Food Bank Nutrition & Wellness Educator, Jenna Olson, teaching the importance of eating healthy.

San Diego Food Bank makes senior nutrition a top priority with SONDAS

by San Diego Food Bank staff

Through the Food Bank’s SONDAS (Solving Obesity and Nutritional Disease Affecting Seniors) Program, impoverished San Diego seniors receive the nutritious food they need, the nutritional education they lack and the personal support necessary to make lasting changes to their lifestyles. Guided by the experienced hand of the Food Bank’s Registered Dietitian, Jenna Olson (pictured in the photograph above), the SONDAS Program has seen the implementation of our first-ever nutrition curriculum specifically for seniors and increased the distribution of fresh produce to this targeted population. The series of workshops and presentations kicked off in March and covers a variety of topics that are relevant to our senior population including:

- Eating Healthy on a Budget
- Making Healthy Eating Part of Your Lifestyle
- How to Navigate a Grocery Store
- How to Incorporate Physical Activity at Home
- Steps to Shake the Salt and Sugar Habit

Attending seniors receive nutrition-related handouts of the material discussed in class as well as various recipe cards that often coincide with the fresh produce participants receive at three out of the six sessions.  Senior participants have shown eagerness to take steps to improve their lifestyle while attending these classes.  For example, seniors have reported that they are using the MyPlate guide for making meals for their grandchildren. While other anecdotal examples of the program’s positive impact include reports from participants that show they have created a meal plan reflecting a better, more well-rounded diet, have tried new fruits and vegetables that they have not tried before and some seniors even starting to work in their apartment complex’s garden a couple of times a week alongside neighbors.

The Food Bank’s SONDAS Program is part of a larger Senior Initiative that is an important component of our comprehensive efforts to address hunger and food insecurity throughout San Diego County.  In a very short time period, hundreds of seniors have added more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets and received the relevant nutrition education that underlines the importance of eating right and regular physical activity.  As SONDAS continues, we expect to see thousands of seniors benefiting from the work of the Food Bank team and the healthy approach to aging they promote. The Food Bank’s senior nutrition education initiative is funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation and by a grant from The Walmart Foundation.

Interested in learning more about the SONDAS program, volunteering with the program or having the classes at your site? Contact Jenna Olson, RD for more information at 858-863-5197 or


Time to get healthy before flu season kicks up!

Nutrition Notes: Flu-Season Survival Guide

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

As everyone starts to stock up on hand sanitizer and tissues in preparation for flu season, it is important to remember that healthy eating during cold and flu season is essential to avoid getting sick. It is always important to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced diet following MyPlate guidelines, but the next few months call for extra nutrient-packed defense systems! When the body is healthy inside and out, it has an easier time fighting off infection. In order to prepare the best protection, it is important to remember that staying healthy doesn’t end at the dinner table. In order to boost your overall health, remember the following tips:

Get plenty of rest. Sleep is important for all ages and the proper amount can directly influence how you feel as well as daily performance at work or school. The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, while school-aged children get at least 10 hours of sleep.

Eat a well-balanced diet.  Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into meal and snack time provides immune boosting nutrients that help shield the body from infection. Get some snack-spiration here.

Exercise regularly. If exercise hasn’t found a home in your daily routine, try to make room for it gradually. It is best to aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. It is important to never get discouraged if you get off track with your exercise routine. It is never too late to restart your journey to a healthy and happy you!

Decrease stress. Work, traffic, family, house work… it all adds up and without an outlet, the body runs on overdrive and the stress can be an additional avenue for a sickness to form. Try to find 5 to 10 minutes each day upon waking and/or before bed to meditate or take self-reflection time to de-stress. If you have additional time, try incorporating some yoga or balance poses.

Cut back on unhealthy habits. It isn’t time for New Year’s resolutions just yet, but it is the perfect time to cut back on bad habits. Try to make one simple healthy change over the next 30 days. Some examples: read for 30 minutes every day, try a new fitness class, have a fruit and vegetable with every meal. It takes about 20 to 30 days for a habit to form, so you will be well on your way to a healthier you just in time for the holidays!

Over the next 30 days, challenge yourself to make one, maybe two simple changes that will aid in a healthier & happier you. Here is a short video for some inspiration: Try Something New for 30 Days. Share your 30 day small changes with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and stay healthy this flu season!

Teen Challenge gave fresh produce to more than 1,400 people facing hunger last month.

