Thankful Thursday: Rick Engineering Company

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

For Sharon Liu with Rick Engineering Company, the joy of volunteering began as a high school student in Southern California. She dedicated much of her time then to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Orange County. While in college she didn’t find much time to give back, but as soon as she landed a professional position in San Diego she looked for opportunities to get involved in the local community. Luckily for us, she found the San Diego Food Bank.

At Rick Engineering Company, Sharon has organized monthly volunteer visits to the Food Bank’s Miramar warehouse to sort food and pack boxes. This year she even brought a team to the recent San Diego Blues Festival. The group worked at the ticket sales booth and, according to the Food Bank’s Robin Skale, “totally rocked the house!”

But where Sharon and her colleagues from Rick Engineering truly shine is in their internal and highly competitive food drives. This year, the local company raised 2,766 pounds of food for the Food Bank during its food drive in September by holding an internal competition between four teams within the company. In total, the group provided the equivalent of 2,305 meals for low-income San Diegans!

Sharon says the food drive idea started a couple years ago and has turned into a real competition for the company’s teams. In addition to providing critically-needed food, participating in the food drive competition has opened the eyes of some her colleagues to the needs of the community.
“Through the food drives and volunteer work, I think we have gained more exposure about what the San Diego Food Bank does and how we can help alleviate the hunger problem in our region,” said Sharon, an Associate Water Resources Designer. “It’s been a good thing. I also appreciate how the Food Bank makes it so easy to host a food drive and to sign up as a volunteer.”

The Food Bank sends a sincere thank you on this “Thankful Thursday” to Sharon and all the kind and generous folks at Rick Engineering Company for their on-going efforts to provide food to people faced with food insecurity in our community. See you and your crew in the warehouse soon!

Doesn't this stuffed acorn squash look scrumptious?

Nutrition Notes: Savory & Delicious Stuffed Acorn Squash

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

With fall season in full swing, I thought it would be a good idea to share my favorite healthy and absolutely delicious fall recipe with you all! These sweet and savory squash bowls are nutritiously filled with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and Potassium. And if all that isn’t enough to convince you to indulge in this healthy vegetable, acorn squash is also a good source of dietary fiber – yay!

Recipe: Italian Sweet and Savory Squash Bowls

Duration: 45-50 minutes

Italian Sweet and Savory Squash Bowls

2 small to medium acorn squash (the halves should be the size of a small bowl)
16 ounces 98% lean ground turkey
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms, diced
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb mix dried oregano, thyme, basil, parsley (I prefer fresh if I have it)
1/4 cup reconstituted sun dried tomatoes


Fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled

Wash, halve and scrape the inside of the squash. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place squash in a shallow baking pan, cut side down. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until tender. Turn cut side up, brush with olive oil, then bake for 20 more minutes.

In a large pan, fry crumbled turkey sausage, olive oil, onions, garlic, and dry herbs on medium heat. When turkey is almost thoroughly cooked, add sun-dried tomatoes. Continue cooking turkey until it is fully cooked. Add 1/4 cup water if it seems dry. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Remove from heat.

Place squash halves on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Mound the filling into squash halves. Coat the filled squash with fresh breadcrumbs and sprinkle with a thick layer of feta cheese. Broil just until cheese is lightly browned. Serve and enjoy! Yum!

Thank you Anthem Blue Cross for not only sharing your positive attitudes with us, but for donating your time to help us end hunger in San Diego County!

Volunteer Spotlight: Anthem Blue Cross

by Cristina Sierra, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

This month we had the pleasure of hosting a corporate event for Anthem Blue Cross. This was their first-ever volunteering event with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. Twenty-five very enthusiastic participants came to our distribution center with uplifting attitudes and all smiles ready to make an impact towards the Food Bank’s fight against hunger. With their shirts donned, Anthem collectively provided a generous $500 grant for the Food Bank. Wow! Amazing! Thank you so much.

David Naimark, Medical Director for the West Region of Anthem, is a regular volunteer with the Food Bank. He thought it would be a wonderful idea to host a corporate event for Anthem to give back to its community through volunteer service. He was able to provide 25 volunteers, who each contributed 50 hours towards our organization. We appreciate him so much for bringing the man power to help us out! Each month, the Food Bank serves 370,000 people in San Diego County who face the threat of hunger every day, and we simply could not do this without the volunteers who contribute their time and effort to our organization.

