National Agriculture Day

“Health Grows Here” was the theme for this year’s National Agriculture Day Spring Luncheon on March 21st at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. This annual event, organized by the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau and Agri-Culture, is a celebration of the area’s farming legacy and the abundance of healthy foods grown here on the Central Coast.

Willy Elliott-McCrea, CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank

Guest speaker, Second Harvest CEO, Willy Elliott-McCrea, talked about the importance of teaching people to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods in order to maintain good health.

“The rate of obesity and diabetes has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 in the last 30 years,” he explained. “You can now buy 2000 calories in a 2-liter bottle of soda for 69 cents. In 2011, healthcare costs in America, driven by nutrition-related disease, set a record $2.6Trillion. Everyone is paying the price as these costs continue to skyrocket.”

Willy encouraged everyone in the room to work together to ensure that all children have access to healthy food so they can thrive and become successful contributing members of their communities.

That’s what our Passion For Produce and other nutrition programs are all about. Second Harvest has trained 200 Nutrition Ambassadors to manage nutrition workshops and produce distributions at 20 sites throughout Santa Cruz County. This volunteer program empowers people with the education and tools to help themselves and their communities be healthier.

Two thirds of all the food we distribute, five million pounds a year, is farm-fresh fruits and vegetables from our partners in agriculture. Our strategy for staying healthy is a simple back-to-basics approach based on the following:

  1. Drink water and milk, not soda
  2. Fill half your plate with fruits & vegetables
  3. Eat more lean proteins and whole grains
  4. Take a walk every day and save sweets for special occasions
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