Two graduation ceremonies were held in March to recognize 28 newly certified Nutrition Ambassadors from around Santa Cruz County; one at Second Harvest’s warehouse in Watsonville and one at the Emerald Bay apartments in Santa Cruz. Each participant completed six weeks of nutrition workshops and is now ready to take on their role as a peer educator, sharing their new knowledge with family, friends and food bank program participants.
These volunteers will be assisting at Food For Children sites, where tastings and nutrition tips are offered along with healthy food, but the lack of facilities often precludes the ability to give a formal presentation. Still, there are activities that can be implemented and these Ambassadors have provided input on the types of classes they would like to have. The focus will be on family oriented physical activities for all ages, such as dance, stretching and yoga.
Classes are scheduled to begin in June with the Nutrition Ambassadors taking on the role of informing and encouraging neighbors to attend. It’s a great way to get involved and be a part of something that brings the community together and creates positive change.
As always, the best part of the graduation ceremony is when people share their stories about how the program is helping them make healthy lifestyle changes. Julio and his wife Silvia went through the workshops together. In the food labeling class, Julio found out just how much sugar was in the five Gansitos (snack cakes) he was eating every day.
Second Harvest’s Nutrition Programs Manager, Teresa Moran, always suggests people start by changing one thing. She encouraged him to cut back, but Julio decided to stop eating them altogether.
During the celebration he said, “I’m not eating any Gansitos at all because I am a Nutrition Ambassador.” His wife, Silvia added, “It takes forever to go to the store now because Julio comes and has to read the labels on everything before we can buy it!”
Another participant, Cherry, has lost five pounds so far by following Teresa’s advice. “I only made one change, I eat a salad before every meal.” This healthy habit takes the edge off her appetite, making portion control during mealtimes a lot easier.
Congratulations to all the Nutrition Ambassadors for their accomplishments and thanks to our incredible Nutrition Programs team for the hard work, heart and soul they put into making our community stronger and healthier.