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December 19, 2014

Healthy Eating With Your Local Food Bank

When shopping at a local food bank pantry, it can be challenging to refine your cooking and eating habits to adjust to the foods available at the pantry. You may find yourself at the food pantry, wondering how to choose the best foods to feed your family and what recipes you could use. Healthy eating may seem out of reach, but with some guidance, you can fuel your body to be strong and resilient.

There are ways to maximize the benefits of using the food bank to promote healthy eating in your household. Here are some ideas to help you get the most nutritional value from your day of shopping at the food bank:

  1. Consider alternate sources of protein. It’s easy to concentrate on using meat as a main protein dish, but there are many ways to get protein into your diet. Cook scrambled eggs or top a salad with an egg. Use beans as a low-cost way to pack some extra protein into your diet. Use meat as an added ingredient, instead of the main focus of the meal. Dishes like stir-fries and pastas are great ways to implement meat without requiring a large amount.
  2. Ask about logistics at your food bank. Start asking a few questions when you visit your food pantry. Find out when they receive produce from grocery stores that donate, and ask when the best time is to purchase whole-grain bread. If you can time your visits to the food pantry with these fresh food deliveries, you will be able to promote healthy eating at home.
  3. Think soup. Nearly any combination of canned and fresh vegetables can make a delicious soup and is full of good nutrition. Soup is also a great way to avoid wasting leftovers, since you can toss any leftover veggies and protein into a soup. Even old bread can be made into tasty croutons.
  4. If you don’t know how to cook, ask for help. Ask a willing friend or relative to give you some tips. Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know how to do it, because everyone who cooks had to be taught, too. With a few basic skills like sautéing, boiling and baking, you can make many meals.
  5. Get creative with seasonings. In many other cultures, people use strong spices to dress up a less-than-ideal food. If your meat is tough, for instance, try a robust flavor to take the focus off the texture. With food bank shopping you may be challenged to use foods that you have never tried or that are not family favorites. With a few spices, though, you may find them enjoyable.

At Second Harvest Community Food Bank, healthy eating is getting a boost from Atcha Rich. Rich is a longtime Second Harvest member. Despite health issues and using the services of Second Harvest, Rich has found a unique way to help her neighbors. She has come up with healthy recipes using the ingredients found at the Fresh Start, Second Harvest’s on-site pantry.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 12/19/14, 10:00 AM

 

December 16, 2014

Support Food Banks With an Office Food Drive

The holidays are a popular time to get in the spirit of giving with a food drive to support local food banks. Your office may be a perfect environment for setting up a food drive to help local food banks, but also to raise awareness about food insecurity in your workplace.

There are many ways to ensure you have a successful food drive at your workplace, but here are a few tips to get things rolling:

  1. Have a plan in place. Give yourself a few weeks to get your food drive planned. Invite colleagues to be part of a committee, and make sure that you ask for their support. That will help you and your co-workers time to plan your food drive successfully in the midst of all of your other holiday engagements and responsibilities.
  2. Get the word out. If your company is sizable, make posters and flyers to advertise an upcoming food drive to support local food banks. If you work for a smaller employer, go personally to each employee and ask them to support the food drive.
  3. Keep in touch with your local food bank. Many food banks have specific guidelines that you need to follow to run a food drive. In addition, they may be able to supply you with helpful tips or materials, such as food collection bins with their logo on them.
  4. Create friendly competition. Does your company have multiple divisions or departments? Even a small company can have employees split into two teams and each have ownership of their own food collection bin. Whichever department, division or team collects the most food may win workplace perks like a new break room appliance or a casual day.
  5. Get supervisors into the action. Maybe your boss will support your food drive with a big prize for the winning team, or have the supervisors of different divisions agree to a loser’s serenade to the winning team.
  6. Incorporate other events into your food drive idea. Encourage employees to bring a canned food item or two to the office holiday party. Ask for a few minutes at the next team meeting to announce progress for the food drive and highlight the mission of your local food banks. Get permission to use the company bulletin board to post the goal of your food drive.
  7. Individual rewards can drive up donations. Ask your supervisor if it’s possible to get an attractive reward for the top donor. Maybe an extra vacation day or a special lunch with the boss will be the motivation you need to meet the goal of your food drive.

