Meet Lisa Bacon, the Food Bank’s Nutrition & Nonprofit Relations Supervisor. Lisa oversees our Food To Nonprofits Program, which provides food to nearly 350 San Diego nonprofits including shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries in communities throughout the county. She is in charge of compliance, food safety, nutrition education, and capacity building for our nonprofit partners in the program. Get to know Lisa and the work of the Food Bank in our Q & A interview session with her. You’ll get a fantastic look into the world of hunger-relief and how the sector serves the San Diego community.
Q: What inspired you to work for the Food Bank and the nonprofit sector?
A: “Before graduating from college, I had no idea that I would end up in the nonprofit sector. I landed a temporary job at a local nonprofit organization right after I graduated, and fell in love with the environment. I saw the job posting for the Food Bank, and jumped at the opportunity to work at an organization with such an important mission. Luckily, my skills were a good fit for the job, and I was hired to join the team!”
Q: What does working at the Food Bank mean to you?
A: “Because I work at the Food Bank, I am able to give back to our community every day. It’s a privilege to work for an organization that not only addresses the immediate needs of low income people in our county, but also provides resources and information for long term hunger solutions. I believe strongly in the mission of the Food Bank and am proud to work for an organization that impacts so many people.”
Q: Do you have any stories of service recipients who made you realize you are in the right career field?
A: “Any time I arrive at a distribution site and see people receiving food packages or hot meals, I’m reminded of why I come to work each day. One time, during a visit to a soup kitchen, I ran into a man who had told his children that they were at the distribution to volunteer but would stay for dinner afterward to share a meal with the clients. In reality, the man had lost his job and his family needed food, but he was too ashamed to tell that to his children. With the economic downturn, many families who had never faced hunger before had to rely on the Food Bank to make ends meet each month.”
Q: Why is nutrition so important for the Food Bank to focus on?
A: “Unfortunately, low-income individuals and families are faced with many barriers when it comes to accessing healthy foods. Food deserts impact many low-income neighborhoods in San Diego County, and even if fresh food is available nearby, it’s often too expensive for people to purchase with their limited budgets. Although it seems counterintuitive, many food insecure people are also overweight or obese because of these accessibility issues. The Food Bank is working hard to address this issue through the distribution of fresh produce and nutrition information, and through CalFresh outreach. We understand that families rely on our food packages to help them through the month, and we want to ensure that we’re providing them with healthy, nourishing foods.”
Q: Why are nonprofit agencies so important to the Food Bank?
A: “Our nonprofit agencies are essential to the fulfillment of the Food Bank’s mission. These nonprofits are the hands and feet of the Food Bank around the county, and the experts on the needs within their community. We are proud to provide these nonprofit partners with food so they can extend our reach and provide ongoing support to those in need.”
Q: Why do you think it’s important for people to know about the work the Food Bank does day in and day out?
A: “Before I started working at the Food Bank, I had no idea how the organization operated. All I knew was that the Food Bank fed hungry people. And while the most basic elements of our mission are compelling, they don’t tell the whole story. They don’t mention the food drives, the hours donated by dedicated volunteers, the miles driven for deliveries by our committed warehouse team, and the investment of the entire staff in providing food to our county. I would encourage anyone who wants to learn more about the Food Bank to volunteer here! It’s a great experience that really sheds light on the operation as a whole.”
Q: How are clients with food allergies handled? And how do you know they have food allergies?
A: “Clients are encouraged to share any dietary restrictions or allergies they may have with the lead volunteer or staff member at their local distribution site. Our nonprofit partners do their best to accommodate different dietary needs with gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, nut free, and kosher items. If a client receives a food package that includes an item they cannot eat, they are asked to return the item to the volunteers at the distribution. If possible, the item would be replaced with something the client could safely eat.”
Q: Working as a nutrition educator here, what is your favorite healthy recipe?
A: “Great question! I love to cook (and eat!), so sharing healthy recipes is one of the best parts of my job. I just made these delicious and easy Honey Yogurt Berry Pops last weekend. They are the perfect summertime snack—or even breakfast, if you’re feeling adventurous! I use frozen berries to cut costs, and buy whatever Greek yogurt is on sale.”
Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and today’s national holiday celebrates that advice. Vegetables are a key part of a healthy lifestyle. The Food Bank is proud to distribute millions of pounds of fresh produce to low income neighborhoods every month. Many of these families would not otherwise have access to fresh fruits and vegetables due to their high cost and limited availability.
The average person needs between four and five servings of vegetables a day. But what is a serving? A serving of vegetables could be two small bell peppers, 12 baby carrots, 20 cherry tomatoes, or 10 broccoli florets. Unfortunately, 75% of Americans are not eating the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables. This disparity has been linked to the cost of fresh produce, the difficulty in preparing vegetables to eat, and the short shelf life of most vegetables. The Food Bank is working hard to reverse this trend, distributing over five million pounds of fresh produce throughout the county since July 1, 2012 and providing healthy recipes to teach clients how to use the produce they receive.
