World’s Biggest Garage Sale is an annual event held by Twin Lakes Church to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. This year’s sale takes place on Saturday, May 4th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
There are two ways you can help.
1. DONATE ITEMS
They are looking for clothing (in excellent condition), furniture, housewares, working appliances, gardening tools, linens, bedding, books, DVDs, CDs, flat screen TVs, seasonal and decorative times, artwork, collectibles, jewelry, sporting goods, and other wonderful things in sellable condition.
You can drop off items at the Bus Barn behind the main church buildings at the following times:
Saturday, April 27, 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 28, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Monday, April 29 through Thursday, May 2, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Friday, May 3, furniture and large items only on approval
2. SHOP ON SATURDAY, MAY 4th
Great items and treasures at great prices.
Twin Lakes Church, 2701 Cabrillo College Drive in Aptos, 8:00 am to 2:00 pm
For more information, contact Gwenda Banker at 831-763-3730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From May through August, Second Harvest Food Bank will collaborate with Feeding America and food banks across the nation for Hunger in America 2014, the only comprehensive study of charitable food assistance in the United States.
Second Harvest representatives will travel to 60 agencies, pantries, soup kitchens, and programs to conduct surveys with food recipients. The information gathered will help us understand and address the needs of the community we serve. Combined with the data from other food banks, the study will a powerful tool to increase awareness about hunger and will play a major role in national food assistance advocacy efforts.
Volunteers are needed to recruit clients and answer their questions. The surveys are completed in private on tablet computers. If you would like to join us, please come to a 90 minute training here at the food bank on Friday April 26th.
We need people available at different times—in differing amounts of time—throughout the course of the study. Whether you can commit to one afternoon a month or several days a week; whether you’re willing to drive all over the county or you can only get to sites within a short bike ride from your house; whatever your situation, we’ll match you up with sites and times that work for you.
If you are interested, or if you have any questions at all, please contact Jordan.
Edible Monterey Bay, a quarterly magazine celebrating the local food and wine of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties, announced their 2013 Local Hero Award winners in the Spring issue. These awards are presented by Edible magazines across the country as a way to recognize local food producers and purveyors for their exceptional contributions to their communities. The winners are determined by readers through an online vote.
Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County and the Santa Cruz Homeless Garden Project tied in voting for best nonprofit. Upon hearing of the award, Second Harvest CEO Willy Elliott-McCrea commented, “Cheap food and lack of access to fresh produce is what’s driving hunger and obesity here on the Central Coast. If we want to have a healthy and vibrant community, we have to have healthy food.”
Last year, 62.3% of all the food distributed by Second Harvest was fresh produce—the highest percentage in the nation. In addition, through our Nutrition Ambassador program, we have trained a countywide network of volunteers to help educate their peers about the relationship between good eating and good health.
Everyone at Second Harvest would like to thank the readers of Edible Monterey Bay for acknowledging our work with this award.
Deluxe Foods of Aptos presented Second Harvest with a check for $3,895.08, which includes customer donations from November through March. We can provide four meals for every $1 donated, so those contributions will provide 15,580 meals.
Steve Bennett, Development Director, Second Harvest with Store Manager, George Sierra
According to Store Manager, George Sierra, who has been with the store for 23 years, they have always done a holiday drive but lately their customers have been suggesting the store collect donations all year long. They’ll continue their traditional promotional activities during the holiday season, while keeping Second Harvest donation containers at checkout stands as well as a button on their cash registers so that customers can add a small contribution to their grocery total anytime they want.
“Everybody is concerned about people not having enough to eat and it touched our customers’ hearts as well as ours,” explained Sierra. “So we decided to continue this throughout the year based on our customers’ feedback.”