Local food banks, like Second Harvest Community Food Bank, rely on the generosity of our community to help our neighbors. Hosting a food drive can be a great way to help us stock our shelves and raise awareness about the food insecure in our area. Give us a call today to get started on your workplace food drive.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 12/16/14, 10:00 AM

 

December 12, 2014

Community Action Partnership Works to Fight Hunger

In the fight against hunger, it takes the combined efforts of different organizations to help overcome food insecurity. Most food banks and other sources of nutrition for food insecure individuals are designed for emergency food needs, not for the ongoing support that is often necessary in many communities.

In addition, the local food bank benefits from coordinated efforts between different organizations. When a local agency is supported by a network, they can better serve those in their community.

One such partner in the fight against hunger across the country is the Community Action Partnership. The Community Action Partnership is a non-profit national member organization. It has approximately 1,100 members across the United States that work together to serve 17 million low-income Americans.

The Community Action Partnership does more than just support food banks across the country. They also assist a variety of other types of programs such as local Head Start programs, job training, financial education, plus many more. In a collaborative effort with the Community Action Partnership, these Community Action Agencies are able to take steps to improve life for many Americans.

One way that a network like the Community Action Partnership can help local agencies is through the sharing and informing of best practices. If a food bank discovers a particular strategy that helps them to recruit volunteers, for example, the Community Action Partnership is able to communicate the instructions to other food banks across the country.

A current initiative of the Community Action Partnership is called Rooting Out Poverty. In this initiative the Community Action Partnership is working to identify and implement successful best practices among their agencies aimed at improving economic conditions in the areas their agencies serve.

Rooting Out Poverty is designed to improve economic security for all Americans, but it focuses on the needs of those that are most significantly struck by poverty. Through this initiative, the Community Action Partnership is able to make specific recommendations about how to best serve those most vulnerable to poverty, including children, families and senior citizens.

The Racial Equity and Economic Security project examines the strategies designed to reduce poverty and examines whether they are more effective when racial inequalities are part of the consideration. This tool is helping local agencies develop materials that most help their neighbors.

Just a few of the ways that the Community Action Partnership supports their local agencies is through a quarterly magazine, training and technical service opportunities, a weekly electronic newsletter and an annual convention.

Second Harvest Community Food Bank is one local arm of a network of organizations dedicated to helping our neighbors in need. To find out more about how we serve the Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas area, contact us today.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 12/12/14, 10:00 AM

 

December 09, 2014

Hosting a Successful Food Drive

Have you ever thought about coordinating a food drive? It’s a simple way to make a huge impact, though there are generally a few guidelines when you host a food drive. Otherwise, roll up your sleeves, get the word out, and get started! Here are a few tips to ensure that your food drive is successful:

Do Your Prep Work

Before you get rolling on a food drive, make sure you have the endorsement of the top management at your organization. Without their support, you may have trouble getting your food drive going. Next, invite a few coworkers to a planning meeting and find out where they would like to help. You’ll need help in several areas, such as publicity and transport, so delegate accordingly.

 

If you expect that your food drive will bring in at least 300 pounds, ask your local food bank if they will supply you with donation collection barrels. Plan to place them in the spots where you expect the most donation traffic.

Get the Word Out

Choose a catchy theme for your food drive and publicize it using posters, flyers, emails and social media. In your advertising, make sure you mention the items your food bank most needs.

If your organization sponsoring the food drive is your employer, ask them to include payroll stuffers inviting employees to make cash donations. Make mention of the fact that each dollar donated can be used to make three meals for hungry neighbors.

Get local news involved with your food drive. Ask newspapers and television stations to donate an ad spot to your food drive or mention it in columns and highlights. Get other local businesses involved by scheduling tours of the food bank during lunch hour. These employees may be inspired to get the word out at their own workplace or sponsor their own future food drive.

Before your food drive, provide education through your advertising. Talk about the need for healthy foods being donated, not the dregs of the cupboard. Draw attention to the need for healthy canned veggies, fruits and meats and boxes of whole grain pasta.

