Nutrition Talks ProgramCommunity

More Than Just A Meal: Food Finders Nutrition Talks Program

Have you ever wondered what healthy eating looks like for the 38 million Americans currently facing food insecurity?

Nutrition Talks Cooking Demo image 1
Low Carb Burrito Bowl for Jamboree Residents

In response to SB1383, food recovery and donation programs are in full swing, in an effort to reduce organic waste. As more and more grocery stores, schools, and other food generators scramble to establish their food donation programs, nonprofits gather to secure more resources to feed their communities. Food Finders is addressing food scarcity through programs that go beyond providing a meal for a moment or a day. Through our Nutrition Talks program, we are working directly with food insecure individuals to provide nutritional education and resources to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent further organic waste.

More Than Reducing Hunger

Recovery Community Cares Fridge

Our Nutrition Talks Program, co-created and led by our Nutrition Education intern, Kelly Alarcon is available to any one of our nonprofit partners, free of cost. Kelly is in her third year at Cal State University Long Beach, studying Nutrition & Dietetics. Kelly has been leading Nutrition Talks since the start of 2022 and agrees that “securing food is crucial but the need does not end there.” Together, Kelly and I have presented our educational program to several nonprofit partners ranging from sober living residentials to affordable housing organizations. It is evident that more can and should be done in the fight to reduce hunger.

Providing individuals who experience food scarcity with tools to better understand their health and eating habits, we have been able to better assess the impact rescued food has on nutrition, lifestyle, and sustainability practices. In addition to education, we offer tips for healthy eating on a budget and have even added a cooking demo component that works to put those healthy habits into practice. 

Community Education

Nutrition Facts Label Workshop

Although our talks aim to highlight the benefits of choosing fruit and vegetables over chips and cookies, many emergency relief boxes and grocery store donations do not offer the kind of fresh and nutritionally dense foods that would be optimal for making better choices. For this reason, our presentations are designed to give our partners and their residents the opportunity to bring their questions and concerns about food donation quality and recovery practices into an open forum for discussion.

Q & As

During one of our Q&As, we received inspiring feedback from a resident of our nonprofit partner, Recovery Community Cares who implored food generators donating to please, “give from your hearts and give a donation of quality and dignity.” We would like to thank our partners who have already donated with this message in mind. Whether it be food, resources, your time, or financial contribution, every bit counts towards reducing hunger and environmental waste. To every partner of ours who has welcomed our Nutrition Talks into their programming, we want to thank you for providing more for your clients. 

Special thanks to our partners Recovery Community Cares, Delancey Street Foundation, Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Jamboree Housing CorporationFontana-Sierra Fountains & Ceres Way, and Steph House Recovery

Information

The Nutrition Talks Program is something that we are very proud of at Food Finders. Part of our mission is to improve nutrition in food insecure communities and this program is one way that we can provide more than just a meal.

For more information on how to become a donor, volunteer, or funder, please visit the following links: 

For volunteer opportunities, contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Kevin Burciaga (562) 283-1400 Ext. 112

To become a food donor, contact any member of our Food Acquisitions Team, Mark Eden (Ext. 117) and Tray Turner (Ext. 105) (562) 283-1400

To join our Share Table, please contact our Fund Development Director, Lisa Hoffmaster (562) 283-1400 (Ext. 103)

If you are a Non-profit operating in Southern California and would like to host a Nutritional Talk you must be a registered nonprofit and partner with Food Finders, Inc. For more information please contact Isabel Gallegos, at (562) 283-1400 Ext. 111

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Isabel Gallegos, Partner Agency Manager and has worked in the community to help others gain access to rights and tools to reach their highest potential. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Casa Youth ShelterCommunity

Our Community Partner Casa Youth Shelter

On any given day in the U.S., thousands of teens go homeless and hungry. Too often, youth reach a breaking point, unable to face another day of school bullying, parental abuse, stress–or hunger. Yet when we think of homeless people, our minds often form the image of an older male adult curled up on a sidewalk or a park bench. Shockingly, 34% of homeless people in the U.S. are actually under 24 years of age. This is why Casa Youth Shelter right here in our own community is such a significant, often lifesaving, resource.

