National Nutrition Month is only a month long, but year-round Second Harvest is working very hard to make nutrition a priority at our food bank. Over the last year a lot has occurred behind the scenes. We’ve formed a nutrition committee, action teams, and organized a strategic planning workshop. We’ve also developed a nutrition position statement to help guide our food procurement decisions.
Take a few moments to read an interview with Dr. Ted Hamilton, Chair of our Nutrition Committee. Dr. Hamilton is Vice President of Medical Mission for Adventist Health System and serves on the Board of Directors for Second Harvest.
How did you get involved working with the nutrition committee?
I was newly appointed to the Second Harvest Board when Dave Krepcho approached me about the opportunity to work with a great group of people to consider our approach to nutritional aspects of addressing hunger in the communities we serve. It was a new idea for me, one that I had not seriously thought about previously. It raises interesting questions regarding the role of Second Harvest in working at the intersection of hunger and nutrition.
Why is food banking and nutrition important to you?
My father grew up in the Florida panhandle during the Great Depression. His father died in 1929 when Dad was six years old. His mother and two younger brothers struggled to scrape together a few coins to buy enough corn meal for one corn cake apiece, often the only meal of the day. I’ve never known real hunger, but I know that many people would be as hungry as my dad if it weren’t for Second Harvest. But we can do better than plain corn meal. We have the opportunity to provide nutritious foods that will do more than assuage hunger, but provide balanced nutrients for growth and strength and energy.
What are the goals of the nutrition committee?
Our vision is that by 2015, Second Harvest Food Bank will be widely recognized as a national pacesetter in food banking, positively influencing food culture and impacting community health by incorporating best nutrition practices into our core business through innovation, collaboration, education, research, and day-to-day operations. That’s an audacious goal, but we believe that it is attainable. It will require us to address all aspects of our operation, including food quality and sourcing, staff and volunteer development, agency capacity, and nutrition education and support.
What has the nutrition committee been working on?
We have developed and received Board approval of an overall position statement that is built around four guiding principles, namely that all types of food can fit in a balanced diet; individuals exercise choice in food selection; we accept all donated foods; and we encourage healthy choices.
We sponsored a two-day intensive workshop involving national experts and leaders in food banking and nutrition. The product was a broad plan that provides a road map for the work ahead.
We have formed four action teams comprised of local and regional partners who will provide the knowledge, expertise, experience, and energy to achieve our goals. It is exciting work. We believe that we can make a significant impact on hunger and nutrition locally, regionally, and nationally.
We are thankful for Ted’s leadership and commitment to nutrition and our food bank. We look forward to impacting our community’s health in greater ways in the years to come.
Maria Ali, RD, LD/N