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Second Harvest Community Food Bank Blog


November 25, 2014

Everyone Should Have Access to the Benefits of Healthy Eating

It’s easy to think of food simply in terms of what we enjoy, and to forget that foods serve certain functions in our bodies. We eat food as the source of energy for our body, and need to consider how foods are affecting us in several areas.

When considering healthy eating, it is important to keep in mind several areas that are impacted by the foods that we eat:

Energy: Calories are the unit of measurement when assessing energy in food. We require this energy for every function of our bodies, including not only physical activity, but also for thought, growth and healing. When we decide what to eat, we need to consider not only calories, but the nutrients contained in the calories we eat.

The basic components of energy are stored in proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is a raw energy source that can be used or stored for later use. When choosing carbohydrates, opt for complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables to get a balance of nutrients and calories. Simple carbohydrates are too heavy in calories and light on nutrients.

Weight Management: Healthy eating also helps you maintain your ideal body weight and stave off obesity. When you eat too many saturated fats, trans fats and sugars, your body tends to increase in weight and can eventually develop obesity.

When you eat calories rich in nutrients, your body uses the energy. When you consume empty calories with few nutrients, you will gain weight. Choose foods that balance calories and nutrients to get the fuel your body needs while avoiding weight gain.

Preventing Disease: When you prioritize healthy eating, you may be able to limit your risk for diseases like heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Your food choices can impact your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol that can lead to arterial damage.

The American Cancer Society says that some foods, like alcohol and fried or processed meats can all increase the risk of some types of cancer, like liver and colon cancer. In addition, any food that contributes to obesity increases cancer risk because obesity increases the overall risk for developing cancer.

Mental Health: Healthy eating can help your brain cells keep communicating when you eat foods with antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for keeping neurotransmitters communicating because they prevent toxins from damaging neurons. In other words, make healthy eating a priority to stay sharp.

A healthy diet also helps prevent mental disorders like depression and anxiety. A diet high in sugar, processed food and alcohol can increase the risk of developing mental health problems.

At Second Harvest Community Food Bank, we believe that everyone should have access to the benefits of healthy eating. To help us reach our goal of hunger-free communities, call us to volunteer or donate today.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 11/25/14, 10:00 AM


November 21, 2014

Second Harvest Community Food Bank’s Thanksgiving Meal Distribution

The time of year has arrived when the temperatures are dropping, the leaves are falling, and we all start looking for an excuse to snuggle up for a good nap. Thanksgiving is almost here, and your local food bank is looking for your help in making it a great Thanksgiving day for our members in the area.

On Monday, November 24, Second Harvest will be distributing 1,800 Thanksgiving meal boxes to our members. We are asking community members to spend time at the food bank before and during the distribution to help with this important event.

From 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Second Harvest Building located at 915 Douglas Street, there will be 1,500 Thanksgiving meal boxes distributed to clients in Buchanan and Andrew counties, along with an additional 300 turkeys to be distributed to members in the Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas service area with the assistance of partner agencies.

To make Thanksgiving Meal Distribution Day a success, we need your help. Here are just a few ways to get involved:

Donate specific food items: Each identical food box contains a specific group of items. We are welcoming donations of green beans, jell-o, yams, stuffing, cranberries, chicken broth, pumpkin pie mix and cream of mushroom soup. The donations should be non-perishable.

Short on time? Sponsor a box: Community residents are encouraged to contribute toward a Thanksgiving meal for our members by providing financial donations. Only $10 sponsors a Thanksgiving box for a food insecure family in the St. Joseph area.

Help distribute the boxes: On November 24, volunteers are needed to distribute the boxes. An orderly and streamlined process includes a drive-up assembly line so that members are able to receive their boxes efficiently.

The Thanksgiving Meal Distribution is an exciting event that allows community residents to get involved with the food bank and make a difference fighting hunger in our area. Each member receives a 10- to 12-pound turkey, along with all the fixings to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this important day.