Teen Challenge Awarded September Nonprofit Partner of the Month

by Shelly Hahne, Nonprofit Services Manager

Teen Challenge is a nonprofit partner that is very active in both the Food to Nonprofits program and hosts a monthly Neighborhood Distribution. Their staff members are incredibly organized and efficient when they select and pick up food from the warehouse. They utilize the services offered by the Food Bank to their full potential.

In the last year through the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, Teen Challenge has distributed 196,914 pounds of food (equivalent to 153,839 meals) to people facing hunger in our community. Included in that is an incredible 160,000 pounds of fresh produce.

As part of the City Heights community, Teen Challenge is becoming engaged in a unique project between the San Diego Food Bank and Feeding America San Diego, where all nonprofits in the community will work together to provide an equitable and dignified food system for people facing hunger. This is an exciting pilot project, and Teen Challenge is enthusiastic about being involved and working with their neighboring agencies.

When asked about their Food Bank partnership, Mike Conway of Teen Challenge said, “We are so thankful that we can work together to meet the needs of the hungry families in our community.”

Regarding their recent Neighborhood Distribution that served 319 households containing 1,425 people, Conway said, “It was such a wonderful day and everyone went home with a renewed sense of hope and gratitude. Thank you so much for your partnership!”

The staff at Teen Challenge is conscientious of report deadlines and is always sure to have statistics for both its Neighborhood Distribution and Food to Nonprofits submitted on time. The San Diego Food Bank thanks Teen Challenge for being such a great partner!

Phone number for people seeking services: 619-295-0337

Neighborhood Distribution Site 
Food Location:
5450 Lea Street, San Diego, CA 92105
Food Hours: 2nd Monday from 9:00 a.m. until the produce is gone

Eating healthy while watching football is possible!

Nutrition Notes: Healthy Tailgating Tips

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Ready… set… hike! Fall is almost here, which means football season is back! The return of America’s most popular sport marks the beginning of tailgating season, which tends to include calorie-laden drinks, chips, fried foods and don’t forget the burgers and hot dogs! Watching football without food would be incomplete, but is there a way to keep it healthy along the sidelines? Why, of course! Just because it’s football season, doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthily while cheering on your favorite NFL team.

Grill Without Guilt

Barbecuing doesn’t have to put a damper on fitness and diet goals. There are a lot of ways to stay healthy by lightening up traditional tailgate foods.

- Make it lean when it comes to meat options. Try to choose ground meat that is 93% lean or more, if possible.

- Bulk up your burger or sandwich with extra vegetables like avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes or onions!

- Looking to save some calories for dessert? Try having your sandwich or burger wrapped in crunchy lettuce instead of using a bun. You can also skip the cheese
and save about 100 calories.

Survive Snack-Attacks

Chips, dips and desserts can be hard to tackle when it comes to tailgating in a healthy way, because those treats can often lead to overeating. This year, fuel up before you hit the fields with veggies. Vegetables can help keep you feeling fuller longer and can replace chips for dipping into bean-based dips such as hummus. Need some recipe inspiration? Check out these top 20 healthy tailgating recipes.

Exercise Break at Halftime

Football games tend to include a lot of eating and sitting. Encourage guests to take a halftime walk or stretch outside to get some fresh air and get the blood pumping again. Also, never forget the importance of hydration throughout the day! Oftentimes, the body can confuse hunger with thirst, which can be a sign of dehydration.

Do you have any healthy tailgating recipes? Share a picture or idea with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

How much nutritious food do you think you can buy with $34.31 a week?

Nutrition Notes: CalFresh Challenge Week

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Could you maintain a food budget of $34.31 for a week? That’s about $4.90 per day. For more than 285,000 low-income San Diego County residents, $34.31 is their weekly allotment for all of their food and beverage needs. This week marks the 8th annual CalFresh Challenge running today through Sunday, Sept. 21. The CalFresh Challenge provides participants an idea of what it is like for millions of Americans that work paycheck to paycheck to provide for themselves and their families.

The challenge started in 2007 when four members of Congress decided to live on an average food stamp budget for one week to raise awareness and understanding of what challenges many people face on a daily basis while receiving CalFresh benefits.

It isn’t too late to participate in the challenge this week. Here are the rules:

1. Budget: Each person has a total budget of $34.31 to be spent on food and beverages for the week (that’s about $4.90 per day).

2. What’s included in the budget: All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.

3. Food at home: During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).

4. Social situations with food: Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including receptions or social events.

5. Share your experience with us: Document your experience throughout the week using a blog or daily journal to track how you approached the Challenge and share your stories and recipes with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Eating healthy can be tough when you are on a tight budget, below are a couple of resources for low cost healthy recipes that work on a CalFresh budget:

- What’s Cooking USDA Mixing Bowl Recipes: This website provides CalFresh friendly recipes that include the total cost and cost per serving.

- Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day: This is a free PDF version of a new recipe book that provides healthy meal ideas for a CalFresh budget.

It isn’t too late to participate in the challenge this week. Consider doing the challenge with your family, friends, coworkers or your fellow community members that are participating and make it official by pledging your participating here. We are excited that students from San Diego State University are participating in the challenge!

Get creative with your lunch options!

Nutrition Notes: Lunchbox Makeover

by Jenna Olson, RD and Nutrition & Wellness Educator

As summer winds down, it is almost time to reset those alarm clocks and pack this year’s school supplies for the upcoming school year! The first few weeks of school are a fun time for kids to catch up on summer stories with classmates and get back into their learning routine. Make sure the whole family has the perfect fuel in their lunchbox to keep them going through the day. It is easy to get in a rut when you’re packing the same lunch day after day. This year, change it up! Try incorporating a few of these tips to make sure this year’s lunches won’t be traded at the lunch table.

Find a good reusable lunchbox.
There are so many different styles of lunchboxes now, so you are sure to find one that fits your style. Whether it be the bento box, collapsible lunchbox or the classic lunch cooler, find one that works for you, and make sure to stock up on a few quality reusable storage containers that fit inside your lunchbox.

Make the time.
Once you get home from the grocery store, dedicate some time to do all of the food prep work for the week. This includes all of your slicing, peeling or cooking and then separating it into individualized serving containers, so they are ready to go for your lunch. You can even save by purchasing items in bulk and then placing individual serving sizes in their own containers at home.

Have fun.
Try something “out of the box” by switching out the classic PB & J sandwich for a wrap or pita. Try a couple of these quick and healthy lunch ideas.

Include a snack.
Once that afternoon hunger strike hits, be prepared! Bring along a few snacks that can be stored in the fridge for the week at work, so you always have a couple go-to options. Try a couple of these easy and healthy snack ideas.

All of these tips can be incorporated into the whole family’s routine. It takes some time to turn healthy changes into habits, but by having the whole family involved in the process, it can be a fun way to have a few extra hands help out in the kitchen. Do you have any creative lunch box makeover ideas? Share a picture or idea with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

The Food Bank receives mushrooms like these from local farmers thanks to our Farm to Family program!

Nutrition Notes: California-Grown Mushrooms

by Jenna Olson, RD and Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Maitake, Beech, Button, Portobello and Shitake are all types of mushrooms that are often referred to in the food community as antioxidant superstars. Mushrooms are a great addition to any dish that enhance delicious flavor while adding many different health benefits. Mushrooms are high in fiber, low in calories and are packed with various vitamins. The B vitamins found in many common mushrooms may help relieve stress and aid in energy metabolism, whereas the Vitamin D keeps bones, hair, skin, and nails strong. With so many health benefits to offer, take advantage of it by adding mushrooms to one of your favorite dishes or if you stick to the Button or Portobello mushrooms most of the time, try a new kind! Here at the San Diego Food Bank, we often have two different California-grown mushrooms known as Brown and White Beech mushrooms (pictured above) along with Maitake mushrooms. These mushrooms may look a little different, but they still pack the same nutritious punch as their fungi relatives!

Preparation and Storage Tips!

Brown & White Beech Mushrooms:
Cut off and discard the base of the mushroom cluster and enjoy in small clusters or hand-broken individual stems.

Maitake Mushrooms:
Easily separate mushrooms by hand and enjoy.

All types of edible mushrooms:
Put your mushrooms in a paper bag and place that bag on a shelf in the refrigerator. Be sure to store them away from foods with a strong odor, because the mushrooms will absorb that scent. Also, keep the mushrooms out of the vegetable crisper drawer. Don’t plan to use the mushrooms within the next couple of days? You can save them for another week by storing them in the freezer.

What You Can Make Using Mushrooms!

- Mushroom quesadilla          - Roasted vegetables
- Taco toppings                        - Add mushrooms to fajitas, enchiladas or burritos
- Salad toppings                       – Omelets
- Miso soup                               - Make your own pizzas

Another option. Try a quick and easy mushroom sauté to add mushrooms to any favorite meal! Do you have a favorite recipe that includes mushrooms as an ingredient? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!


It's important to start your day with a well-balanced breakfast.

