The San Diego Food Bank's new Virtual Food Drive platform has already yielded more than 301k meals!

Thankful Thursday: Friendly Competition Drives Local Company’s Virtual Food Drive Well Beyond Its Goal!

by Michael Minjares, Grant Manager’s Company Culture Committee set a modest goal of $150 for its recent Holiday Food Drive to support the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. Giving back to the community in which it works is a core company value and the food drive provided a great way to give back. But thanks to a little friendly competition and fun incentives, the local business soared beyond its initial goal finishing its drive with more than $1,980 in donations of cash and food.

“Everyone here was all for it,” shared Darrion Bernaldes, a marketing specialist for and member of the Company Culture Committee. “Like a lot of people, I was really surprised with the level of participation. Our committee received several emails from our coworkers saying how much they liked this charitable opportunity. It was well received.”

According to Bernaldes, the Virtual Food Drive element of the competition was easy and quick to set up. A Virtual Food Drive is an online platform that allows individuals and groups to help the Food Bank purchase nutritious food products by making financial contributions safely and easily online. The group worked with the Food Bank’s Development Associate Grace Harrison to customize its online donation platform.

“Grace was great to work with,” Bernaldes said. “We asked a few questions, sent in our logo and we were good to go.”

Once the Virtual Food Drive platform was set, organized a competition by dividing its 140 employees into teams. As an incentive to encourage participation, company executives committed to purchase lunch for the members of the winning team. Both food donations and cash contributions counted toward a team’s total. Bernaldes said the competition aspect was a key motivator for many of his coworkers to be generous and participate.

The success of’s Holiday Food Drive has been mirrored by many other organizations. In fact, more than 100 virtual food drives have taken place on behalf of the San Diego Food Bank this fall and winter. The new, customizable platform makes it easy to set up, track and personalize a virtual food campaign. The new platform has been a hit with organizations big and small.

“I have heard nothing but positive feedback about our new platform,” said Robin Skale, the Food Bank’s Food Procurement Coordinator. “It’s very easy and user-friendly. The individual company’s branding displayed on the webpage helps donors feel safe and secure about providing credit card information. The groups I’ve spoken with are also motivated when they learn that for every dollar donated the equivalent of five meals is provided to low-income community members.”

The Food Bank sends a heartfelt “Thankful Thursday” thank you to and its employees for providing nearly 10,000 meals to San Diegans in need!

We would also like to send this same sincere sentiment to all the organizations and individuals who have arranged or participated in a Virtual Food Drive in 2015. Your willingness to help our neighbors in need continues to inspire our work and makes a significant and positive impact right here in our community.

If you or your group would like to set up a virtual food drive – the opportunity exists all year long, not only during the holidays. For more details contact Grace Harrison at or at 858 – 863-5130.

Special thank you to the individuals, companies, schools and community groups listed below that have hosted a Virtual Food Drive for the San Diego Food Bank!

Together, they have raised a collective 309,800 meals so far! Wow!

Applied Data Finance

Audi San Diego

Babes and Brews

The Berries

Beta Nu Sigma


Charlie Glass

Cibus US, LLC

Cloud9 Real Time

Cooley, LLP

CUSO Financial

Delivered Dish

Desk Hub

DPR Construction

Erika Ulring

Fish & Richardson

Folio Design

Gage Elementary School, PTA

Girlfriends Care

Hairstylist Lolita

Highrank Gives Back

HM Electronics, Inc.

Homes Media Solutions

Jerabek Elementary School

Johnson and Wood Insurance

Julie Nguyen

Kaiser Permanente, La Mesa Medical Offices

Kaiser Permanente, CSC

Kforce Staffing & Solutions


La Jolla Pharmaceutical

Land Rover San Diego

Liana and Isabel Puga

Lions International, San Diego TFC

North County A/E/C Industry

Old Aztecs Rugby Club

Otay Water District

Paul Hastings, LLP

Point Loma Nazarene University

Porsche San Diego

Precision Diagnostics



San Diego Association of Diabetes Educators

San Diego Penn State Alumni Association

San Diego State University

San Diego State University, ROTC DET 75

San Diego Superior Court

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Santacon 2015

Savory Group

Scripps Research Institute

Scripps Research Institute, The Peter G. Schultz Laboratory


Sequenom, Inc.