For more information about Thanksgiving Meal Distribution Day, please visit Second Harvest at http://www.ourcommunityfoodbank.org or by calling 816-364-FOOD (3663). Join us in fighting hunger in our community.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 11/21/14, 10:00 AM


November 18, 2014

How Food Insecurity Impacts Children and Learning

Food insecurity is increasingly a problem that lives under the radar. There are many food insecure families and individuals that have to choose between paying the bills and paying for groceries and no one knows their struggle.

In one area, however, food insecurity is making an impact that is becoming easily detectable. A report by Children’s Healthwatch shows that food insecurity is a major factor in the classroom. Students that are experiencing food insecurity are unable to perform at the same level as students that are food secure.

The Problems Caused by Food Insecurity

The report finds that even by kindergarten, the damage is already done. Food insecure children entering kindergarten start out cognitively, emotionally and physically behind their food secure counterparts.

A study of school-aged children found that anemia during infancy as a result of being food insecure had an impact ten years later. These students were found to have impaired memory and social function when compared to children that were food secure.

The impact of food insecurity doesn’t stop there. Food insecurity also leads to a multiplication of health problems among children, with more stomachaches, headaches and colds when compared with food secure children. Food insecure children also have a higher rate of hospitalization compared to food secure children.

Helping Children Get Access to Quality Food

The initiative by the Obama administration to increase access to public preschool is a significant step to promote food security among young children. Through preschool, these children have an opportunity to receive high quality nutrition during the school day. In addition, preschool helps address any cognitive and social gaps that are already emerging in a child and allows for an intervention.

Federal assistance through the provision of food items also helps fight against the impact that food insecurity has on young learners. Through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food stamps, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), families can put nutritious food on the table and promote healthy eating habits from birth.

The Long-Term Impact

Without these important interventions, children will experience the long-lasting impact of food insecurity. Academic performance affected by developmental, cognitive, social and physical delays will also influence economic outcomes for these students.

What Can You do to Help?

Second Harvest Community Food Bank provides various opportunities for local volunteers to get involved. One important way that we support our members is through food pantries conveniently located in many local school buildings.

Second Harvest also helps to cover the hours that children are not in school by providing a healthy breakfast, a healthy lunch and a healthy snack during the weekends throughout the school year. At Kate’s Café, students can receive a hot, healthy meal after school. The Café serves up to 25 students each school day.

To get involved with one of these programs and help fight food insecurity in our area, contact Second Harvest and we will help you get connected with the right role for you. We have a variety of hours and days available for you.


Posted by Gayle Stowers - 11/18/14, 10:00 AM


November 14, 2014

Hunger in America: It May Look Different Than You Would Expect

How do you know if your neighbor had a good breakfast this morning?

This question was posed by a food bank manager in Iowa to highlight the way that the face of hunger in America is changing. Hunger no longer looks like images from 50 years ago. Hungry families are no longer always distinguishable from those that are full and satisfied in outward appearance.

The way hunger in America is discussed is being changed, too. In fact, it is no longer referred to as hunger, but as food insecure, as a way to more fully encompass the challenge of balancing paying the bills and keeping food on the table. A family or individual that is food insecure is one that was unable to acquire the food they needed at some point during the past year.

Here are a few facts about the food insecure that may surprise you:

They Don’t Always Look Hungry
You could be taken aback when you hear that a family you know receives assistance in the form of food stamps or that they make a trip to the local food bank because they don’t appear to be under-nourished. However, because of the non-perishable items stocked at food banks, these families are often eating non-nutritious food packed with salt and sugar, but lacking any nutritional value. The family may only consume fresh produce immediately after they have used food stamps to purchase them. Obesity and hunger often now go hand-in-hand.

They Appear to be Just Like You
By shopping at thrift stores, many food insecure families are able to purchase nice clothing and household items and maintain the appearance of a middle class lifestyle. In addition, because urban living is becoming more expensive, the food insecure may require a reliable car to live in the suburbs. These items can make it easy for others to assume that food insecurity is not a problem.