Although fresh is typically the best option, vegetables can also be purchased frozen or canned. Frozen and canned vegetables have a longer shelf life, making them more appealing to low income families who cannot afford to throw away food. Frozen vegetables maintain a high level of nutrition, as they are processed at the peak of freshness. Canned vegetables should be purchased in the low sodium variety, and rinsed before cooking or eating.
For more tools and information about eating healthy, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.
Here are a few of our favorite vegetable-based recipes that you can try at home:
The summer months are a critical time for hungry San Diegans. Donations to the Food Bank drop dramatically, but demand increases due to thousands of children living in poverty who stop receiving free school meals and their parents are forced to turn to the Food Bank for help.
To help the Food Bank provide food to families in need, the San Diego County Fair is hosting a food and fund drive for the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. On Tuesday, June 11 and Tuesday, June 18, Food Bank volunteers will be collecting food items at the fair’s front gates. Fairgoers are encouraged to donate nonperishable food items.
Our most needed nonperishable food items include:
- Canned meats (tuna, ham, chicken)
- Canned fruit
- Canned soup
- Canned beans
- Peanut butter
However, for those who will not be attending on one of the two days, there is another way to help feed families in need throughout the county. Throughout the entire fair season, Food Bank volunteers will be collecting monetary donations at the information booths. Those who make monetary donations will receive discounted or free “bounce-back” tickets, so they can visit the fair a second time. All proceeds from this food drive will provide meals to hungry San Diegans throughout the summer months.
We’ll see you at the fair!
In partnership with Point Loma Nazarene Univeristy’s Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, the Food Bank launched its first-ever survey of its client population. This groundbreaking survey “puts a face” on the population the Food Bank serves daily.
Point Loma Nazarene chief economist, Dr. Lynn Reaser said, “People standing in the Food Bank’s lines are working families who cannot afford to make ends meet, senior citizens forced into early retirement by the Great Recession who are living below the poverty level, and, sadly, children living in poverty who live in ‘food insecure’ homes and often do not know where they will get their next meal.”
Here are some of the highlighted findings of the study:
- A majority of households the Food Bank serves, 66%, have at least one wage earner, but cannot make enough to put food on the table.
- Over half, 55%, of the households the Food Bank serves are Hispanic and nearly one-third, 29%, is Caucasian.
- Nearly a quarter, 24%, of the seniors the Food Bank serves were forced into early retirement because of job loss.
- 46% of the households the Food Bank serves have received help from the Food Bank for less than six months.
With the vital information found through this countywide survey, the Food Bank will be better equipped to bridge the gap between it and government programs establishing community partnerships to better serve the needs of nearly 350,000 hungry San Diegans every month at 153 distribution sites throughout the County.
During Tuesday’s press conference, our CEO James Floros said, “We work over 350 nonprofit organizations every month… really bring together that community conversation to see if we can break that cycle of poverty.”
Hip Hip Hooray, today is National Bean Day!
Beans are a healthy, versatile and affordable food. High in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc, beans may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Not to mention, beans are easily stored, nonperishable, and can be prepared and enjoyed in numerous ways.
Kidney beans, black beans, white beans, red beans, pinto beans, chick peas and lentils are all great choices to add this nutritional food into your diet. Make it easy by using canned, precooked beans to eliminate the need to soak overnight and reduce cooking times. Power up recipes you already use by adding beans. Simply add beans to tacos, casseroles or stews or make chili more interesting by using several different kinds of beans.
Canned beans are one of the Food Bank’s most needed items. The prolonged economic downturn has deeply affected San Diego County. With an unemployment rate hovering around 9%, continuing job layoffs, home foreclosures and rising food and gas prices, tens of thousands of additional families and fixed-income seniors are turning to the Food Bank for help. Foods high in protein allow us to provide nutritious meals for these people in need every month.
You can help by making a food donation at our Miramar warehouse location or any of our participating drop-off sites throughout San Diego.
The holidays are always busy, and it was no different for the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. Throughout November and December of 2012 we were busy dropping off and picking up our red barrels from Vons, Stater Bros., Jerome’s, Wells Fargo, and other businesses, schools and community groups throughout San Diego county. Our warehouse was full of volunteers and trucks pulled in and out all day long delivering and distributing food. Our mailbox was stuffed with donations from generous supporters and our website saw lots of traffic. Through this generous donation of food, funds and time during our Holiday Food Drive we were able to feed thousands of San Diegans. Thank you!
But we don’t stop here, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank still has a big job to do. It’s a new year and hopefully you’ll join us in starting 2013 by continuing to fill our red barrels, volunteering your time and donating funds. The holidays may be over, but hunger knows no season.
Last week PIA Ingredients, a specialty food supplier based in Oceanside, donated 126,000 pounds of garbanzo beans to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. The donation comes just in time for the holidays with the Food Bank feeding record numbers. The donation will be distributed to the Food Bank’s 350 nonprofit distribution partners with feeding programs. These organizations include soup kitchens, homeless shelters, low-income day care centers, low-income senior centers, rehabilitation centers and food pantries. The pre-cooked beans are packaged in restaurant-size 10-pound sealed metallic bags which are ideal for hunger-relief organizations with kitchens that serve large numbers of people in need.
