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Second Harvest Meals Financial institution is recent for the vacation – Orange County Register

Simply in time for Thanksgiving, the Second Harvest Meals Financial institution held its fortieth Anniversary Marketing campaign “No Lunch” Lunch this week showcasing a brand new emphasis for the group on offering free and equitable entry to recent meals for communities throughout Orange County.

Held at Second Harvest’s headquarters in Irvine, the lunch honored 300 of its volunteers, donors and companions, and CEO Claudia Bonilla Keller additionally spoke to the viewers about why it has been crucial for the meals financial institution to replace its mission shifting ahead.

“Our new imaginative and prescient, that we work towards day-after-day on this meals financial institution, is an Orange County with meals and diet safety for all,” Keller stated. “Sure we feed, however we additionally try to serve probably the most nutritious meals we are able to, to assist carry our neighbors in want out of poverty.

“It is our mission,” she stated, “in collaboration with our companions, to supply dignified, equitable and constant entry to nutritious meals, making a basis for group well being.”

Latest enlargement of the group consists of two new farms – a smaller Founders Farm and its important 45-acre Harvest Options Farm – and 16,000-square-feet of cooler house that’s serving to the meals financial institution accommodate an inflow of recent meals and produce to fulfill its new more healthy mission, equivalent to greens, fruits, milk, lean protein and eggs which can be bought, grown or donated.

By means of 310 native meals pantries round Orange County, Second Harvest serves about 332,000 folks a month – that’s up considerably from a pre-pandemic common of 249,000 folks.

Through the pandemic, many organizations within the county stepped as much as assist Second Harvest meet the speedy progress in want seen in the course of the pivotal interval on the pandemic’s top when want swelled to 650,000 folks a month.

Keller identified the latest mural added to the partitions of the Second Harvest Meals Financial institution’s Irvine headquarters.

“The faces on the facet of the constructing are precise people who we serve,” Keller informed the viewers. “They allowed their pictures to be shared as a illustration of the people who we serve, the group that we signify, and that mural is a present from this meals financial institution to Orange County for standing with us in the course of the darkest of occasions. It’s a everlasting reminder that after we all stand collectively, we are able to climate any disaster.”

In all of Second Harvest’s 40 years, the final two signify the largest pivot in its method towards offering for the group, its management stated.

“We’re on a diet mission,” stated Dareen Khatib, administrator of well being and wellness for the Orange County Division of Schooling who’s a Second Harvest board member and the pinnacle of its dietary advisory council. “We wish to ensure that we aren’t simply giving any form of meals, however ensuring it is high-quality meals that is nourishing our bodies and minds and social well-being.”

Khatib stated whereas placing well being first by what sort of meals the group pantries are stocked with, Second Harvest additionally gives folks selections within the meals they obtain – that is giving with dignity.

And all of that, “it is a crew effort,” Keller stated. In 2022, Second Harvest distributed 33 million kilos of meals with the assistance of 285 companion teams and 37,000 volunteer hours at its distribution middle and farm. The hassle additionally took a fleet of vans that traveled 97,000 miles – a size that equates to circumventing the world 4 occasions, Keller stated.

“We like to consider ourselves as growing new and modern methods to deal with an age-old drawback of not only a lack of meals, but additionally dietary insecurity,” Keller stated. “If we are able to present good meals to the individuals who want it probably the most, simply perhaps we are able to have an effect on their well being outcomes. And if we are able to have an effect on the well being outcomes, then their trajectory opens up that rather more.”

Keller stated the groundwork Second Harvest is placing into creating entry to constant, nutritious meals, ought to create a wholesome way of life even for Orange County’s most hostile communities with the end result being elevated alternatives, self-sufficiency and financial and well being progress.

“I really like this concept that we’re creating alternatives for equitable entry to wholesome meals,” Khatib stated. “It is not sufficient simply to say, ‘This is some meals,’ however extra, it is to make sure that folks really feel we’re honoring who they’re and what they want by providing a wide range of meals that match their cultural backgrounds and diets.”

For volunteer alternatives on the Harvest Options Farm, the meals financial institution’s Irvine distribution middle or to provide again to Second Harvest Meals Financial institution go to feedoc.org/volunteer or electronic mail volunteer@feedoc.org.

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