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tv   Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa  NBC  November 25, 2018 5:30am-6:01am PST

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♪ robert handa: hello and welcome to a special edition of "asian pacific america." i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. today, we help join the fight against hunger. today's show focuses on the annual food drive as nbc bay area kntv and telemundo 48 ksts team up with safeway's "feed the need" food drive for a campaign to end hunger, a drive which started yesterday, november 17th, and will continue all the way through christmas day. last year, the food drive collected more than 350,000 bags at safeway stores across the bay area, amounting to more than 4 million pounds of food for those in need. starting now and through december 25th, anyone can go visit one of the 170 participating safeway stores
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to donate $1, $5, or $10 that will go toward a bag of food donated to the local food banks at each store. shoppers can remove a flyer in the display area and take it to a register to donate each bag, which will contain pasta and sauce, canned vegetable, soup, and important protein items such as canned chicken breast. joining me first from the second harvest food bank is thuy le, partnership manager for the second harvest food bank. thuy was born in vietnam and to a working class family. her father was able to bring the family here, and thuy grew up in san jose. she did well for herself graduating from san jose state university. and after leading numerous nonprofits, she now works to keep improving food services for the food bank focusing on working class individuals and families. welcome back to the show. good to see you again. thuy le: thank you. good to see you. robert: now, give us an idea. first of all, you were--we were talking a little bit earlier about a grant that i thought sound very interesting. this grant's going to allow you to reach people that you haven't been able to reach before, not very easily, right? thuy: yes, that is correct.
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the food bank is fortunate enough to get a 2-years grant from the health trust, and we are--our goal is to open six new apartment complexes and mobile home parks that actually get the food directly to the site, to the resident that live at affordable housing. so we found a lot of barriers, why client cannot be able to get food, especially transportation is the biggest issue. so if we bring the food directly to the site, that will eliminate a lot of barriers. robert: that is a big step, don't you think? i mean, that's like--there's always been outreach in terms of getting people to know about the programs and everything, but people to go to the people, that's a big step. thuy: yes, and is very brand new for us. so we're trying to test it out and so far, lot of successful feedback, lot of clients loves it, and residents really grateful that they will be able to get the food directly in their homes. robert: that's very nice, but it can't be easy. isn't demand even more so now than ever before?
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thuy: that is correct. actually with the silicon valley booming tech, we found that a lot of clients cannot be able to pay rent and put food on the table at the same time. so we're trying to run a holiday campaign just to raise enough money to feed anyone who needs. second harvest food bank is trying to raise $17.5 million to ensure that we can provide healthy meal for anyone who need it. robert: yeah, you know, at one time i remember thinking that there was sort of a donor fatigue where people were getting a little like not sure-- "are we going to be able to solve this problem? maybe silicon valley companies should donate money and solve this problem." but i think with the homeless problem and people seeing the kind of people that are becoming--having problems with making rent and things like that, people are kind of more aware now, more sympathetic about donating, aren't they? thuy: yes, you know, i was--a lot of people think that individual donation is not going to make a difference to end hunger, but actually individual donations
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contributes in over 60% of second harvest revenue budget. so, you know, we always highly encourage individual to donate. we always welcome with food, preferably monetary--money donations that can really stretch and that can help second harvest food bank stretch throughout the whole year. robert: we talked a little bit about your background because, you know, you understand about hunger and food and things like that. must give you--must be quite rewarding for you to be able to lead a movement like this. thuy: that is correct. i love food. growing up in vietnam, there sometime is a lot of hardship so there's not a lot of time that we have full table of food. for to be able to--privileged enough to work for second harvest food bank and get the food to the client, i can see all the happy faces. it's very rewarding for sure.
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robert: what do you want to make sure people understand and think about as we enter into this donation season right now? what do you want them to think about? thuy: you know, we're-- at this holiday campaign, we always--turkey is always in popular demand. but as you may not know that a lot of people that we serve, they don't have enough large ovens to cook a turkey. so we always encourage like money donations and chickens 'cause we feed all the resident, and chicken is in high demand all year round. robert: that's right, and it's also a very diverse clientele you have, huh? thuy: yes, that is-- robert: all right, good luck. we'll help you out, okay? thuy: thank you. thank you so much. robert: well, the second harvest food bank will be joining with the nbc bay area and telemundo 48's "feed the need" food drive that's underway now and through december 25th at safeway stores throughout the bay area. for more details, go to and when we come back, a look at the needs in alameda county with the alameda county community food bank so stay with us.