Create Challenges and Track Progress

In your planning, talk about a goal for your food drive. Create visual aids to track how your food drive is progressing and update it during the food drive collection period.

To show the need for the food drive, you can create a display board that highlights hunger in your area. There are many hunger statistics you can display, such as the number of food insecure in your area and how many of your neighbors are forced to choose between purchasing groceries and other necessities like utilities or medication.

Other creative ideas include themed days, such as Macaroni Monday or Tuna Tuesday to drive up donations of items that are needed by the food bank. Ask your employer to sponsor a veggie challenge, in which every can of green veggies is matched by a dollar donation from your employer.

At Second Harvest Community Food Bank, we rely on the donations received through food drives. Our neighbors benefit from the generous donations of food and time that you give each year! Call us today to get started on coordinating a food drive in the Second Harvest service area.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 12/09/14, 10:00 AM

 

December 05, 2014

Feeding Missouri Provides Ideas on Fighting Hunger

Did you know that there are 60,000 food insecure individuals in the Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas region served by Second Harvest Community Food Bank. Included in that total is 17,000 children. We work to distribute food through our direct service programs, but much of the food is distributed through our more than 100 Partner Agencies.

The Hunger in America 2014 Report shows that 38 percent of our Partner Agencies have had to cut back in the past year in the areas of operations, staff or limiting the area they serve. Want to help? Join us in our mission to build hunger-free communities with one of these ideas from Fighting Hunger Feeding Missouri.

It’s Game Time

  • Organize a basketball bracket for March Madness. Make it a 50-50 prize, with the winner receiving half of the proceeds and the other half going to Second Harvest or one of our Partner Agencies dedicated to feeding Missouri.
  • Hold a board game tournament. Invite participants to play for a $10 fee, and then the top two or three winners of Battleship, Uno or Twister win a cash prize. The rest goes to Second Harvest.
  • Set up guessing games at school or church events. Simply set up a table with a jar of candy, dog biscuits or other small items and allow attendees to purchase guesses. The winner takes home the jar and Second Harvest gets the proceeds.

Get ‘em Eating to Fight hunger

  • Put your bake sale on turbo and include additional items like preserves and other homemade specialties. Add on a guess-the-weight competition with a cake or a giant jar of cookies.
  • Put on a spaghetti dinner or pancake breakfast with the goal of feeding Missouri. Ask a local grocery store to donate the ingredients. For a $5 fee, guests can enjoy a simple meal and purchase desserts or an extra $1 each. Consider combining this with another event, like a silent auction or a student art sale.

Using the Arts to Feed Missouri

  • Get your boogie on and schedule a dance-a-thon to support Second Harvest. Dancers are sponsored by their friends and family.
  • Collect used books from friends and family over a few months and then hold a book sale, with proceeds going to Second Harvest.
  • Ask the local library to donate collected fines to Second Harvest, up to a certain goal.
  • Organize a Canapalooza. Schedule an art fair, a musical and a band concert at school, with patrons bringing a canned good to gain admittance.

You can get creative with your efforts to help us in feeding Missouri. If you are interested in getting involved with Second Harvest Community Food Bank  on an ongoing basis, consider becoming a volunteer and join us in our mission to build hunger-free communities.

 

 

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 12/05/14, 10:00 AM

 

December 02, 2014

Snapshot of Success: Gary Kincaid Volunteers With a Vision of a Hunger-Free Community

Behind the scenes at Second Harvest Community Food Bank, you’ll regularly see groups of volunteers rolling up their sleeves to work in the Harvest House, shelve food donations or assist with food drive collections. They share a common passion for serving others and for the mission of Second Harvest. Many are regulars, and some – like board member and volunteer Gary Kincaid – have spent more than ten years diligently sharing their talents. 

If you met Gary Kincaid, his warm smile and calm and sincere personality would at once make you feel comfortable. He brings these personal traits to the service that he offers as a volunteer in his community. For more than a decade he has volunteered with the Second Harvest Community Food Bank in St. Joseph and believes that, “as responsible community members we are called to respond to the needs of our neighbors.” He willingly and compassionately gives his time to support Second Harvest’s mission to eliminate hunger in his community and in the neighboring communities that span nineteen counties throughout Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas.

