Choose My Plate

Nutrition Notes: Healthy meals made simple

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Almost two years ago, the USDA unveiled the MyPlate food guide. The MyPlate graphic was designed to make it easier to visualize what a healthy meal should look like when it comes to what you are eating. Listed below are a few tips to help your plate look more colorful at each meal. So, when you sit down to eat your next meal, check your plate. How many tips does your meal incorporate?

Balance calories:
Find out how many calories you need each day to help manage your weight. Check out to find an estimate of how many calories you need each day.

Enjoy your food, but eat less:
Try slowing down when eating and pay attention to hunger and satiety cues.

Keep size in check:
Avoid oversized portions.

Take a bite out of fresh produce:
Eat more fruits and vegetables by making them fill up half your plate at each meal.

Change it up:

- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Make half of your grains whole grains.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Here are a few sample recipes that you can try out that follow the MyPlate guidelines:

Brown Rice with Sizzling Chicken and Vegetables

Spinach Salad with Apples and Eggs

Herbed Garden Pizzas
(Note: If you do not have pizza crust, try using whole wheat tortillas to make individual pizzas.)

Do you have any favorite recipes that fit the MyPlate guidelines?

Share them with us on Facebook & Twitter!

Just one cup of coffee can have anywhere from 40 to more than 100 milligrams of caffeine.

Nutrition Notes: Kicking the caffeine habit

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Caffeine is a widely used stimulant found in coffee, soda, chocolate, tea, energy drinks, and over-the-counter medications. Caffeine is even found in certain food products now! Since it is classified as a stimulant, caffeine is often taken to help promote alertness and reduce fatigue. Moderate caffeine intake is okay, but too much can lead to unwanted side effects. It is important to cut back and look for caffeine-free products. (Note: Make sure to always look at the sugar content on the nutrition label, too. Try to keep it under 10 grams of sugar!)

Here are a few key points to remember:

- Reduce caffeine intake slowly by cutting out one caffeinated beverage each day. Try replacing it with a caffeine-free option.
- Start decreasing caffeine by drinking a mix half decaffeinated and half regular coffee or tea.
- Find natural energy by eating a power packed breakfast each morning! Try oatmeal with raisins and nuts!
- Make sure to get enough sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to feel well-rested.

When trying to cut back your caffeine intake, try incorporating smoothies, sparkling water, or decaf tea. Here are a few recipes to help get you started!

- Raspberry Lime Fizz
- Jicama Pina Breeze
- Triple Berry Smoothie
- Watermelon Water

From left to right: Parke Troutman (San Diego Hunger Coalition), Senator Ben Hueso, Melanie Nally (Community Health Improvement Partners)

San Diego-based advocacy coalition honors Senator Ben Hueso

by Lisa Bacon, Nonprofit Services Manager

On January 9th, the Hunger Advocacy Network hosted a reception at the New Children’s Museum to celebrate the work of its partners and honor Senator Ben Hueso for his work on a bill to reduce hunger among veterans. The No Hunger for Heroes Act (SB134), authored by Hueso and co-sponsored by the Hunger Advocacy Network and the San Diego Hunger Coalition, was signed into law last year. This legislation prevents counties from denying food assistance to unemployed veterans and instructs counties to refer veterans to local offices and training agencies that specifically cater to veteran needs.

Senator Hueso attended the Thursday evening event, and said a few words about hunger among his constituents. The great need in his district became evident to him while on a visit to a rural community. During this visit, he noticed a large gathering of people, which caught his attention due to the small population of the city. He approached the group and was offered fresh baked goods by one of the people in line. The woman explained to the senator that she was waiting in line for food assistance, and brought baked goods out each month to share with the other people waiting in line. Hueso was struck by the generosity of the woman, who was in such great need herself, and became determined to work on hunger relief efforts to ensure that none of his constituents went without such a basic need.

The event was also attended by staff members from other local political offices, including Senator Block and Senator Feinstein. Attendees had the opportunity to meet and speak with Hunger Advocacy Network members, and learn about the coalition’s priorities for the coming legislative cycle. To learn more about the Hunger Advocacy Network and its initiatives, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Here's to 2014!

Nutrition Notes: New Year, New You!

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Happy New Year! The first few weeks of January are always a time where you can never have enough Wite-Out as we train our brains to remember to write 2014 instead of 2013! New Year’s resolutions are in full swing and the top five most popular resolutions include: to lose weight, to get organized, to spend less money and save more, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to stay fit and healthy. These resolutions are all great goals although they are very broad. So instead of having similar resolutions year after year, it is time to get specific! Perhaps one of the resolutions listed below will spark a few ideas:

- Incorporate at least one fruit and vegetable in each meal

- Try one new recipe every other week (you can even try to incorporate a few vegetarian options)

- Instead of checking email at lunch or break, bring gym shoes to work and go for a 15 minute walk outside each day at work

- Go on a hike or explore a new area of San Diego once a month to stay active

By creating more concrete resolutions, it makes it easier to reach our broad goals of losing weight or staying fit and healthy year round. So start a checklist and see if you can spice up your resolutions!