The shelter houses 12 youth (aged 12 to 17) when at capacity, and in addition to offering a safe harbor and hot meals, they provide group activities, peer interaction, and counseling services for both the youth and parents. Ideally, after spending time at the shelter, the residents return to their families or move on to a safe, crisis-free living situation. While at the shelter they are on a temporary break from school, focusing on improving their situation and receiving the help they need. Some former residents continue with counseling services, and the services are offered remotely to nonresidents as well.

Recently, there has been a change in the typical resident profile, according to Josue Montenegro, a 7-year staff member. Many of the youth seeking safe harbor are transgender and have been rejected, bullied, and abused by family and friends. For them particularly, a place to find support and to reset is essential. And it comes as no surprise that in this past year during the pandemic, teen depression and anxiety have skyrocketed, so Casa Youth has been an invaluable haven.

Food Rescue Helps Homeless With Meals

Food Finders has been partnered with the shelter for 20 years and donates wholesome food twice a week. The staff prepares meals, sometimes engaging and teaching the residents cooking skills, and generally ensures that everyone receives a healthy meal. Any excess donated food is made available via an onsite pantry, free to area families or youth in need.

Food Finders is so grateful to count Casa Youth Shelter as one of our many partners that help serve our local communities. Thank you for all you do!

Updated Study on Homeless by the Chamber of Commerce

Read more about homelessness: https://www.chamberofcommerce.org/homelessness-in-america/

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

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Community

Food Hub in Long Beach Opens

How do you find fresh fruits and vegetables in a “food desert”?

  1. “an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.”

The solution is that Food Finders raises the necessary funds to put a Food Hub in a community that needs fresh produce to eat more nutritious meals.

Saturday, April 30th our first Food Hub in Long Beach had its grand opening. We are excited and proud to partner with so many wonderful community partners to make this happen

Inside the refrigerated Food Hub at Admiral Kidd Park in Long Beach
Fresh Fruits and veggies along with packed non-perishable foods for our community partners.
Celebrating the Food Finders Food Hub in Long Beach
Founder, Arlene Mercer (2nd R) celebrating our Food Hub Grand Opening

Read More in the Long Beach Post.

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Community

Girl Scout Troop 2863: Making A Difference

The Girl Scouts Bronze Award

According to the Girl Scouts: When a troop goes for the Bronze Award, they are representing what Girl Scouts can achieve in their communities. And it’s not just earning a patch and its done!

Earning the Girl Scout Bronze Award involves planning, commitment and the time to complete an Impact Journey in their community. They must build a team; explore their community; choose a project that will have a longer term impact; plan what to do; put that plan into motion; and then spread the word about what they are doing!

They will be out in the community talking about their program, progress and the impact of their volunteering long into the future.

Troop 2863 from Long Beach has chosen Food Finder’s Food 4 Kids Program as their Bronze Award project. Prior to COVID, the Food 4 Kids Program was delivering 385 bags of food every week to 15 Title 1 Long Beach Elementary Schools. In many cases, these bags of food provided families with their only weekend food option.

Starting the Food 4 Kids program back up is exciting for Food Finders because the program was halted during COVID. With the Girl Scouts here to help pack the bags of food, and then deliver them to the schools we are able to get the Food 4 Kids bags out of the warehouse and into the hands of families faster. Groups like the Girl Scouts can help us to fill the need for volunteers needed in the early afternoon hours. Many volunteers can only come early in the morning or late in the day but these bags of food need to be delivered just before school lets out on Friday–just in time for school kids heading home for the weekend.

What Is A Title 1 School?

According to the Department of Education a Title 1 School is: a school in which children from low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment and are eligible to use Title I funds to operate schoolwide programs that serve all children in the school in order to raise the achievement of the lowest-achieving students. For the city of Long Beach, Title 1 students are about 85% of enrollment!

