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BANK ON IT: Food Bank For New York City's Blog


Change One Thing This Summer!

By Sarah Troncone

Marcus Garvey Park was abuzz with kids running through sprinklers, playing on the playground, and riding their bikes when I arrived on Monday afternoon. I was there to check out Food Bank For New York City's "Change One Thing" truck, which launched that day. Brightly colored with sparkling orange slices, it was hard to miss. The "Change One Thing" truck's fun vibe welcomed teens and kids in the neighborhood to stop by for free water, healthy snacks such as sunflower seeds and dried fruit, healthy recipe booklets, fun prizes and a chance to win items like tickets to a major league baseball game through a social media contest.

"Change One Thing" is a social marketing campaign that educates teens on how to eat healthier by changing just one thing at a time rather than overhauling their entire diet. It can start with one healthy choice per day. The program helps guide teens toward practical, nutritious choices they can make without breaking their budget or disrupting their social lives.

The "Change One Thing" truck will be in dozens of places that teens congregate during the summer, including recreation centers, pools and basketball courts throughout the five boroughs until the end of summer. For truck locations, follow @FoodBank4NYC on Twitter or search #ChangeOneThing. The multimedia initiative includes a city-wide advertising campaign, mobile, digital, and broadcast, as well as social media.

For more information, visit Food Bank's Change One Thing page or EatwiseTeens.org.

Sarah Troncone is the Marketing & Social Media Coordinator at Food Bank For New York City.

Food Bank and Toyota Team Up for “Meals Per Hour”

By Amy Thompson

After Superstorm Sandy, Food Bank For New York City worked hard to provide food and services to New Yorkers in hard-hit communities who were desperate for our assistance. But as hard as we worked, we knew we could do more. That's when serendipity stepped in. Our partner Toyota came to us wanting to get involved. At first I thought, "What do a car company and a hunger relief organization have in common?" As it turns out, a lot! We both share a passion for helping people.

Over the past few months, we have worked with the Toyota Production System Support center (TSSC) on the "Meals Per Hour" project, a collaboration borne of Food Bank's constant search for innovate ways to get people the food they need. The idea was simple: TSSC would help us apply the manufacturing philosophy Toyota uses to build cars to our food pantries in order to feed hungry New Yorkers faster and more efficiently. For eight weeks, Food Bank provided food to Metro World Child, one of our longtime member agencies, as well as the staff to pack and distribute it into emergency boxes for hungry families in Far Rockaway, a community ravaged by Sandy. TSSC was on hand every step of the way to train us and implement their principles.

In the warehouse, where the food boxes were packed, loaded in the truck, and prepared for distribution, TSSC and Food Bank got busy making changes. They suggested that Metro switch from square boxes to rectangular ones to ensure that each box was filled with less air and more food.  We also implemented an assembly line box-packing system that dramatically reduced packing time. Changes were even made at the point of distribution in the Rockaways, which reduced the amount of time it took volunteers to hand out boxes. What were the specific outcomes of all the TSSC improvements? Watch the Meals Per Hour video and see for yourself! With each viewing of this video, Toyota will donate the cost of one meal to Food Bank For New York City, up to 1 million meals!

I had fun helping with the distribution each week in Far Rockaway, but I also learned more than I was expecting to, and I know others at Food Bank have as well. As a result of this project, Food Bank has already begun to apply TSSC principles to our Community Kitchen and Food Pantry in Harlem, as well as to some of our member agencies across the five boroughs, with plans to do more. TSSC has also agreed to come back and help us improve the efficiency of our warehouse, which is the largest wholesale food distribution center in the world. It will be quite a job, but I know from firsthand experience that we'll see great results!

Amy Thompson is a Capacity Associate and works on the award-winning TEN program at Food Bank For New York City.

Have a Happy, Healthy 4th of July

By Zoe Cooper-Caroselli

When I was growing up the 4th of July meant sandy toes, time with family and friends, fireworks, and delicious barbeque chicken and corn on the cob. I remember the taste of that chicken, with its crisp skin and juicy flesh, and the smell of smoke coming off the grill as I tried to balance sweet summer corn on my paper plate.  Food is an intrinsic part of holiday celebrations, and what we eat as children can impact our food choices for the rest of our lives.