Upper Deck


Verint Systems, Inc.


Vigor Systems, Inc.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Advisors


Volunteers from Bill Howe Plumbing make giving back a family affair!

Volunteer Spotlight: Bill Howe Plumbing

by Cristina Sierra, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

Bill Howe is an amazing company that dedicates community service to the San Diego Food Bank. They volunteer with us every month bringing in 30 to 50 volunteers each time! Amber Baynard, an employee of Bill Howe absolutely loves volunteering with her company at the Food Bank. Bill Howe has consistently volunteered with the Food Bank for six years! I asked Baynard if she could provide any advice for companies who might be considering building a volunteer team for their companies, and Baynard had some really great advice.

“Dedication takes time; do not get discouraged. It took Bill Howe six years to get its turn out and keep it consistent. Get t-shirts made, build a team, make or bring food to the event, and then follow up with everyone to see how well the volunteer event went,” Baynard said. (What great advice indeed, Baynard!)

For those companies interested in volunteering at the San Diego Food Bank, we encourage you to take Baynard’s advice, and also remember it starts with the kindness of our hearts.

Many San Diegans face the threat of hunger every single day, and the San Diego Food Bank is truly at the forefront serving those who are considered food insecure. According to the USDA, food insecurity is defined as multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake. One in six people living in San Diego are food insecure, which means the individual, might not know where their next meal will come from or when they will eat again.

Companies like Bill Howe help inspect, sort and package food for individuals and families in need. The Food Bank serves 400,000 individuals and families each month. If you can imagine a full house at Qualcomm Stadium, its seat capacity is 71,500. Now, envision six Qualcomm stadiums filled with hungry individuals and families – that is the amount of folks the San Diego Food Bank feeds on a monthly basis. The Food Bank simply could not serve on such a grand scale without the help of volunteers. Volunteers are the force behind our mission to fight hunger and feed hope. Groups like Bill Howe seriously contribute many hours and efforts to accomplish our vision of a hunger-free San Diego. Thank you Bill Howe! See you next month!

Thank you to all restaurants who participated!

Thankful Thursday: Dollar-A-Dish

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

School children living in poverty who face the threat of hunger daily will receive weekly backpacks of nutritious food thanks to the support of local restaurants, their patrons and the Dollar-A-Dish campaign.

This year’s successful fundraising effort saw 31 restaurants participate raising thousands of dollars for the Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Backpack Program, a school-based activity that provides a backpack of child-friendly, nutritious food to students who oftentimes go hungry over the weekend when school meals are unavailable.

The Dollar-A-Dish campaign took place during the month of August, and saw restaurants donate $1 every time a designated signature dish was ordered. Additionally, restaurant patrons also made direct donations as part of this campaign. In total, the culinary-themed campaign raised $19,688, enough to provide weekly backpacks of food to nearly 100 school children living in poverty in communities throughout San Diego County for an entire year.

The Food Bank sends a “Thankful Thursday” thank you to the 31 participating restaurants and Sysco for their support. Additionally, a big “THANK YOU” goes to Jan Borkum, of the San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association, for all of her work in organizing and heading up this year’s event. Your support and involvement make a positive impact on thousands of families right here in San Diego.

