A Shared Passion For Produce

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

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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

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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 and Ruth

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Maritza (neighbor), Jousue (7), Laura (16), Hannah (11), Sandra & Abigail (4)

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.

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