Bank on It: A Food Bank Blog
by John Leggio
|Former President Bill Clinton speaking at the Food Bank's 2009 Can-Do Awards Dinner; photo by Tran Dinh
Here at the Food Bank, we work to improve child nutrition because we know kids’ food choices can have lifelong health effects. Last week, at a press conference in Harlem, former President Bill Clinton said he learned that lesson the hard way.
After surgery for blocked arteries at NY Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center, President Clinton "weighed in" on the childhood obesity epidemic while speaking for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
“The root cause of this was habits that I acquired in my childhood,” Mr. Clinton, who also had a quadruple bypass operation in 2004, said.
Mr. Clinton (who spoke at our 2009 Can-Do Awards Dinner) also gave a shout-out to First Lady Michelle Obama for her “Let’s Move” campaign, which will tackle the obesity epidemic by helping families make healthy food choices, improving the quality of school food, encouraging exercise and increasing food access.
We’re working to meet similar goals through programs like CookShop, which encourages the development of healthy diets among New York City students and their families, as well as community outreach and advocacy on issues like universal school meals.
With work like ours — and similar efforts from a dynamic duo like the former president and the current first lady — maybe we can protect more children from the outcomes of poor nutrition.
by Daniel Buckley
In July, the Food Bank launched the “Change One Thing” ad campaign, aimed at encouraging healthy eating among our city’s teens. While cheap, fast junk food seems to be everywhere, there is a common perception that eating healthy requires a wholesale lifestyle change.
Our ads promote the idea that you can lead a healthier life by Changing One Thing. Craving soda? Try water today. Skip those mini doughnuts this time and grab that orange! The Food Bank is also asking all New Yorkers to take our Change One Thing pledge – and help us move toward a healthier New York.
Our summer EATWISE students are taking the lead – read what they are pledging to change in their diets below. Great ideas!
“One thing I can change is to avoid fast food and eat healthy food every day. Also I can do more exercise to be healthy in myself.”
“One thing that I could change is to stop getting fatty foods out. Now I am trying to eat health food. I think I’m changing.”
“I should eat more vegetables and less meat a day.”
“One thing I changed was to stop eating McDonald’s.”
“Change: eat more vegetables, less rice and meat. Change: run for at least 20 min every day.”
“One healthy change I’ve made recently is drinking about 80 oz of water every day.”
“I could stop eating junk food every day and eat fruit every day.”
“One thing I can change about my diet is consuming more water instead of juice and soda. One change I have already made is changing my portion size.”
“Shop at the green markets.”
“Stop drinking soda. Stop eating candy. Eat more breakfast.”
“One thing that I could change in my diet is that whenever I go to the kitchen and get a snack I should get a fruit or vegetable, instead of donuts or chips and soda.”
by Sylvia Wu
My time at EATWISE (Educated and Aware Teens Who Inspire Smart Eating) over the summer of 2008 was an experience I will never forget. I learned valuable information regarding food and nutrition, such as micro- and macronutrients, diet-related diseases and hunger and poverty. We used what we learned to conduct nutrition-education workshops for elementary school students, and volunteered at places like the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen and Senior Food Program.
In addition to teaching about good nutrition and helping provide food to other New Yorkers, we had meals of our own every Wednesday, when we learned how to make healthy, nutritious food and snacks like maple almond granola.
EATWISE made me realize my passion for food and nutrition. I made many friends who helped make this my most memorable and unforgettable experience. Through all that we have learned and accomplished in this program, I know that I want to be a dietitian. I want to spread my love of food and nutrition, and the knowledge I have gained, to others who want to eat healthier, or who struggle with their weight. I want to impact others the way EATWISE has impacted me.
by Justin Crum
As the last days of school approach, we are gearing up for our summer EATWISE Program, which provides an opportunity for students to go considerably more in-depth with the topics we cover. We received a ton of applications, and are interviewing candidates. Students will be out in the community, working with food assistance programs, urban farms, and our Community Kitchen in Harlem. Two participants from last summer, Johnathan and Andrew, described their work at the Community Kitchen as such:
|[In the Community Kitchen’s soup kitchen,] you help clean, prepare food, set up for breakfast and dinner, and after you’re done cooking, you can enjoy a meal with the other volunteers. All the produce there is fresh, and is prepared in the kitchen. Cleaning is the hardest thing but when you have help it becomes very fun.
We try to help students connect what they are learning about nutrition to real-world situations. Working directly with community groups that deal with hunger gives students a context to explore what they are learning. Cooking always proves to be a wonderful outlet for their energy (but it certainly doesn’t hurt to get their hands dirty cleaning or working in a garden). Stay tuned for blog entries about EATWISE Summer 2009 from the students themselves!
Justin Crum is the Youth Development Manager for EATWISE, the Food Bank's CookShop for Teens program.
By Daniel Buckley
Today is Brooklyn-Queens Day, a holiday known mainly for the fact that school is closed today throughout Kings and Queens counties. The holiday is so obscure that few remember what it’s for. “I’ve always felt superior because I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens,” says Jennifer Byrd, CookShop Classroom Manager. “It’s Kings and Queens county. I guess we’re just royal.”
