The 6th Annual Nutrition Summit at Twin Lakes Church on October 17th provided an opportunity for representatives from Second Harvest’s 200 member agencies and programs to share ideas and best practices related to food distribution and nutrition education.
The focus this year was on building stronger communities by distributing fresh produce, educating clients on the health benefits of eating fresh food, and teaching clients to prepare meals using the seasonal fresh produce grown in our area.
Willy Elliott-McCrea, Chief Executive Officer of Second Harvest Food Bank welcomed the attendees and discussed how cheap processed food continues to be a major cause of obesity and related diseases as well as health care costs that are the result of poor nutrition.
In the opening address, Pastor Rene Schlaepfer of Twin Lakes Church, stressed the importance of working together to make an impact. He helped get the day off to a positive start by sharing inspiring stories about how people can make a difference.
During the morning, attendees had their choice of several interactive workshops, ranging from food safety and pantry management best practices to fitness and healthy cooking tips. After the morning sessions, a healthy lunch was served and attendees had a chance to network and talk about what they had learned.
Lunch was followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Sister Susan Olson, from Pajaro Valley Shelter Services. The panel featured Dave Francis of Inner Light Pantry, Denise Acosta from Salvation Army, Santa Cruz, Pastor Gary Ball from the Church of the Nazarene Pantry and Pastor Steven Moran from Pan de Vida. Each member of the panel discussed the challenges they faced when they began distributing larger quantities of fresh produce; how they were able to work through it; and how much their clients now appreciate it.
The panel members said that improvements made by Second Harvest such as online ordering and the elimination of delivery fees is allowing them to feed more people. Pastor Gary Ball mentioned that Second Harvest’s Passion For Produce program, with its farmers’ market style of distribution, provides an atmosphere of dignity for people who need food. “Passion For Produce is an incredible program,” Ball enthused. “It gives people a chance to sample unfamiliar vegetables and shows them how to prepare the produce being distributed.”
The panel discussion provided a perfect lead-in to the presentation of the 2011 Food Donor of the Year award to Field Fresh Farms of Watsonville, It is, after all, area growers such as Field Fresh Farms that provide us with the produce. Field Fresh has been a generous donor to Second Harvest for several years, donating over 60,000 pounds of fresh produce on average. In 2010-11, their annual donations exceeded 100,000 pounds.
The presentation included proclamations from elected officials. Anthony Cagnacci of Field Fresh Farms said they were honored to receive the award as a local business that wants to help the community.
Wrapping up the Summit, Second Harvest Intern, Jordan Zell gave a presentation on the 2011 Paper Plates Campaign that was done to advocate for the signing of bills to improve food security and support for lower-income seniors and working families.
All-in-all, it was a very informative day that gave Second Harvest agency members a chance to network and share ideas. These agencies and programs utilize 3,000 volunteers to help distribute food to 55,000 people in need throughout Santa Cruz County every month.
Thank you to everyone for your commitment and hard work on behalf of our community.
Thank you to all our presenters and panelists. Special thanks to Twin Lakes Church for hosting this event.