Dollar-A-Dish Restaurant Participants Included:

100 Wines
Bali Hai Restaurant
Bernini’s Bistro
Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
Busalacchi’s a Modo Mio
Café Coyote
Café Japengo
Carnitas’ Snack Shack
Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop
Cucina Enoteca Del Mar
Cucina Urbana
D Bar Restaurant
Indigo Grill
Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge
OB Warehouse
The Blind Burro
The Patio on Goldfinch
The Patio on Lamont
The Red Door
The Smoking Goat
The Swell Café
The Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge
Tom Ham’s Lighthouse
URBN Coal Fired Pizza – El Cajon
URBN Coal Fired Pizza – Encinitas
URBN Coal Fired Pizza – North Park
Village Pizzeria- Orange Ave

Weekly Scoop Pic Nov. 30

Yummy foods, Tennis shoes

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

I’m sure this is not news to anyone, but some of the tastiest holiday foods tend to be the highest in calories.

I know. I’m sad about that too. If you’re like me, you may have tried to make your dishes a little healthier. But as soon as you alter Nana’s recipe, your family kicks you out of the house for messing with tradition. Also… no matter how hard I try, I can’t escape the call for a second helping of my sister’s corn pudding. What to do, what to do!

It’s ok to indulge a little bit during the holiday season but you want to make sure you’re not over indulging. If you decide to double up on your dessert plate, maybe try to do a little more exercise than normal.

You’re eating extra energy (calories) so use up that extra energy through physical activity. I’m not talking about running a marathon after holiday gatherings. Start small! Here are some examples of easy activities to burn about 100 calories (a.k.a. 1 roll with butter):

• Walking stairs for 11 minutes
• Bike for 23 minutes of casual cycling
• Play basketball, shooting hoops, for 20 minutes
• Dance around the living room for 20 minutes
• Shop for 38 minutes
• Walk the dog for 26 minutes
• Carry an infant for 24 minutes

Click here for more ideas! 

It’s all about balance. Calories in calories out. After yummy foods, grab your tennis shoes! Get a game of football going in the front yard, make up a family dance to a recent song, or take a stroll around the block.

What are ways you stay healthy during the holidays?

Holiday meals can be delicious and healthy at the same time!

Nutrition Notes: Healthy Holiday Cooking

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

As hard as it is to believe, the holidays are creeping right back up on us! Not only is Thanksgiving right around the corner, but so are the temptations of delicious and savory holiday comfort foods. The festivities involved in the holiday season are usually centered around eating a ton of delicious food—the latter of which can ultimately pose a big problem for everyone looking to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight.

That is why I have put together a list of healthy tips that will help you combat the excess calories, temptations, and weight gain that typically come along with the holiday season!

6 Simple Tips to Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking

1. Skim the Fat – Once your delicious homemade gravy has been made, refrigerate it to harden the fat. This will make it easy to skim the fat right off the top and save you a whopping 55 grams of fat. That’s almost 500 calories per cup of gravy!

2. Enjoy Skinless Turkey – Enjoy delicious turkey breast by omitting the skin of the turkey, which can save up to 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz. serving – that translates into almost 100 calories per serving!

3. Use Skim Milk in Mashed Potatoes – Using skim milk instead of whole milk and butter will save dramatically on the amount of fat present which in turn will save you calories! The addition of garlic powder, low-sodium seasoning, and Parmesan cheese will help provide a tastier bowl of mashed potatoes while leaving you guilt-free!

4. Homemade Holiday Nog – Because the holidays are just not the same without some delicious nog! Make your own holiday egg nog using 1.5 cups of skim or soy milk, four bananas, 1.5 cups plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients together except the nutmeg. Puree until smooth, and top with nutmeg.

5. Low-Calorie Vegetable Casserole – Bake fresh or frozen green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. Top with low-sodium and reduced fat cream of mushroom soup and sprinkle with slivered almonds instead of fried onion rings.

6. Make a Crustless Pie – Use crushed gram crackers rather than a whole pie crust. Additionally, substitute 2 egg whites for a whole egg in your pie recipe and replace the heavy cream for low-fat milk in order to cut on fat, carbs, and total calories.

Berries aren't the only foods chock-full of antioxidants!

Nutrition Notes: Gotta Love Those Antioxidants!