Gary knows that most individuals and families have had unusual situations occur in their lives such as a loss of employment, income insecurity, health and medical issues, or other events beyond their control. In fact, Gary says that most members receiving food assistance are employed and just need a little extra help trying to make ends meet and keep up with bills and expenses while keeping their families fed. With Second Harvest he can provide that extra help through offering nutritious foods to members of all ages.

Over the years, Gary has seen rewarding and inspiring changes in his community through work with Second Harvest. He has seen more families and individuals with food insecurity helped than ever before. As more families are gathering around tables for dinner, the nutritional value of the food has increased, too, and healthier foods help prevent illness and feed the brain as well as the muscles and bones.

As Gary continues to be a part of the Second Harvest mission he has hopes for the future. “I hope that the successful Backpack Buddies program will continue to grow and reach children in all of the school districts in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas. I’m also hoping for a greater reach, visibility and awareness of Second Harvest in outlying communities. And through mobile food pantries and an increase in partner agencies, more families will better be able to put nutritional meals on their tables,” he says.

Gary encourages others to volunteer with Second Harvest because it is a way to become “directly engaged in making a difference” in improving the lives of your neighbors and fellow community members. Gary serves his community in multiple ways in helping to eliminate hunger. He also helps at St. Joseph’s downtown Open Door Food Kitchen once a month with his fellow church members.

He notes that people in all walks of life may need some extra help at some time in their life. “I hope that through the temporary nutritional support from Second Harvest that individuals and families will be able to find their footing, eventually get back on their feet and no longer need assistance,” says Gary.

As Gary continues to work toward that goal, little by little, a hunger-free community seems that much closer to reality.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 12/02/14, 10:00 AM

 

November 28, 2014

Child Hunger Ends Here

Many of the families in the United States that are food insecure have children among their numbers. Even when there is a working adult in the house, there often isn’t enough money to purchase groceries, as well as pay the bills. This means that children often eat food that is cheap, but not nutritious, or they eat no food at all.

Food banks around the country are taking steps to ensure that child hunger ends. The following are a few ways that we can make a difference:

Child Hunger Ends Here When we Distribute Surplus Food to the Hungry

Studies have shown that in the U.S., up to 40 percent of our food ends up wasted. If we work with restaurants, schools, hotels and entertainment venues to coordinate the distribution of surplus food to people in need, children can receive the food they need.

Child Hunger Ends Here When We Initiate Food Drives

Food drives are popular during the holidays, but food banks and food pantries need re-supplying all year. While you’re at it, put out a can for donations. While food donations help, money collected is even more powerful because of the discounts that food banks receive when they buy the specific foods they need to stock. Consider adding a competitive angle to your food drive, too, pitting two schools or rival businesses against one another to see who can collect the most food.

Child Hunger Ends Here With a Community Garden

Organize a garden at your school, like Mark Twain Elementary School here in St. Joseph. Not only can you grow fresh produce for a local families, but your participants learn about how to grow food and the impact it can have on a food bank’s ability to offer fresh, nutritious foods.

Child Hunger Ends Here When You Volunteer

Food banks need a full staff every day. When you spend time volunteering at the food bank, it won’t take long for you to see the important role these organizations play. Make sure you call ahead and find out ways you and your family can volunteer. Here at Second Harvest Community Food Bank we have a large number of volunteer opportunities you can be a part of.

Child Hunger Ends Here When You Support a Backpack Program

Backpack programs, like Second Harvest’s Backpack Buddies, offer meals for hungry kids during weekends and school breaks. These programs can have a powerful impact, but they require a lot of volunteers and food to pack. Consider giving your time or making a donation to our backpack program.

Child Hunger Ends Here When You Support a Summer Feeding Program

The summer months can be hard for kids. During the school year, they have access to reduced-price or free lunches, but when school is out, they may struggle to get quality meals. Help alleviate this problem by giving your time or money to our No Hunger Summer Program.

Take time to learn more about ways to help hungry children in your neighborhood by contacting Second Harvest Community Food Bank. We welcome volunteers, food donations and monetary donations to help us put an end to child hunger.

Posted by Gayle Stowers - 11/28/14, 10:00 AM

 

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