Providing meals for the weekend is critical to the learning of children when they return to class on Monday. One of the site directors at Lincoln Elementary told us: “We noticed that bringing this partnership to our site brought our families closer to the program. It created a better school climate where families felt cared for and considered outside their child’s academics. Families’ well-being and needs became attended to and the responses (to picking up the bags) showed great need.”

Hunger Impacts Learning

The consequences of going hungry on a child are long term. We already know that hunger curbs a child’s physical development but did you know that it also inhibits their ability to focus and perform in class? If children cannot learn how can they have any hope of lifting themselves out of poverty?

The Food 4 Kids Program is an opportunity for all of us to give a child a helping hand somewhere in the future. This is the key to the Bronze Award program Troop 2863 is working on right now. If they can pack and sort, and then deliver food to kids in their own community, then those kids have a better chance of learning more in school. If they learn more their opportunities in life are increased. Everyone benefits!

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” (Sally Koch)

As Girl Scouts, these girls in Troop 2863 know that they will earn this Bronze award with courage,
confidence, and character because this work to help kids in food-insecure communities is a small act of kindness that will make a big difference in the world they are growing up into!

#GirlScouts #FoodFindersInc #Food4Kids

If you would like to volunteer at Food Finders please contact Kevin Burciaga kburciaga@foodfinders.org or learn more

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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never-doubt-your-impactCommunity

Never Doubt Your Impact

There are many ways to make an impact on the world. Unfortunately, with all the messages being thrown at us via TV and social media, we begin to think that what we do as an individual isn’t that important.

At Food Finders, we can absolutely, without any reservations, tell you that one person can make a huge impact when working alongside others who believe in the same mission. For 33 years, this organization has been growing. From one idea, in one garage, with one woman who shared her mission with others. That power of one–with your help–fed thousands of families this month.

Arlene Mercer, founder of Food Finders

Think About the Entire Process Behind Our Mission

Eliminating Food Waste.
First, you must find places where food is being discarded–close to expiration date, or bruised apples for example. Then there must be a place to bring the food. It must be a place that can store or redistribute the food before it really goes bad. Once located, then there must be people in place who can pick up the food and deliver it. And finally, someone must be on the receiving end when that delivery arrives. It is all coordinated and ready to repeat Monday through Friday–week in and week out!

Food Donors: With Food Finders as their partner, Food donors are given an option to have someone come in and take food that would be thrown out, and now can be repurposed through donation elsewhere. By not throwing food away, our landfills are reduced, and then our C02 emissions begin to fall–which will impact us and future generations.

Community Partners: These are local non-profits that can take food donations. Food Finders works to find committed and caring organizations that work every day to eliminate hunger. Food Finders found the food and the means to deliver it. These partners are now reaching out to distribute this food allowing people in food-insecure communities to gather at home and prepare a nutritious meal for their families.

So many pieces are threaded thread together to make our mission a reality. It is not just technology, or vehicles, or reports, or boxes, but people! What makes this all work are people with a shared purpose. Each of us believes that eliminating food waste will change lives.

Our new community partner, Salas & Sons.

The Impact of All of Us

When people eat nutritious food, we all win! They feel better; they learn more and their lives improve because their bodies are nourished. In this process, each of us ensures that this goal, this shared mission, is served from beginning to end. Together we do this—one committed person handing off to another until the circle is closed, and we begin again tomorrow.

Every dollar donated creates 11 meals. One pick-up and delivery can turn into hundreds of meals
Never doubt that your efforts and contributions to Food Finders do not make an impact. They make all the difference to many people in your community every day!

Are you someone who is looking to make a greater impact in your community, then reach out to us at (562) 282-1400.

There are many ways in which you can help to impact the reduction of food waste and hunger:

#1 volunteer your time. It is your time, so why not use it to change your own community? learn more

#2 make a donation that will allow us to rescue more food and repurpose it: Donate

#3 share! Share our posts on Instagram or Facebook, or share this newsletter and page. Just sharing our message with others brings awareness and advocacy that can make a huge impact one day!