Anthem served in two of our distribution projects: sorting through fresh produce, and packing 30 pound food boxes for our senior clients. A third of the food we provide to the community is fresh produce. Anthem successfully sorted and repacked 4,000 pounds of fresh onions for distribution. Through our Senior Food Program, we are able to serve 8,400 seniors each month who face hunger. Again, Anthem successfully created 540, 30-pound boxes which will be distributed at our 50 distribution sites thought San Diego County. That equals to more than 16,000 pounds of food that we are able to provide to those in our community who really need it. Incredible!

From all of us from the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, we want to give a huge THANK YOU to Anthem for their motivation to serve, their amazing uplifting attitudes, their generous donation and most importantly their time. Thank you for being part of our vision to have a hunger-free San Diego!

Did you know that the human tongue has more than 10,000 taste buds!?

Nutrition Notes: The Science of Taste

by Callie Brust (MPH, RDN, CHES), Nutrition & Wellness Educator

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I excitedly look forward to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ national conference every year. The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo was held in Nashville, TN a few weeks ago and boy was it a nutrition lover’s dream! I sampled new foods, networked with other nutrition professionals, and heard the latest research in our field. One of my favorite sessions discussed the science of taste and how taste can influence what we eat. Want to know if taste buds change your dinner plate?

The 5 regions of taste on your tongue are Sweet, Salty, Sour, Umami (think savory) and Bitter. The researchers chose to focus on the Bitter taste. Did you ever wonder why certain veggies are bitter? Like kale, Brussels sprouts, or turnip greens? During the growing process, some vegetables produce a bitter taste to keep bugs away! Built in bug deterrent! And based on your personal genetic code, you may or may not taste the full bitterness of those veggies.

During the presentation, the researcher handed out bitter paper to place on our tongues. The paper represented the specific bitterness of bitter veggies. It was the most disgusting thing I had ever tasted. My friend next to me… she didn’t taste a thing. So I most definitely have the DNA code to taste this specific bitterness. Awesome. But this doesn’t change what I eat. I love Brussels sprouts, I love greens!

So what’s the point? The research shows that our taste buds may influence our food choices. So if you taste the really bitter taste, you may not put those veggies on your plate. BUT there is also research to say that our taste buds are not destiny. This means you can learn to overcome the bitter taste. That’s great news! I can continue to love my bitter veggies and all the nutrients they contain! So keep your options open when choosing your foods. Try new foods in new ways to keep your taste buds guessing. Through different recipes and cooking methods we can learn to enjoy all vegetables.

Try this recipe for Garlic Lemon and Parmesan Roasted Brussel Sprouts.


- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, rinsed and dried, ends trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise

- 2 ­ to 3 cloves garlic, minced

- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving

- 1/2 tsp (scant) fine sea salt, or to taste

- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add Brussels sprouts and garlic to a large mixing bowl.

2. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice then toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.

3. Spread onto a cookie sheet in an even layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven, tossing once halfway through baking, until golden brown on edges, about 25 -30 minutes.

5. Serve warm spritzed with more lemon juice to taste and topped with Parmesan cheese.

No matter the age, all volunteers are welcome to help pick fresh produce with ProduceGood.

Thankful Thursday: ProduceGood’s CropSwap Program

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

According to journalist and blogger Jonathan Bloom, each day Americans waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl in Pasadena from the field to the stadium brim. In hard numbers, that’s equivalent to 160 billion pounds of food that could have been used to feed people in need. Hearing statistics like these prompted Nita Kurmins Gilson, Jerilyn White and Alexandra White to found ProduceGood – a local non-profit organization that organizes food recovery efforts to glean fruits and vegetables primarily from San Diego residents’ gardens and overgrown trees.

Recently, ProduceGood partnered with the San Diego Food Bank on a CropSwap activity in Rancho San Diego. Teams of volunteers, including the Food Bank’s Vice President of Development Liz Sheahan, worked together to pick oranges, fruit that will go to San Diegans facing food insecurity and hungry for nutritious, fresh food. Since partnering with the Food Bank in August 2015, ProduceGood has facilitated the donation of 4,331 pounds of citrus fruit from residential homeowners, and an additional 872 pounds of organic tomatoes from an organic grower for a total of 5,203 pounds. For Nita, it’s the start of something significant.