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

We’ve all heard the hype associated with antioxidants, but have you ever wondered what an antioxidant really is, and just why it is so significant? Antioxidants work to protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are typically formed when your body breaks down foods, as well as with increased exposure to tobacco smoke.

Studies have found that consuming a diet rich in antioxidants from natural food sources can prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. So just how can you ensure that you are consuming enough of this powerful and extremely vital substance? Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will provide you with adequate amounts of Vitamins A, C, E and Selenium, which are all natural antioxidants.

For more information on how to add antioxidant-rich foods to your daily diet check out the recommendations below!

• Consume a wide variety of both fruits & vegetables.
• Add legumes (beans, nuts, peas, lentils) to salads, pastas, and other dishes.
• Replace snacks such as chips and cookies for nuts.
• Incorporate various herbs & spices in meals (basil, cilantro, oregano, etc).
• Fill your plate with color, to ensure variety of plant based foods.
• Avoid tobacco products.

Click here to learn more about antioxidants.

The group of students and staff stopped to take a photo celebrating their hours of community service at the San Diego Food Bank.

Volunteer Spotlight: St. Charles Borromeo Academy

by Cristina Sierra, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

For the past twenty years, students at the St. Charles Borromeo Academy, grades kindergarten through eighth grade, have come to our distribution center each month to volunteer their time, which makes them a very special group to us! Twenty years? Amazing!

The Academy requires their studentsto learn about the importance of community service. Through their requirement, the children learn amazing skills such as team-building, the importance of service, team-buddy systems and mentorships.

We recently had the privilege of hosting the 6th grade class of St. Charles Borromeo Academy. The children were delighted to give their time to the Food Bank and had lots of fun working together as a class. Mrs. Goncalves-Paine, the teacher of the 6th grade class, shared her wonderful story about the children and the program.

“We like to inspire and motivate the children about community service.  I came to this school as a child and even volunteered my time with the Food Bank, so we have an outstanding legacy,” Goncalves-Paine said.

A legacy they absolutely have. The Academy shows their appreciation for their students by having a volunteer appreciation event for their students at their monthly assemblies. One student was so excited when I was talking pictures of his group, he asked if his class would get pizza for volunteering that day.

Twenty years of community service is amazing and we are so grateful for the parents, teachers, and students who are involved each month. The children were so inspiring, and I am grateful that I was able to meet all the children.

Cold season is upon us! Learn the immune boosting power of healthy eating below

Nutrition Notes: Immune Boosting Power of Healthy Eating

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

Cue the Clorox wipes, the elbow sneezes, and runny noses… cold and flu season is almost here. While washing your hands is the first line of defense, did you know your body has its own built in defense method? Your immune system!

Good, healthy, nutritious foods can help boost your immune system and may offer protection from infection. Consider adding nutrients like Protein, Zinc, prebiotics, probiotics, and essential vitamins to the toolbox of wellness your body needs.

1. Protein-rich foods help build your defense mechanisms like your skin and muscles. Fill ¼ of your plate with lean proteins like poultry, nuts, seeds, beans, and eggs at each meal.

2. Zinc is the healing mineral. Foods rich in zinc include lean meats, seafoods, poultry, and fortified cereals. Because zinc is more readily available in animal proteins, vegetarian eaters might need up to 50% more zinc than non-vegetarians. Find out more by clicking here.

3. Prebiotics and probiotics are intestinal health power tools. Prebiotics are components of food that provide fuel for probiotics, or good gut bacteria. Together, prebiotics and probiotics help balance your intestines and help with your overall heath. Prebiotics are found in onions, garlic, whole wheat foods, and bananas. Probiotics are typically found in fermented foods like kefir products, aged cheese, and sauerkraut.

4. Vitamins A, C, and E help maintain our tissues, antibodies, and antioxidants. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors will give you your daily dose of Vitamins A and C. For Vitamin E, aim to add seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils to your meals.

Take that flu! Prepare your body’s immune system by eating healthy, nutritious meals all year round!

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!

Page 5 of 143456710