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact #eliminatehunger #eliminatefoodwaste

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Connecting-communities-food-findersCommunity

Community Gives Us Our Sense of Belonging

If the Pandemic has given us a gift, it would be that we all belong to something bigger.

At the core of what we do at Food Finders are people committed to a mission that serves others, serves our planet, and serves the communities that we live. We know that everyone in our community is important and we want each and every person living here to feel like they belong. When everything across America shut-down when COVID first hit, the Food Finders team was essential. Coming in each day to receive donations from essential grocery stores our deliveries grew. The growing list of local food pantries also were growing but somehow everyone felt a part of something greater and more beautiful despite the panic of a virus.

Food Is Much More Than Survival

We know that food is more than donated items in a box. Put together with love, care and a a few spices, food donations become a meal. And meals matter.

Meals Matter

When a meal is prepared there is thought, process and passion behind its preparation. Someone taught you how to prepare this recipe. A memory of a grandmother pouring salt into her hand and telling you, “This is just enough.” Pictures of a holiday gathering with family and friends who were oooing and aaahhhing over the smell and the taste of something you spend hours preparing. Food is the piece of our lives that brings people together. We eat it at the table sharing the stories of the day or we gather together to explore new experiences. We learn about the process, the country of origin, the unique culture, and the people behind the spice and recipe. Food is much more than survival which is why it was and still is essential in our lives. Food Rescue Heroes know just how true this is!

Across America We Share Community

Last week we were contacted by the Last Mile Food Rescue in Cincinnati, Ohio. They connected with us over a football game that was coming up on Sunday (you know, that really big game that uses roman numerals!) Rams vs Bengals. An exciting opportunity to reach out 2173 miles to say: “Hey, we are both committed to food rescue in our communities. We both use the same Food Rescue App. Our Football teams are rivals and competitors but let’s partner and share in the excitement that is filling both of our communities this week”

https://lastmilefood.org/

Our goal was to connect the dots of what we do. People who overcome sleet and snow to deliver food to a critical food pantry, or volunteers in LA who have to navigate six-lane highways with the sun glaring directly in their face while the GPS directs them to a local non-profit. Sun or snow we are all committed to the communities we serve because in those communities live real people in need. People we can help. And if we can help people get the nourishment they need today, we know that tomorrow they can do better in school or feel strong enough to gather with others. Food is nourishment but it is also the essential part of our lives that creates belonging. We have a duty to ensure that everyone is fed something healthy. That is what this new partnership is all about.

How Can We Help One Another 2173 Miles Apart?

I called a community merchant group in a town about one hour from Cincinnati. I explained to the group that during this week before the Super Bowl I was going to bring awareness to the excessive amount of food waste from the game, from tailgate parties, and from our families sitting at home. “About 40 tons of waste is generated during the big game,” I told them. “That is about the size of the average blue whale.”

Between the “Wows” I then asked them if they had ever heard of the Last Mile Rescue. They had not. “Its too far,” said one member of the group. But the Bengals in the Super Bowl? Oh yeah, they all knew all about that!

“Guess what?” I asked them. “Did you know that the Last Mile Rescue from Cincinnati Ohio and Food Finders from Los Angeles, California are both food finding heroes?”

The room was silent. Heroes? I explained who we were and what we were doing in our communities. I explained how just sharing the mission of their local food rescue hero could bring critical awareness and possibly millions of meals into food disadvantaged communities. It was then that the magic began.

“There is is food pantry in town.” one person said. “Oh yeah,” said another. “I heard they are helping so many people in town since the Pandemic.”

What if all the shops on Main Street did a food drive?” asked another. “Maybe do one each quarter instead of just collecting a few items at Christmas time.”

“My son lives in Cincinnati. I wonder if he could volunteer his time?” The room exploded in conversation.

