On a weekly basis, you can find Chef Terah Barrios, Nutrition Educator at Second Harvest, at one of our many partner feeding programs. Chef Terah takes nutrition and cooking education out to the community where hungry families are being served.
What kind of work are you doing with the partner feeding programs?
I get the opportunity to work with families, single adults, seniors and just about anyone who is served through our partner feeding programs. I take nutrition and cooking education to clients while food is being distributed in their communities. I often share recipes utilizing fresh produce or items that Second Harvest has in abundance. Along with the recipe, I give clients a sample that they can taste.
Many of the clients served have diet-related health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. For this reason, I also share diet-related health information. I get to personally speak with many individuals while they wait for food. I hear their stories, their challenges and even their successes as many of them are returning for food.
What are some of your favorite moments over the last few years?
I’ve had so many good moments, but my favorite would have to be the time I shared The World’s Best Potato Salad recipe. Another chef I was working with was somewhat skeptical about the title. We had a mobile drop scheduled that day and were expecting 400 people. While I was setting up my table at the distribution site a woman came running towards me. She said, “Potato Salad Lady, Potato Salad Lady!” She grabbed me and hugged me and told everyone around the table that they had to make the potato salad recipe because it is “the best potato salad in the world.” The chef with me just smiled; he was stunned.
Moments like these remind that even the smallest gestures can have a big impact in the lives of those we’re serving. I know every recipe I give out isn’t tried at home by the clients, but more often than not, when I see returning clients, they thank me and tell me they tried making one of the recipes. It’s not uncommon for them to share the positive efforts they’ve made since the last time they saw me—activities like walking more, not skipping their medication, trying to eat more vegetables and such.
What challenges do you continue to see the agencies and clients facing?
The population we serve is interested in being healthier. They appreciate any information that we can provide. With more resources and more staff, more people can be reached. I think our agencies try their best to distribute more nutritious food to their clients, and appreciate the support that SHFB provides through our agency benefits program. There’s still a lot of work to do. Slowly but surely, as we unite together—community partners and funders with our feeding programs and their clients—change will happen.