When people think about nutrition, they often think of dieting and weight loss. Although nutrition does involve maintaining a healthy body weight, it includes so much more.
Nutrition looks at the health of the body as a whole including balanced diets, exercise, and proper hydration. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is often considered too difficult, especially for people on tight budgets who cannot afford healthy foods and gym memberships.
The Food Bank is working to overcome these misconceptions through our own Nutrition & Wellness Program and by increasing the distribution of healthy foods, especially fresh produce, to our client population.
This section of our website outlines the initiatives and programs we are implementing to educate our client population and what we are doing to increase the amount of nutritious foods we distribute to people in need in San Diego County.
National Nutrition Guide – My Plate
On June 2, 2011, a new national nutrition guide was released to the public. The food pyramid, the nutritional guide for the last twenty years, was replaced by My Plate. The goal of this change was to create a more readable diagram that provides both nutritional information and portion control guidance.
The campaign encourages people to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain, lean protein, and low or nonfat dairy products. The campaign is also a strong proponent of regular exercise. To learn more about My Plate, click here.
The Food Bank’s Nutrition Initiative
At the Food Bank, we understand the importance of good health, and we are committed to providing fresh, nutrient-dense food to people in need through all of our distribution programs. Here’s how we’re putting our commitment into action.
Healthy Options Healthy Meals
The Food Bank is one of twelve Food Banks across the country taking part in this initiative sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, the Center for Weight and Health, and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Through this initiative, the Food Bank has implemented a formal nutrition policy and an inventory ranking system that will help guide our charity partners as they make choices about the food products that stock their feeding programs.
We know that our partner charities and clients can only make healthy food choices if we provide them with healthy options. That is why the Food Bank’s nutrition policy applies to all departments within the Food Bank and is designed to guide our entire operation from food procurement to food distribution.
Choosing Healthy Options Program (CHOP)
Originally developed by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, this inventory ranking system allows our Food Bank to evaluate products for their nutritional value. After evaluation, each product is given a 1, 2, or 3 ranking. One (1) is the highest ranking a product can receive, meaning that it is of the highest nutritional value. The numerical ranking is displayed on our inventory list so that our nonprofit partners can see the nutritional value of each food item they select for their feeding programs.
Farm to Family Program
California produces more than half of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables. The Farm to Family Program connects the state’s growers and packers withfood banks to deliver fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables to families in need. Often growers and producers have ‘excess’ produce that is either dumped or plowed under, but the Farm to Family Program ‘saves’ this produce and delivers it to food banks throughout California.
Through this program, the Food Bank distributed over 8 million pounds of fresh produce this year to families in need, representing a third of our total food distribution. Our goal for the coming years is to increase the percentage of fresh produce distributed from its current level to at least 50% of the total amount of food distributed annually.
Recipe Corner – Healthy Recipes and Videos
The San Diego Food Bank and our North County Food Bank chapter are committed to providing healthy, nutritious food to the individuals and families we serve.
As part of our Nutrition Education Program, our Nutrition & Wellness Educator and her team of volunteers visit our distribution sites to teach Food Bank clients safe food handling practices and how to make nutritious meals with the food that they receive from the Food Bank.
Below are a selection of recipes featuring healthy fruits and vegetables. We encourage you to try them out yourself!