This is how community partnerships work.

We Are All Connected

February is #BlackHistoryMonth and the vision that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had for our nation still resonates.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

Working with the Last Mile Food Rescue has already brought me so much joy (and the Rams haven’t even beaten the Bengals yet!) It is all in good fun and no matter who wins, we have made a connection that will impact our communities even more.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact #GoRams #ramscommunity #foodrescuehero #sblvi

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Community

Not Just Happy Holidays, Happy Memories

We’re approaching the time of year so many people see as the break in a long string of busy months and repeated tasks that constitute everyday life. The holidays—no matter your practice, beliefs, or customs, are a time to celebrate and convene with family and friends, if only for a day or two.

At places like Food Finders, it’s the busiest time of year, with food distributions often doubling and partners asking for specialty items or hoping for extra food like turkeys and other traditional fare to give to individuals and families who, like everyone else, look forward to a special meal they can share with those they love.

Beyond food, we know we’re providing things like hope, security, stability, and even joy. What do you think of when you think of holidays? Do you have a favorite food you look forward to eating in front of the fireplace? You might host a potluck at work or bake for friends? Maybe you visit family that you live away from or take a special trip that holds meaning for just that time of year.

It’s not just about food, but about memories.

Like, remember the time you made your first turkey and how great it turned out? How your grandpa told the best jokes whenever he drank a little eggnog? Or what about the time you had tacos instead of a traditional meal and it was the best holiday dinner you’d ever had because of who you shared it with?

We know that food is the gateway to so many holiday highlights, albeit a huge part, and can mean the difference between a wonderful experience and a woeful one. Which is why we make the extra effort to plan, produce and provide so much during this time of year. Being a resource that can make the difference between a forgettable and a memorable holiday is extra meaningful, and hearing stories of gratitude make it that much more rewarding.

We hope you’ll play a part in this year’s holiday season that involves giving back, whether it’s food or something equally important. To learn more about what Food Finders is doing, see our events page.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Community

Flux Sucks – Goodwill Is A Good Antidote

The heat is on, the season is in full swing, and families, employers, and businesses are still in various stages of flux. If you’d bet the pandemic would last past a year, you’d be cashing in right now.

Some people are making the most of the situation and taking advantage of productive, remote working situations, building more downtime into their schedules to spend with family and friends, visits to the beach and even time to cook more meals.

But a few blocks from your house or even just a few doors away, there are people struggling to stay positive. Summer is especially stressful. For parents, it brings the question of who will provide childcare if it’s even available, or how do I ensure my children are engaged if they’re not in a camp, summer school or community program? At the most basic level—”How do I keep my family from going hungry?” is being asked by one in five families, particularly while there’s no access to school meal programs.

The Health Care Agency of Orange County, published a study late last year that showed an 83% increase in the number of children facing food insecurity compared to 2018. USC Dornsife’s Public Exchange released a report around the same time last year about hunger in L.A., reinforcing how children experiencing hunger “are at a higher risk for cognitive problems, anxiety and depression.” Recently congress submitted an update to legislation called the Stop Child Hunger Act, with the intention of making summer food support permanent rather than a year-by-year consideration.

There IS something you can do, and not only will it improve your own mental health but will make an immediate impact and provide some stability to others. Your donation to Food Finders’ Summer To End Hunger drive ensures struggling kids and their families can eat, alleviating the stress of affording food so they can focus on other expenses and needs. Whether you’re collecting canned goods or cash, you’re supporting hundreds of nonprofits that in turn are serving thousands of families.

There’s an entire month of our drive remaining to continue addressing this immediate need – don’t go it alone. Enlist your tribe, your team, your ten or so friends or family members and make an even bigger impact!

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Support Food Finders and Give #MoreThanJustFood

Your support of Food Finders provides more than just food- it provides time spent cooking together, reconnecting with friends or family, creating a long-lasting memory, tradition and much more. Make a donation this December and provide someone in need with #MoreThanJustFood.