We’re pleased to announce the certification of sixteen Nutrition Ambassadors through Second Harvest’s Passion For Produce program.
Five Nutrition Ambassadors were certified at Mountain Community Resources, a local family resource center that has been in the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley communities since 1992.
At Elizabeth Oaks, a low-income apartment complex in the Live Oak area, eleven Nutrition Ambassadors were certified.
The Nutrition Ambassador program empowers community members to manage food distributions, perform cooking demonstrations and tastings, and present nutrition information at food distribution sites. The program supports our mission to end hunger and malnutrition in Santa Cruz County through a network of committed volunteers that reach out to neighbors in their communities. It provides an opportunity for clients to make a contribution and strengthens the community by bringing people together around a common goal—better health.
Each Ambassador is required to attend a series of six one-hour workshops presented by our Nutrition Programs group. The workshops cover such varied topics as how to read food labels, easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in meals, and how to prepare healthy lower fat variations of favorite dishes. The program also includes a physical activity component.
At the celebration, several Second Harvest staff members shared a healthy meal with the graduates. Everyone who completed the program received a certificate and gift basket containing recipes, kitchen items and a Passion For Produce t-shirt.
Second Harvest’s Nutrition Programs Manager, Teresa Moran, discusses the program. “Our goal is to teach as many people as we can how to improve their health by eating right and exercising. We couldn’t reach as many people as we do without the help of volunteers.”
“We often begin a relationship with an agency, church or pantry by signing them up to serve as a distribution site through our Food For Children program,” Teresa explains. “Once the distribution is up and running, we get to know the clients and can determine whether or not there are enough people interested in becoming Nutrition Ambassadors to begin a training and certification as a Passion For Produce site.”
“It works really well because the people who volunteer know their communities and are eager to reach out to help others,” adds Teresa. “Some of the people at Mountain Community Resources were looking for work and feeling discouraged by the daily job search. The program makes them feel better about themselves during a difficult time, which in turn helps them project more self-assurance when talking to potential employers.
When you provide people with an opportunity to do something positive, it helps everyone. One client told Teresa that the program makes her feel like she belongs somewhere. These Nutrition Ambassadors will have an important role in making their communities stronger.
Congratulations and thank you to everyone that has made it possible for us to train more than 150 Nutrition Ambassadors since the program’s inception in 2009.