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robert: the nbc bay area, telemundo 48 "feed the need" food drive is underway. with me now is the calfresh outreach associate of the alameda county community food bank, crystina esparza, and michael altfest. he is the director of community engagement and marketing. welcome to the show. both: thank you. robert: michael, give us sort of an overview in terms of--for what the organization does and sort of what its goals are. michael altfest: sure, alameda county community food bank is the hub of hunger relief for alameda county. we're serving one in five county residents that's primarily through food distribution that goes through 200 or so partner organizations like food pantries and soup kitchens, but we do a lot more than that. we've got a very bold vision that we're working through which involves calfresh outreach, which is the common name for food stands, advocacy work, nutrition, educational; a whole host of work that we're doing to really improve the lives of the people that we serve. robert: that's right, and of course, anybody familiar with the bay area knows alameda county is very diverse.
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you have a lot of different kinds of communities and people to kind of serve. how's the demand? getting bigger? michael: demand is as high as you would expect. and as you said, alameda--the clients that we serve are really as diverse as alameda county itself. so, you know, as we see demand go up, as we see demand kind of plateau or rise, you know, a lot of our work is making sure that we are serving those diverse communities. so we've got staff on board who are language experts, who can reach out into the various communities. but you know, we're really out there just making sure that we are able to meet the need. robert: yeah, and the plateaus really high, huh? michael: yes. robert: crystina, give me an idea in terms of your program and what you try to do. crystina esparza: yeah, i help clients apply for calfresh, so we help them from start to finish. and like he said, we do have associates who speak diverse languages. we also have a language line. and calfresh is a federally nutrition program, so we help clients apply, like i mentioned, and it gives them money every month for food.
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and especially during the holidays, it shouldn't be a luxury to have a meal for the holidays. so it's very humbling to be helping clients apply, especially during this time. robert: is it hard to get to them? i would think that the--you know, the need would be there that they would want the services, but do you have to kind of go out and find them? crystina: yes, we do. we do outreach. right now we are, for example, students. we're at six of ten community colleges in alameda county, and we are also at uc berkeley. our presence at uc berkeley is once a week, and we go and we help students apply. and these students are future doctors, are firefighters, are lawyers, and we're going there and helping them apply for the program. robert: you know, people probably don't think about students being in need as much as they think about maybe even seniors or other people like that, huh? michael: yeah, so commonly our most--you know, our most common people that we serve are children and seniors. those are the ones that people tend to know about. student hunger on college campuses has become a much more prominent topic lately.
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and, you know, like crystina said, these are our future leaders. the fact is somebody who is in school cannot achieve their potential without proper nutrition. we recognize that. that's why we're out there, not just in colleges but going to elementary schools, high schools. education and partnering with different schools has become a huge part of our work over the last couple of years. robert: i'll bet students also get involved when they get the seed programs like this, don't they? crystina: yes, i've had a couple of students who emailed me wanting to volunteer and wanting to come. and right now, especially during the holidays, is the time to volunteer with us, but the need is the whole year. hunger is a whole year problem, and if people want to come and volunteer, it's important. robert: what's the most rewarding thing for you being part of this? crystina: helping clients. you know, i had a client who came in the other day and she's working full time. she's working overtime to support a family of four, and the bay area is so expensive to live in. so to sit there and her tell me she's putting all these hours
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in and she's still can't afford rent. she has to go between paying rent or paying for food. and even our elderly clients, it's medicine or food. so it's very rewarding and humbling when they get approved and they're able to have that peace of mind. robert: what do you need and how can people help? michael: this time of year, food banks are generally receiving most of their funding to cover the entire calendar year. so we'll get probably 60-plus percent of our funding this time of year. the thing that food banks do need most is financial donations. we're purchasing most of the food that we provide. so financial contributions this time of year, the biggest thing. obviously participating in food drives is huge. the safeway food drive is very important to us. that adds a lot of diversity to the food that we get, very high quality food. we need volunteers a lot, and volunteers we typically need actually after the holidays. people don't generally think about that. holidays is when most of the food comes in. january, february, march, that's when we need hands to put that out the door. robert: because as you say, it's a kind of an issue and a problem all year round, right?
