By STAFF | MobileFoodNews.com
SAN JOSE, Ca – Second Harvest Food Bank is taking its nutrition education on the road thanks to a mobile kitchen the Food Bank is using to pilot its “Nutrition on Wheels” program. Second Harvest is using the fully equipped kitchen to offer cooking demonstrations that teach people how to eat healthier.
“We want to make sure everyone has access to healthy, nutritious food,” said Janet Leader, a registered dietitian and director of Services at Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. “About half of the food we distribute is fresh produce. In addition to providing nutritious food, we also teach people how to eat healthier and cook with the produce we provide. Cooking from scratch is a great way to eat healthy and it can also stretch your food budget if you know how to shop smart. With the mobile kitchen, we can reach more people with cooking demonstrations and food tastings, which are a great way to engage people in nutrition education. We also offer tips for shopping on a budget.”
The mobile kitchen features a TV monitor located outside the truck that allows onlookers to clearly see the demonstration. It was loaned to Second Harvest Food Bank by the Fresno Community Food Bank for three weeks. Second Harvest is working to secure funding to purchase its own mobile kitchen in the near future if the pilot is successful.
“We wanted to try it out first and see how effective it is at teaching people how to cook and eat healthier,” Leader said. “We also wanted to determine how practical it is; how easy it is to drive and set up.”
So far the mobile kitchen has been a big success. Second Harvest’s team of nutritionists has been taking it to pantries and shelters as well as other sites where Second Harvest provides food, including its Brown Bag program for seniors, Family Harvest food program for families with children, and its Produce Mobile, which provides fresh produce to local families and individuals. In the first week alone, Second Harvest provided more than 500 recipes and food tastings at these sites.
The mobile kitchen is part of Second Harvest’s ongoing nutrition education program. Its team of nutritionists regularly works out in the community providing cooking demonstrations and food tastings, as well as information and tips for eating healthier. They are supported by Health Ambassadors, a specially trained group of community members who speak a variety of languages and help Second Harvest provide culturally appropriate nutrition education out in the community.
Second Harvest Food Bank produces recipe tip cards for the produce it distributes. The tip cards explain the nutritional value of the items and offer serving ideas as well as a recipe. The cards are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese.
“I’m not sure people realize that obesity goes hand in hand with hunger,” Leader said. “Produce and other healthy foods can be very expensive. Also, many of the people we serve live in food deserts where they don’t have easy access to nutritious foods. So it makes it harder for them to get the nutritious foods they need to stay healthy.”
Anyone who is struggling to put food on the table should call Second Harvest Food Bank’s Food Connection hotline at 800-984-3663 to find out about food-assistance programs near them. Second Harvest also provides application assistance for CalFresh (food stamps).
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is the trusted leader dedicated to ending local hunger. Since its inception in 1974, Second Harvest has become one of the largest food banks in the nation, providing food to an average of nearly one quarter of a million people each month. The Food Bank mobilizes individuals, companies and community partners to connect people to the nutritious food they need. Nearly half of the food distributed is fresh produce. Second Harvest also plays a leading role in promoting federal nutrition programs and educating families on how to make healthier food choices. Visit www.SHFB.org to get involved.