They are Working
You may have heard that food stamps and food banks are generally used by the unemployed, but two-thirds of the food insecure with children have at least one adult working full-time. The problem is that the wages are not enough to pay the bills and also purchase food. Many families are even forced to choose between paying for medication and buying food.

They are Choosing Between Convenience and Economy, Just Like You
In food insecure households, convenient food is often chosen in favor of a more economical or healthy alternative. However, this is not just the food secure, but all of us. Preparing healthy food takes time and effort, and in some cases the food insecure may be struggling with a heavy workload or the need to be away from a place where it is possible to cook.

The face of hunger in America is changing. Your neighbor, who looks well-fed, drives a nice car and wears beautiful clothing may not have had a good breakfast this morning. To find out more about how to help your food insecure neighbors, visit us at Second Harvest Community Food Bank today.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 11/14/14, 10:00 AM


November 11, 2014

The Role of Food Pantries in the Classroom

A teacher looking out over the classroom may see a variety of behaviors in his or her classroom each morning. Some students may arrive energized and ready to learn, and others may come into the classroom sleepy or sluggish. Tired or sluggish students may have difficulty when it is time to learn a new lesson, and quickly fall behind other students. Food pantries play an important role in turning a sluggish student into an energized and ready to learn student.

What seems like an academic process is also a neurological one. Connections are happening in the brain when a student learns, and those connections rely heavily on the nutrients that come from healthy foods. Food pantries that provide healthy foods to food insecure students are helping them not only have healthy bodies, but healthy minds that can achieve in school.

Many experts believe that the internal environment of a student’s brain is just as important as the environment around them. Some students may have challenges directly connected to the poor nutrition or inadequate hydration that they receive. In some cases, the student has become adapted to the conditions over time, not realizing that their chronic tiredness is not normal.

The path of a new idea or concept and how it turns into a memory requires the electrical impulses that occur between areas of the brain. These connections occur between neurotransmitters, or messenger chemicals. These messengers work to transfer information from one cell to the next. This communication is the way that learning occurs, connecting cells to transmit information about verbal, emotional, visual and other types of cues.

One of the ways that food promotes learning is through the protection of these neurotransmitters. When environmental toxins make their way through the body, toxic by-products can cause damage to neurotransmitters. When a student consumes antioxidants in nutritious food, these act as a first line of defense against the toxins.

Here are a few things to feed the brain to make learning successful:

Good fats: Experts are now encouraging the consumption of good fats, but trans fats and saturated fats can be a problem for a healthy brain. They can negatively affect the synapses between neurotransmitters and can impact long-term learning potential.

Protein: Protein is the source for amino acids, which are the building blocks that form the basis of neurotransmitters. Amino acids also can be reorganized into antioxidants, providing protection for neurotransmitters. When it comes to protein, however, the preparation is important (consider fried chicken versus baked chicken, for instance.)

Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates are an important contributor of energy to the brain. The lightning-fast neurological activity requires energy, but it is important that the energy be long-lived and not just a quick hit from a simple carbohydrate like sugar or white bread. Whole grains and fruits and vegetables are good sources of carbohydrates.

One important role that Second Harvest Community Food Bank fills is providing our members with healthy foods that promote learning and achievement on location in their own schools. For more information about how food pantries impact learning in our community, contact us today.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 11/11/14, 10:00 AM


November 07, 2014

Hunger in Missouri Underscores the Importance of Food Banks

Knowing how you can help your local food banks is the first step in putting a stop to the growing hunger problem in our area.


Posted by Gayle Stowers - 11/07/14, 10:00 AM


November 03, 2014

Do You Know How Food Insecurity Impacts Children in Your Community?

Food insecurity in Missouri is a growing problem. Do you know who is suffering the most and how you can help?


Posted by Gayle Stowers - 11/03/14, 10:00 AM

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