The donation also falls in line with the Food Bank’s pursuit of healthy initiatives. Garbanzo beans are low in fat and cholesterol and are an excellent source of protein and dietary fiber. They are also a helpful source of zinc, folate and magnesium.
On hand that day was Gabriel Perez Krieb, managing director of PIA Ingredients Corp. He joined the Food Bank staff in unloading the donation and hapilly tried all of the products created by our CalFresh Coordinator, Liz, during her cooking demonstration. He spoke to volunteers, our hunger-relief partners, Food Bank staff and the press, “PIA Ingredients is proud to support the Food Bank and the local community with this donation. The Food Bank is currently feeding record numbers through its hunger-relief programs and we know that the Food Bank will be able to use this donation of nutrient-rich food to supplement the diets of the individuals and families it serves.”
Marla Feldman, program director of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, an organization that is a leading supporter of the Food Bank’s long-term nutrition strategy through its Healthy Options, Healthy Meals™ (HOHM) initiative, said, “We’re so proud of the progress the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank has made as part of their participation in HOHM. By securing this healthy donation, they are actively demonstrating their commitment to the cultural and organizational changes they’ve made, as well as to the paradigm shift towards promoting the health and wellness of the communities they serve.“
The Food Bank is incredibly grateful to PIA Ingredients for this amazing donation. Garbanzo beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber and will complement meals that are prepared by our nonprofit partners with hunger-relief programs in soup kitchens and homeless shelters. This will help the Food Bank provide additional food to individuals and families in need this holiday season and into the New Year when our donations drop significantly, THANK YOU!
Want to try one of Liz’s Recipes? Click here.
Packed with soluble fiber and healthy carbohydrates, oatmeal has a number of key health benefits. From curbing appetite to reducing cholesterol, eating more oatmeal is a simple way to boost health. Even the FDA has approved oatmeal as a heart-healthy food. Knowing this, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank offers oatmeal in many of our distributions throughout the county. Our partner agencies are also able to pickup bulk oatmeal from our Nonprofit Food Center for use at their feeding sites all over San Diego.
However, despite its health benefits, oatmeal doesn’t have the best of reputations. It’s easy to be turned off by the idea of plain old oats in a bowl. But, there are lots of different ways you can use this superfood. It’s works well in cookies, granola, even on top of your baked berry dessert. Since today is National Oatmeal Muffin Day, we thought we’d share a recipe that allows you to add a little extra health boost to your morning meal.
These muffins are easy to make. They’re excellent served warm for breakfast and they’re also perfect for a quick and filling snack on the go!
- 1 c. flour
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 c. oats, quick or old-fashioned, uncooked
- 1 T. baking powder
- 1/2 t. salt
- 3 T. vegetable oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 c. nonfat milk
Sift into bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir in the oats. Add vegetable oil, beaten egg, and nonfat milk. Stir only until dry ingredients are just moistened. Fill greased, medium-sized muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes. Serve hot. Makes a dozen.
Variation: Add 1/2 c. raisins, chopped dates or nuts
The Kindergarten classes at Redeemer by the Sea recently held a volunteer food and fund drive at their school in Carlsbad, CA. Under the guidance of their Director, Cindy Brown, the students collected money, backpacks and child friendly non-perishable food. On Novemer 14th all 40 students traveled down to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego warehouse to present a total donation of $650, 50 backpacks and aproximately 1,000 pounds of food!
During their visit Food Bank staff took all 40 children and their chaperones on a tour of the warehouse. Despite their young age these bright kids were full of great questions about how the Food Bank feeds people, where we get food from and how our equipment works. Some children are shocked at the number of families and children at risk of hunger and others express gratefulness for what they have and understand the need to share. At the conclusion of their tour one young boy even offered up the change from his pocket so we could “get more food.”
All the children agreed that they had fun collecting food and they would come back to volunteer in the warehouse with their mom or dad as soon as they were six years old. As demonstrated by some of our youngest supporters, volunteering starts early and makes you feel great no matter how old you are.
If you are interested in donating your time and helping feed people in need, please click here.
This December, the Busalacchi Family is teaming up with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank to make the holidays special for everyone by collecting nonperishable food at all six of their San Diego restaurant locations.
They’re not just taking your donations though; they’ve got a gift for you too! Now through December 31, 2012 everyone who brings three nonperishable food items to any of the Busalacchi restaurants will receive the following discounts:
Po Pazzo – Receive the appetizer of the day (chef’s choice)
1917 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Zia’s Bistro – Receive 50% off any bottle of wine or entree
1845 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Receive 20% off your next dining experience at:
1735 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101
1731 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101
3707 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103
866 Eastlake Parkway, Chula Vista, CA 91914
Thanks to the Busalacchi Family for making the holidays special for everyone, especially our neighbors in need!