“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” she explained. “It is so inspiring to see that the time has come for food recovery efforts. People are finally getting that. At this moment, we’re affecting change and it’s all coming together. It feels so hopeful.”

The flagship program of ProduceGood, CropSwapSanDiego, is a gleaning group that harvests excess fruit in backyard orchards in San Diego (with permission of the owners) and delivers it to local food banks, like the San Diego Food Bank. Pitching in at this local CropSwap event was 15-year-old San Carlos resident Trevor and his family. The local high school student expressed the reward he felt volunteering his time to make a difference.

“It feels nice to do something that benefits other people,” he said. “The people here are really awesome.”

On this “Thankful Thursday,” the Food Bank thanks Trevor, Nita and all the volunteers with ProduceGood for their tremendous work in rolling up their sleeves and personally collecting food for our neighbors in need. Your work lessens the amount of food wasted in our region while putting food on the table for low-income seniors, hard-working families, dedicated military personnel and their families, veterans and the homeless.

If you are interested in volunteering with ProduceGood, contact the organization by emailing or visit their website at

The San Diego Food Bank is thankful for the steadfast support of Baker Electric Solar!

Thankful Thursday: Baker Electric Solar

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

You never know when or where inspiration is going to strike. For the good people at Baker Electric Solar, the drive to get involved with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank came while up on the roof. Specifically, Baker Electric Solar installed the solar panels on the roof of the Food Bank’s Miramar warehouse as part of a recent capital improvement project. The local company soon became immersed in the Food Bank’s mission because of the inspiration they found in working on this project and that work has taken on many forms.

After installation of the solar panels, Baker Electric Solar’s next step in its work with the Food Bank was to extend financial support by becoming a stage sponsor at the San Diego Blues Festival. In addition to the monetary contribution, company employees volunteered at the Blues Festival working side-by-side with Food Bank staff. The volunteers showed great dedication and commitment to the cause throughout the two-day event.

On Thursday, October 8, Baker Electric Solar continued to showcase its generous spirit by holding a customer appreciation event at the lovely Stone Brewing location on the hill near the company’s headquarters in Escondido. They added a charity element to the event by producing a raffle with appealing baskets and items from their vendors.  Food Bank staff members Sandy Rabourne and Grace Harrison attended the event and mingled with Baker Electric Solar’s customers sharing the important work the company was providing on a larger scale for the community through their partnership with the Food Bank.

“I was so impressed with how organized and well put together the event was,” Sandy shared.  “Grace and I felt like advocates not just for the Food Bank, but for the philanthropic mission of Baker Electric Solar as well.”

In total, the evening event raised $700 from the raffle, and, as company spokesperson Shannon mentioned during the event, that’s 3,500 meals for Food Bank clients!

The Food Bank sends a warm “Thankful Thursday” thank you to Baker Electric Solar for providing a wonderful example of how companies are contributing to the greater good of San Diego and how we are all enrolled in this mission together.

Sweet tooth aching? Try creating a delicious and nutritious yogurt parfait like the one pictured above. Photo from:

Nutrition Notes: 10 Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

Are you hypnotized by chocolate? Do you prefer to bypass dinner just to get to dessert that much quicker? While indulging in dessert on occasion is fine, we may be guilty of overindulging a bit more than we would like to admit. Because cutting out dessert is simply not realistic (I mean come on- it’s the best part of the day) I have gathered ten delicious and affordable sweet treats that will satisfy your cravings, without compromising your health!

1. Yogurt Parfait
Take 1 cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt and add your choice of granola, nuts, berries, or shaved dark chocolate for a snack rich in high quality protein, calcium and vitamin D!

2. Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit is full of natural sugar, which has the potential to satisfy almost any sugar craving while simultaneously increasing your daily fiber and overall vitamin and mineral intake.

3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, which consists of 70% or more of cocoa has significantly less fat and sugar when compared to milk chocolate, and has actually been proven to be a healthy treat in moderation. Not only is dark chocolate delicious, but it is full of powerful antioxidants that can provide essential health benefits to the body!

4. PB & Banana Sandwich
Consuming one piece of whole wheat toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter topped with a sliced banana will yield a satisfying and sweet snack while also providing fiber and protein.