As a Nutrition and Health Services Associate at Food Bank, I have the opportunity to help shape how kids think about food because of my work with CookShop, Food Bank's largest nutrition education program. Through CookShop Classroom's fun, hands-on workshops we're able to reach children age 5 -12 in more than 1,700 elementary and after-school classes, where they learn to enjoy nutritious food and make healthy choices every day. Kids discover where food comes from, how plants grow, why whole foods are good for their body, how to prepare simple, healthy recipes and much more. The best part of my job is hearing the feedback from teachers and parents who tell me what an incredible impact CookShop has in changing kids' eating habits.

Getting children to eat better comes down to two things: Make it tasty and make it fun. The healthy and delicious Red, White & Blue Yummy Yogurt Parfait below fits the bill on both counts. It's the perfect 4th of July treat for kids and adults alike. Fruits taste their best – and are the most nutritious – when they are in season and don't have to travel too far from the farm to our plates (the same goes for veggies too)!

I've adapted this recipe from our first grade CookShop curriculum, swapping other fruits out in favor of colorful seasonal blueberries and strawberries. Almost all the recipe preparation is appropriate for kids, but make sure that an adult cuts the strawberries. Here's to celebrations, family traditions, and making good food choices that will last a lifetime. Happy 4th of July!

Red, White & Blue Yummy Yogurt Parfaits

1 32 oz container low-fat plain yogurt
¼ cup honey
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries

Wash hands and all produce well. Cut strawberries into small pieces. Combine strawberry pieces and blueberries in a bowl. Put yogurt into a separate mixing bowl. Add honey to yogurt. Stir to combine. Spoon a layer of yogurt into cups. Spoon a layer of fruit on top of yogurt. Add another yogurt layer followed by another fruit layer. Serves 4.

Zoe Cooper-Caroselli is a Nutrition and Health Services Associate at Food Bank For New York City.

Taking the Food Stamp Challenge

By Laura Mindlin

I knew that living on $1.50 per meal a day would be difficult, but by day three of the Food Stamp Challenge, I was exhausted. It wasn't just because of the small portions of food I'd been eating to avoid hitting day six with nothing left but a half empty jar of peanut butter; making $31.50 in groceries stretch a whole week was tougher than I imagined. My exhaustion instead came from constantly thinking about food.

I consider myself a foodie, so this was not a big change for me, but the nature of my thoughts had changed. On the days leading up to the challenge, I was kept up at night thinking about how I would spend that $31.50. Which foods would last me the whole week? Would I be able to get even a sampling of fruits and vegetables? What would I have to sacrifice? Those first few days I managed to pull together some pretty decent dishes with the foods I bought: pasta, kidney and black beans, tofu (best bang for your buck), peanut butter, brown rice, mango, oatmeal, broccoli/carrot mixture, eggs, chicken drumsticks, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cereal, red pepper, sweet potatoes, and an eggplant.

Despite my naïve expectations, my food-related stressors didn't dissolve when I finally made my purchases. They actually led to some frustration, as well as a few other emotions that I couldn't quite put my finger on. But I kept those feelings inside. I'd sit in a café and watch with wide eyes and outrage as the person next to me threw away half of a perfectly good sandwich.

Other times, I had to explain to friends that I was a little grumpy because I hadn't eaten much that day, and I was exhausted by all of the thoughts circulating in my mind. But then I'd stop and remind myself why I took on this challenge in the first place. Grumpiness? Mental exhaustion? Who was I to use these excuses when there are people living on a food stamp budget week after week, maybe even working two jobs, simply to provide for their family? I knew that by the last day of this challenge I'd likely have gained many new insights--not just about the hardworking New Yorkers who rely on food stamps to get them through difficult times, but also about myself. I'll share more of the lessons I've learned in my next blog.

Laura Mindlin, a sophomore at Skidmore College, is a Government Relations summer intern at Food Bank For New York City.

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