Here are a few healthy recipes to help you get started! Happy 2014!

Apple Turkey Gyro

Quick Stir-Fry
(Note: You can substitute your favorite beans for the ground turkey to make this vegetarian friendly.)

Brown Rice and Black Bean Power Meal

Roasted Vegetables

Veggie Tortilla Roll-Ups

What are your new and improved resolutions? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Pumpkins are in season!

Pumpkins: Not just for carving!

by Lisa Bacon, Nonprofit Services Manager

From Pumpkin Spice Lattes to jack-o’-lanterns, it’s hard to escape the pumpkin madness that comes around each fall. Although many people are familiar with pumpkins in the form of sweet treats (think pumpkin pie!) and festive décor, not everyone is aware of the many health benefits of this versatile vegetable. The beloved orange squash is an excellent source of fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, and Vitamins A and C. Pumpkins also contain carotenoids, which are known to fight cancer, and phytosterols, which have been shown to lower cholesterol.

There are many different kinds of pumpkins, but not all of them are designed to be eaten. Sugar  pumpkins are the most common kind used in recipes, and can be found at most major grocery stores during the fall months. You can also purchase pumpkin puree in a can, but you’ll want to double check the label as many stores also sell pumpkin pie filling, which has a similar packaging but is pre-sweetened for baking.

Listed below are a few traditional pumpkin recipes, as well as a few more adventurous ways to use this healthy and seasonal veggie.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Skinny Pumpkin Pie

Low Fat Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin No Bake Energy Bites

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bars (Vegan & Gluten Free!)

Crockpot Turkey, White Bean & Pumpkin Chili

Roasted Pumpkin Sage Soup

Breakfast... the most important meal of the day!

September is also Better Breakfast Month!

by Lisa Bacon, Nonprofit Services Manager

As you know, September is nationally recognized as Hunger Action Month. But did you know that it’s also Better Breakfast Month? You’ve heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet so many of us skip this meal due to busy schedules and lack of time. Others skip it because they do not have enough food in the house. Unfortunately, skipping breakfast can have serious impacts on health and overall wellness, including poor school and work performance and weight gain.

The Food Bank works diligently to promote healthy eating, and to provide nutritious food to families who struggle to put food on the table each day. This week, among many other things, the Food Bank is distributing apples and plums to food insecure San Diegans, which are great additions to any healthy breakfast. Here are a few healthy and low maintenance breakfast recipes that are perfect for anyone on the go!

Apple Oatmeal (replace the apple juice with unsweetened vanilla almond milk for another healthy option!)

Strawberry & Mango Smoothies

Peachy Peanut Butter Pita Pockets

Frozen Waffles Topped with Greek Yogurt & Fruit (use frozen fruit or shop fresh fruit that’s in season to cut costs)

Apple & Peanut Butter Sandwich

Feel free to share any of your favorite (healthy!)breakfast options on our Facebook page.

Day of Service 2012

Second Annual Day of Service Event

by Lisa Bacon, Nonprofit Services Manager

On Wednesday, September 11th, the Food Bank will host more than twenty-five members of the United States Navy for the second annual Day of Service event. The event will begin with a few words of thanks from Jim Floros, the Food Bank’s CEO, along with a moment of silence for the lives lost twelve years ago on September 11, 2011. This will be followed by the flag salute, led by Senior Chief Wayne George. The group will then be invited to assemble food boxes for seniors enrolled in our Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

The Food Bank established the Day of Service event in September 2012 as part of Hunger Action Month. This event provides the opportunity for local military members to support the fight against hunger, while the Food Bank thanks them for their service to our country. For more information on Hunger Action Month and how to get involved, please click here.

Hunger Action Month 2013

September is Hunger Action Month!

by Lisa Bacon, Nonprofit Services Manager

September is nationally recognized as Hunger Action Month. Although the Food Bank and our nonprofit partners work diligently to relieve hunger on a daily basis, the month of September allows us to spotlight the issue of food insecurity and provide the public with tangible ways to get involved.  In San Diego County alone, more than 446,000 people are faced with food insecurity and about half of those people are children.

Each month, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank feeds nearly 320,000 people throughout the county, but there’s still more work to be done. During the month of September, we are encouraging San Diegans to spread the word about hunger in our community, and there are a number of ways you can get involved. Here are just a few ideas:

- Donate: For every dollar donated to the Food Bank, we can feed three people. Your contributions help us to serve more hungry San Diegans every month. Click here to donate online today

- Volunteer: Our volunteers are the backbone of the organization. You can volunteer with a group of people (we love office team building days!) or as an individual five days a week. Click here to sign up to volunteer online.

