How to turn $1 into four healthy meals

Logo for Second Harvest Food Bank

“You can create four meals for every dollar donated?! That’s not true. You can’t pull that off.”

These were my thoughts the first time I heard Second Harvest Food Bank’s incredible claim for how they feed so many hungry people. Yet, four years later, I’m now leading the UCSC Holiday Food & Fund Drive that supports the food bank’s effort to feed our local and campus community in Santa Cruz County. Turns out, their claim was true! Second Harvest Food Bank can feed a family of four with only $1 because of their extensive relationships with farmers, retailers, food bank networks, and dedicated volunteers.

But that’s just one person’s SHFB story. Since the food bank can create four meals for every $1 donated through UCSC’s fundraising page, we’ll share 4 stories about this 1 food drive.

The other three stories come from:

  • Chancellor, Cindy Larive
  • Director of Basic Needs, Kednel Jean
  • Past Lead of the HFFD (and UCSC alum), John Steele

Chancellor Cindy Larive is a strong advocate of helping feed hope by fighting food insecurity. I asked her why the work of Second Harvest Food Bank inspires her to contribute her time and resources to support them...

“Most people are aware that food insecurity exists in Santa Cruz County. However, not many people know of the robust partnership that exists between UCSC and Second Harvest Food Bank to combat food insecurity for both students and employees. I am especially proud of two aspects of our partnership: First, that SHFB contributes personnel resources to our students’ CalFresh application efforts and provides farm-fresh food to our non-transactional cafe and choice based pantries. Second, UCSC is one of the top fundraisers for their Holiday Food & Fund Drive. It is my intent that our community's efforts to support them are only going to grow over the next couple of years. I hope you join me in supporting SHFB, as they support the UCSC community and the larger Santa Cruz County."

One of the main recipients of food on our campus is the Basic Needs program. Kednel Jean is the director of that program and had this to say about their partnership with SHFB…

“Second Harvest Food Bank has been an essential partner to UCSC's Basic Need Programs and efforts. They have partnered with our food pantries on campus and have helped us provide food to UCSC students. They have also worked with the Dean of Students Office students with Calfresh applications, which allows students who are eligible to purchase food for themselves and their households. Assisting SHFB will allow them to continue their work in supporting UCSC students and employees.”

John Steele led the Holiday Food & Fund Drive for the past 10 years. I asked him how the food drive has changed during that time. He told me…

“Over the years, the campus food drive made significant progress in its evolution from a canned-food drive to primarily a fund drive. The advantage of monetary donations is that Second Harvest Food Bank can leverage its reduced-cost purchasing power with local farmers and provide fresher meals with a greatly reduced carbon footprint. I am deeply grateful to everyone who supported us along the way. I am delighted that the Staff Advisory Board and a host of other people around the campus are stepping up to keep this remarkable effort moving forward. Fiat Slug!”

Hunger doesn’t take a holiday, and 2020 is no exception. The Second Harvest Food Bank has seen a record-breaking need for food due to COVID and fires. In November alone, SHFB:

  • Distributed over 750,000 lbs of food to nearly 60,000 people.
  • Over 483,000 pounds of that food went out through non-profit partners (like UCSC). The rest was direct distribution to the community through nutrition programs and drive-through distribution.
  • On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, they served over 2,000 drive-through cars.

Please use these links if you would like to learn more about how to:

Thank you for reading about this important work that helps our UCSC community and beyond!

Nathan McCall, Staff Advisory Board (SAB) Member