Originating in “Rally Day” parades held by Brooklyn Sunday schools as far back as 1838, Brooklyn-Queens day was declared to be “celebrated in commemoration of the organization of Sunday schools” by a 1925 state law. Hearing this, our Community Outreach Manager, Roxanne Henry, who grew up between Jamaica (the island, not Long Island) and Brooklyn, replied “We’ll take it!”
Given the mainly forgotten origins of the holiday, we would like to take today as an opportunity to take a look at, and celebrate, Brooklyn and Queens.
Queens is the most diverse county in the US, with the biggest Peruvian, Chinese and Filipino communities in the city (to name just a few); the highest concentration of Indian- and Pakistani-Americans in the country; and a US Sikh population second only to California — and, in my opinion, NYC’s best food.
Brooklyn, the biggest and most populous of the boroughs, would be the fourth largest city in the US if it was still independent. Brooklyn has hosted the biggest battle of the American Revolution, Coney Island, Spike Lee and the irrepressible Marty Markowitz.
The Food Bank also sees a high degree of need in the two boroughs. Brooklyn has the largest number of food assistance programs. Queens has the biggest number of residents who are concerned they may need to turn to food assistance for the first time.
So whether you’re enjoying a day off, or just another excuse to praise your borough, we also hope you’ll take a moment to think of your neighbors in need.
p.s. Follow us today on Twitter to learn more about Brooklyn and Queens!
By Jesse Taylor
Emily is in her 80s and reminds me of my grandmother. While she is independent, I can see that she finds it difficult to carry the heavy, meal tray to her seat at the Community Kitchen, where I work. So I, or a volunteer, do it for her. Last night, Emily smiled and thanked me about a half dozen times. I just smiled back, grateful to be able to help.
Emily sometimes brings her six-year-old granddaughter to our soup kichen to eat with her, and she’s told me on more than one occasion how grateful she is that the Food Bank For New York City is here for her during this period of her life. Living on a fixed income of Social Security and a small pension, it’s difficult for her to meet her budget every month and without our soup kitchen, she say’s she wouldn’t be able to eat.
No one aspires to be impoverished and rely upon soup kitchen meals for day-to-day survival, let alone work their whole life to then find themselves on a food pantry line — but with the economy the way it is, there are more senior faces in the Community Kitchen's dining room than ever before. So many Emilys with nowhere to turn but the Food Bank's network of soup kitchens, senior programs and food pantries.
But for our Emily there is good news. Recently came to the Community Kitchen — this time to be enrolled in the Food Stamp Program (now known as SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). And, while I’ll miss her visits, it’s great to know that once she begins receiving food stamps, we won’t be seeing much of Emily in the Community Kitchen anymore.
By Justin Crum
EATWISE, the Food Bank’s CookShop for Teens program, recently attended and gave a workshop at The Youth Forum & Expo: Food, Farming and Active Living. Guided and planned by a multi-generational group of students, volunteers and nonprofit professionals — and co-sponsored by the Baum Forum and the NYC Food & Fitness Partnership — the event was an overwhelming success.
Most of the youth at the event were already working to make their communities safer, healthier and more productive places. And most who weren’t yet were actively searching out a way to do so. Besides the students' drive to improve themselves and their communities, I was incredibly impressed that they were all there. At a conference. On a beautiful day. During spring break.
They were there not only to find internships and jobs for the summer, but also to give presentations about the work they were already doing. They gave workshops on everything from starting farmer’s markets to starting businesses, planting to cooking and changing their own eating habits to changing the food their school serves. And their excitement was contagious.
I catch the same feeling when visiting our EATWISE chapter schools. For many people, loud high school hallways filled with groups of young people are anything but energizing — but once the students focus in on something positive, their drive and clarity can be astounding. We’re very proud to have been part of this great event, and of our EATWISE students for the passion and energy they bring to their work.
by Daniel Buckley
Finally, it seems safe to say that spring is here! The sun is coming back, it’s getting warmer and little green shoots are appearing in gardens…and our CookShop Classroom for Elementary School students are learning about how those little sprouts will grow to become food.
An important aspect of CookShop, the Food Bank’s core nutrition education program for low-income children, teens and adults, is helping participants find out where food comes from. To learn about where fruit and vegetables grow, students read letters from farmers. To learn about how they grow, they dance!
Carrie Hildebrand, CookShop Site Monitoring Coordinator and star of our “’Like’ PSA,” demonstrates the Essentials of Growth Dance. The dance is a fun way for students to visualize and remember the five things plants need to grow: sun, soil, water, air and (of course) love and care. In our Plant Life Cycle Dance, our Volunteer Services Manager and blogger Brian Pham helps our students visualize and remember the six parts of a plant – seed, roots, stem, leaves, flower and fruit – and each part’s function in the plant life cycle.
So, in honor of the new season, take a moment out of your day, take a step back from your desk or that couch, and enjoy a little dancing!
The Essentials for Growth Dance!
The Plant Life Cycle Dance!