- Host a Food Drive: The Food Bank relies on food donations from the community to serve people in need. You can host a food drive with your office, religious organization, school, or any group of interested people! To learn more about food drives and to register, click here.

- Take the CalFresh Challenge. Stay tuned for more information on how to get involved!

- Promote the Food Bank and Hunger Action Month with social media. Like the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and make your profile picture orange (the official color of hunger) to demonstrate your support for the anti-hunger movement. Bonus points if you post pictures on Facebook from your time volunteering in our warehouse!

We hope that you will join us this September (and every month!) in the important fight against hunger.

Some of the delicious pears donated to the Food Bank.

A sweet (and healthy!) donation

by Lisa Bacon, Nonprofit Services Manager

Thanks to a generous donation from Golden State Fruit and Provide Commerce, the Food Bank was able to distribute more than 35,000 pounds of pears into the community this month. This donation is aligned with the Food Bank’s commitment to providing nutritious foods to food insecure San Diegans. Pears are an excellent source of fiber, Vitamins C and K, and potassium. And they’re tasty to boot! Here are a few healthy recipes that feature pears:

Pear Mango Salsa

Honey & Pear Oatmeal with Almonds

Easy Pear Crisp

Spinach & Pear Salad

In the last fiscal year, the Food Bank distributed more than seven million pounds of produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive in the grocery store. As such, the Food Bank makes the distribution of produce a priority, so our clients on limited incomes can have access to proper nutrition.

Do you have any favorite pear recipes? Feel free to share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Employee Spotlight: Q & A with Xavier Hernandez

Meet Xavier Hernandez, the Food Bank’s Volunteer Coordinator. Xavier is one of three project coordinators here at Food Bank warehouse. He sets up projects for volunteers, gives them a quick (but in depth) explanation of the project and provides project support. Xavier is also the project coordinator in charge of volunteer scheduling working with all of our volunteer groups (corporate, faith-based, youth, military, etc.) in setting up dates and shifts for them to come out and help. Get to know Xavier and the work of the Food Bank in our Q & A interview with him. You’ll get an insider’s look into the world of volunteering and why our volunteers are the glue that hold everything together.

Q: What inspired you to work for the nonprofit sector and the Food Bank?

A: I’ve always been inspired to work for nonprofits and I just got lucky in getting this job. It’s always been an interest of mine to help people.

Q: What does working at the Food Bank mean to you?

A: It means I have a job where I feel good when I get up in the morning and I feel good when I go to sleep, where every day I’m helping hundreds (if not thousands) of people at work.

Q: Do you have any stories of volunteers who made you realize you are in the right career field?

A: I think my experience in general with volunteers has given me that reaffirmation of “I’m in the right place.” There are people like our volunteer, Paul, who is retired and he comes about two to three times per week to help out. Everyone knows him now, because he’s such a great volunteer. Just building that rapport and relationships with different volunteers and making work friends.

Q: About how many volunteers do we see per week inside the warehouse?

A: It’s approximately 530 volunteers give or take, because sometimes people cancel or they don’t show.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for people to know about the behind-the-scenes work our volunteers do day in and day out?

A: I think it’s important, because all the work done in the warehouse is done by volunteers. If we didn’t have volunteers, there’s no way we would be cranking out the volume of food we do. We don’t have enough warehouse employees to pack the senior food boxes; we serve about 8,500 seniors every month with just that program and we need about 30 people to do that. Plus, bagging all the produce for the summer lunch program and for the agencies. Volunteers also sort cans during their shifts. Basically, nothing would get done without our volunteers and I think it’s important for people to know that these are people who are coming in on their off time. They are using their free time to come in and help out their community. I think that’s huge.

Q: Are there any requirements for volunteers and if so, what are those requirements?

A: You have to be six years or older. You also need to wear closed toes shoes and appropriate clothing, so you are ready to work. You can sign up online and then show up for your shift. Then, don’t forget those closed-toe shoes.

Q: How can someone sign up for a volunteer shift?

A: Follow the volunteer link on this website and register if you are a new volunteer (there should be a button that says “Volunteer Now”). Once you are registered, you can look at the online sign-up page and sign up for any available days. Shifts are posted monthly.

Q: What is the greatest lesson you have learned working for a nonprofit?

A: I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned for me personally is not being negative. There was a time in my life that I was pretty negative. Working here, you see all the positivity. There are a lot of positive people here; not just volunteers, but employees. Everyone is really excited to be here, everyone is really excited about the work they do and we do good work. We’re helping more than 350,000 people per month.



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