Nutrition Notes: The Benefits of Breakfast

by Jenna Olson, RD and Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Breakfast has long been noted as the most important meal of the day. After hours of sleep, breakfast literally means to break the fasting period from the prior night by kick starting our metabolism in the morning. This meal provides crucial fuel for our brain and body, and helps improve mental alertness and physical performance.

Breakfast gives you the chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal that incorporates the five food groups. Creating a breakfast that incorporates protein and fiber can help keep you full for a longer period of time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, adults and children who report regularly eating a healthy breakfast are more likely to:

• Control and maintain a healthy weight
• Eat less fat and cholesterol
• Have better concentration and be more alert
• Miss fewer days of school and work
• Meet their daily nutrient requirements

Does it seem that time is never on your side in the morning? Finding a few extra minutes to make a quick nutritious breakfast can save you in the long run. By providing the body and brain with the morning recharge, you’ll be more efficient in almost everything you do throughout the day. If breakfast is a new concept to the typical morning routine, try a few quick and easy meal ideas such as fruit and yogurt parfaits, smoothies or oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts. Here are a few ideas to help brainstorm new additions to your average morning routine:

- 10 Easy Breakfast Recipes
- Healthy, Quick and Portable Breakfast Ideas



That produce looks delicious!

Nutrition Notes: National Farmers Market Week

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Did you know the USDA recommends that each person consume 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables each day? Trying to reach your daily fruit and vegetable requirement can seem like hard work and without a game plan, it can be! That’s where farmers markets can come in handy! It just so happens that this week is recognized as National Farmers Market week!

Visiting farmers markets can be a fun experience for the whole family. As a team, you can shop at different vendors’ booths to find delicious and fresh local produce for your fridge. San Diego farmers markets come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in both urban and rural areas. Currently, there are more than 50 farmers markets each and every week throughout San Diego County that contain local produce from your San Diego friends and neighbors. Try to reach the daily fruit and vegetable recommendation a few days this week by utilizing a few of the tips below on how to include more produce into your daily food menus.

1. If you buy more… you eat more. It is that simple. If you replace the bags of chips and crackers in your pantry with a fridge full of produce, it can make snack time choices much healthier.

2. Prep early, eat more often. If you prepare fruits and vegetables by cutting, peeling and placing them in easy to grab containers right after your trip to the grocery store, then they are an easy on-the-go snack option.

3. Change it up. Take a look at a few of your favorite recipes this week. Are there any ways to sneak in a few more servings of fruits or vegetables in the dish?

4. Drink your vegetables. Not a big fan of salads? Then try making your own smoothies! You can incorporate many of the greens you see lining the walls of the produce aisle and not even taste them when they are paired with a few fruits in the blender. The smoothie may not be the prettiest color, but it will taste great!

5. Snack savvy. When that mid-morning and early afternoon stomach rumbling hits, be prepared! Start a healthy snack drawer at your home or office. You can include small bags of trail mix or nuts or even different kinds of fruit.

Farmers markets stock a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables and are known for the quality of the produce and for freshness and taste. It’s easy to find a farmers market near you. Visit this site to find your local neighborhood market!

August is 'Kids Eat Right' Month!

Nutrition Notes: August is ‘Kids Eat Right’ Month!

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

With childhood obesity on the rise, it is important to make sure kids are eating right and getting plenty of exercise.

Parents and caregivers can play a big role in a child’s nutrition and overall health by teaching kids about the benefits of fueling their bodies with healthy foods and encouraging them to spend less time sitting and more time moving. Plus, it is much easier to inspire kids to make good choices when you practice what you preach, too! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has some steps families can take to encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles:

1. Shop Smart. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

2. Cook Healthy. Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of meals. They will learn about food and may even be enticed to try new foods they helped prepare.

3. Eat Right. Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one another. Research indicates that those families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence and perform better in school.

4. Healthy Habits. You can help kids form great, healthy habits by setting a good example. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options, and male at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over sugary drinks, and opt for fat-free or low-fat milk.

5. Get Moving. Aside from being a great way to spend time together, regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for at least 60 minutes per day.

Getting kids to eat right can sometimes be a challenge, especially if they are picky eaters. But experts say that a conversation can help.

“Talk to your children. Learn the food they like. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. Find ways together to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal,” explains Angela Lemond, registered dietician and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

It may help to consult a registered dietician in your area to ensure your family is getting the nutrients it needs with a meal plan tailored to your lifestyle and busy schedule.

To learn more about ‘Kids Eat Right’ month, please visit

This August, reevaluate your family’s exercise and eating habits, and take steps to make positive, healthful changes.

*This blog post was adapted from the website. All rights reserved to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Page 10 of 1489101112