This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month®, an annual nutrition education and information campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, is “Eat Right with Color” and that is one of our favorite topics here at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.
Eat Right with Color is part of our daily work. In many low-income neighborhoods, access to affordable, nutritious food is sparse at best, often leading to higher than average occurrences of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity. At the Food Bank, we aim to help everyone Eat Right with Color by ensuring access to fresh, healthy food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Of the more than 12.6 million pounds of food we distributed last year, an amazing 3.5 million pounds were fresh fruits and vegetables.
Our Senior Food Program is certainly doing its part of making sure seniors eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The ‘Colors of the Senior Food Program’ at our last five distributions brought a greater nutritional value to the bags of food. Green was represented by cabbage and apples. White was represented by onions and potatoes. Orange was represented by oranges, carrots and yams.
Last week our Farm 2 Kids Coordinator visited a few Vallejo schools that receive produce on a weekly basis. Everyone was ecstatic because for the first time they all received a shipment of red and yellow mangoes from the Food Bank. Frequently when she asks the children what they would like to see in Farm 2 Kids they inevitably say enthusiastically “mangoes!” Read more about the mangoes we distributed to hundreds of children on our Food Bank Blog.
Where does the produce come from? As part of our statewide association of Food Banks we are able to purchase surplus produce for pennies on the pound. Fruits and vegetables grown by farmers in the Central Valley are often “not perfect enough” to be sold in grocery stores. Often, they are just too big or too small to be sold and that is why our clients sometimes receive giant oranges or tiny potatoes. The Food Bank buys the produce in large bins and then we have volunteers sort out any items that may have spoiled in transit. They then package the fruits and vegetables in boxes and a driver delivers them to the school site.
These are just a few examples of what Eat Right with Color means here at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano as we strive to provide healthy food for hungry people.