Category: Produce

Happy Holidays!

     This Thanksgiving season cozy up to the sweet comfort of winter squash. This family of nutrient packed vegetables include pumpkin, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and butternut squash. These fall favorites provide numerous health benefits that may help reduce various types of illness such as heart and respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Benefits are also found in the red, orange, and yellow pigment of the skin where high levels of alpha- carotene and beta- carotene convert to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for vision health and can help boost immune function. Winter squash is also packed with fiber which can help keep blood sugar levels stable.

The best part is that most winter squash varieties are naturally sweet which makes it a great food for kids to try. You can bake, broil, or steam the vegetable to vary its texture. The healthiest way to prepare winter squash is to peel the vegetable, remove the seeds, cut the squash into cubes, and then steam them for about seven minutes. If you don’t want to peel the vegetable, you can cut it in half and poke the meat of the vegetable with a fork. Then throw it in the oven and bake until tender. For a power packed holiday treat, try roasting butternut squash with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Avey, Tori. “Maple Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash – Vegan Recipe.” Tori Avey, 18 Nov. 2019, https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/maple-cinnamon-roasted-butternut-squash/.

Collins, Karen. “The Best Winter Foods for Kids.” EatRight, 13 Dec. 2018, https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/best-winter-foods-for-kids.

“Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin A.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/#h7.

Swartzendruber, Kris. “Enjoy the Taste and Health Benefits of Winter Squash.” MSU Extension, Michigan State University Extension, 2 Oct. 2018, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/enjoy_the_taste_and_health_benefits_of_winter_squash.

Summer is Off to a Hot Start with Hot Meals for Kids

Second Harvest’s 12th annual Summer Food Program completed its first month of service on June 28th.

Throughout the month of June, Second Harvest’s fleet of trailers delivered over 102,610 breakfasts, hot lunches, and snacks to 98 participating locations in six counties, including YMCA’s, Parks and Recreation Centers, summer camps, libraries and churches.

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Hello Opportunities

As Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program students approach the end of the 16-week program, they begin to look for a place to start their new career. One way Second Harvest helps students succeed in the local food industry is through hands-on experiences. One career path could be to work in a hotel kitchen. The Hyatt Regency Orlando recently hosted our students for a field trip so they can better understand what would be required of them in a hotel kitchen.

“Today is all about showing the students the opportunities in front of them when they graduate,” explained Dan Markewicz, Hyatt Regency Orlando’s area recruiter.

The field trip began with a tour of the kitchens to learn about the different positions and how they work together to execute the chef’s vision. Executive Chef David Barrett explained that it does not matter where you start in the food industry, “If you work for the job you want, you will be able to move up and one-day achieve your dream job.”

After hearing from Chef Barrett, the students more excited about their careers and all of the positive changes happening in their lives.

“My mom taught me how to cook and I love it. Ever since then I have dreamed of being a chef,” said culinary student Karlen Franis. “Second Harvest has given me hope that I can achieve this goal and now I am very excited to start my career.”

Throughout the day, students visited different kitchens on the property. This eye-opening experience helped some students visualize the types of careers they can pursue.

“I have always loved to bake,” explained culinary student Silvia Perero. “Being able to go into the pastry kitchen helped me realize that is something I can do as a career.”

The tour ended with the students meeting Jorge Daupub, a Culinary Training Program graduate who now works at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. He shared with the students about how he was able to get a job at the Hyatt when the program was over and how his life has changed because of Second Harvest.

“Second Harvest is going to change your life,” said Jorge. “Second Harvest changed my life by giving me the opportunity to train for a better job that I love. Now my life is way better.”

Many thanks to the Hyatt Regency Orlando for giving our students the opportunity to visit a hotel kitchen.

Read more about the many graduates who have benefited from our Culinary Training Program at http://www.feedhopenow.org/need_stories_culinary.

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Expanding & Enhancing the Culinary Training Program

A month ago, the Culinary Training Program at Second Harvest celebrated three more classes of graduating culinary students, all of which have gone on to be fully employed. With an additional 30 graduating students, there are more than 280 alumni of the program who have each created success for themselves and their families.

Recently, Second Harvest examined how we could expand and enhance the program to increase the employability of our graduates and increase the number of students that go through the program.

State Legislature Request

With the help of State Rep. Kamia Brown (HB 2623) and State Sen. David Simmons, we are requesting $350,000 from the Florida legislature to fund the expansion and enhancement of the culinary program for 80 students. The funding will provide hands-on experience with barista and baking skills. By expanding student knowledge and experience with different aspects of the industry it will increase their employability. Baking skills especially are highly sought after by employers.

Additionally, the funding will go towards a passenger van to transport students to and from field trips to potential employers and provide even more transportation for catering events that are staffed by students.

The Department of Economic Opportunity recently forecasted a 10.7%  increased demand for hospitality employees in Central Florida over the next 8 years. This funding request will directly address this increased demand with highly-skilled culinary graduates.

Next Steps

Second Harvest is currently waiting for the House version of the bill (HB 2623) to be scheduled to be heard in its first House committee — the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. Once the bill has been scheduled to be heard, you will receive a call to action to ensure it passes out of this committee by contacting all Committee members and asking for their support.

Sign up for advocacy alerts at www.feedhopenow.org/advocacy.