5. Baked Apple w/ Cinnamon
Baking an apple until it is tender will provide a more appealing texture, as well as cause the apple to taste sweeter. Sprinkle some cinnamon on the apples to create a sweet snack high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

6. Homemade Nut Bars
Homemade nut bars, if made with minimal added sugar, can provide a mouthwatering and delicious snack high in vitamin E, essential fatty acids and protein.

7. Trail Mix
Consuming mixed nuts along with some dried cranberries or raisins will provide you with an exceptionally sweet snack that is also heart healthy!

8. Cottage Cheese w/ Mangos
Consuming half of a cup of nonfat cottage cheese served with a side of sliced mangos will provide a kick of sweetness as well as a heaping serving of vitamin D and calcium.

9. Hot Chocolate
Warm up an 8 ounce cup of low fat milk and mix with one teaspoon of 70% cocoa powder for a deliciously sweet beverage under 200 calories and full of protein, calcium, and vitamin D!

10. Chocolate Mousse Yogurt
Blend 3/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt, 1 tbsp cocoa, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp honey (or sugar substitute) for a low calorie and delectable dessert.

Dave is all smiles after being told he was selected by staff to be our September Volunteer of the Month!

Meet the Food Bank’s September Volunteer of the Month!

by Cristina Sierra, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

Dave Fleischman is our September “Volunteer of the Month.” He contributes many hours each week lending a helping hand in our distribution center. When asked what motivated him to volunteer his time at the Food Bank, Fleischman smiled and said, because he wants to make a difference, and a difference he makes. Fleischman sorts through hundreds of pounds of produce two to three shifts per week, amazing! He also takes the initiative each week leading volunteers through their various tasks. We appreciate him so much.

Fleischman, a U.S. Navy veteran and a Physics professor, dedicates his time and really makes an impact at the Food Bank. When asked about his beginnings, Fleischman explained that it was thanks to his wife, a Registered Dietitian and Registered Nurse that he first volunteered with the San Diego Food Bank. Fleischman and his wife volunteered their time together through a volunteer event with Sharp Hospital, and ever since then Fleischman has never looked back. We thank you Dave for a job well done. You inspire and motivate, and that is why you are our September “Volunteer of the Month”!

When it comes to losing weight and then keeping it off long-term, portion sizes are key.

Nutrition Notes: 6 Tips for Controlling Portions

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

When it comes to losing weight and then keeping it off long-term, portion sizes are key. An issue that we tend to ignore is the alarming ways in which we eat extra calories numerous times throughout the day – a slightly larger slice of toast, an extra teaspoon or two of dressing or simply eating from larger utensils are just a few of the ways in which our portions tend to gradually increase over time, along with our weight.

However, the good news is that once you have a much clearer idea of what a portion of food should be, it becomes easy to cut back and ultimately improve your health!

Tips to Control Portions

1. Don’t skip meals. When you are overly hungry, you tend to eat larger portions. Try to avoid going longer than 5 hours without eating, and if possible try to incorporate a healthy and light snack throughout your day in order to satisfy your hunger until your next meal.

2. Know how to estimate food sizes. 1 cup of cereal should be the size of your fist, 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta, or potatoes should look like 1/2 of a baseball, 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry should be the size of a deck of cards, 1 teaspoon of margarine should look like 1 dice, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter should look like a ping pong ball.

3. Pay attention to serving sizes on packaged food. If you typically consume an 8 ounce tub of ice cream, but the serving size on the label is for a 4 ounce serving, then you have just consumed double the calories, fat, and sugar that is on the nutrition facts panel. It is crucial that you be aware of serving sizes on packaged foods when learning how to correctly portion your meals. Ignoring the serving sizes on packages can lead to weight gain, so beware!

4. Avoid mindless eating. Try to avoid hanging out in the kitchen or in areas where there are unhealthy foods readily available. By avoiding these types of atmospheres you will be less likely to over eat. Try making the healthy choice, the easiest choice. For example, keep healthy snacks visible rather than unhealthy foods.

5. Mini-size plates. Reduce plate sizes from a 12″ standard plate to a 9-10” plate. This will cause a decrease in calories consumed by over 20%. Additionally, leave the pot of food on the stove rather than at the center of the table, this will reduce the chance of going for a second helping. Remember, “out of sight, out of mind!”

For more information on portion control, please visit the portion distortion webpage on the department of Health and Human Services Website by clicking here.