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michael: it is definitely an issue and a problem all year round that we're working to fight 365 days a year. robert: all right. well, we're glad to help. keep up the good work, okay? michael: thank you. appreciate it. robert: well, coming up next, the food and housing insecurities at uc berkeley. that's coming up next.
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and think everything is all right, and the same for uc berkeley, and yet there are food and housing insecurities, and that can be said for many college communities. here to tell us more about that is, first, kiyoko thomas, the basic needs manager at uc berkeley, a san jose native who is a licensed clinical social worker, and for the past 10 years has headed up behavioral health services serving primarily youth and adolescents. and also with us is vikremjeet padda, the calfresh student coordinator for the uc berkeley basic needs security program. he's also studying geography and food systems. welcome. we thought we'd throw that in there because you're going to be solving the problems for everybody later. give us an idea in terms of what's going on with the program, and maybe explain for people when they
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hear insecurities what all that means. kiyoko thomas: absolutely, i think it's important to really get rooted in the larger context, and the way that we define basic needs is really economic, food, and housing security. and so, really thinking on a national level, there's been a lack of federal spending on public higher education. of course, we've heard earlier in terms of the sudden cost of living in the bay area and then specifically at uc berkeley. berkeley happens to be one of the most expensive college towns in california and in the country. so as you can imagine, students navigating housing and food can be really complex. robert: yes, and with your background, you probably well aware that it causes quite a bit of stress on them trying to be good students, right? kiyoko: absolutely, so we've seen in terms of the data for students who really struggle with any sort of basic needs and security, but especially food and housing, there is a major impact on academic performance. so drops on gpa overall for students
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as well as mental health impact. robert: and that kind of thing tends to snowball, right? kiyoko: yes, absolutely. robert: we heard a little bit about the calfresh thing going on. what about for you? how do you go about doing your business? vikremjeet padda: in terms of, like, getting my groceries and everything, it's pretty hard to get that stuff done in berkeley with--there's a lot of like structural problems with terms of transportation and getting to the grocery stores. they're really far away from where students live, and you have to take the bus or sometimes people--you have to take bart to get to grocery stores. so that is like a really big problem for students. and then on top of paying for their tuition and course fees and everything, students have to pay for their rent and the--just the cost of living in berkeley. and when you have to choose between whether you want to eat dinner one night or if you need to pay for your rent, it's really a difficulty for a lot of college students. and about 36%--39% of undergraduates at uc berkeley go through food insecurity. so it's a really big problem that we're trying to solve.
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robert: yeah. how do you solve it? or what are some of the steps you're trying to take now? vikremjeet: so uc berkeley has two programs available for students that are facing food insecurity. we have a food pantry that's open six days a week for all uc berkeley students, and you're allowed to go in and get five items for every 2 weeks, and then you can--it's mainly dry-- or dry goods and canned goods that are nonperishable. and then we have the calfresh program which i help run, which is a federal program where you can use the money that you get from the program to spend on groceries in like different local--like farmers' markets and grocery stores. robert: you really hear how one thing depends on the other. what about this partnership now between the three kind of levels of education here going on, public education? kiyoko: sure, absolutely. so in 2016, there--started a partnership between the community college system, california state university, and uc. so really on a larger system and statewide level, we really
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try to ensure that we're coordinating our efforts and really thinking about the way that we can collaborate on kind of best practices related to serving college students and then thinking about, you know, the larger effective partnerships that we have. so, for example, really partnering with the county social services and food banks such as alameda county community food bank related to getting calfresh on campuses. robert: how do you, like, solicit help? like, how do people help you? it's a little easier--for some of the other organizations, people kind of have an idea of what to do or how to help. how do people help you? kiyoko: sure, so, you know, there's all the way from kind of the micro-macro ways, but, you know, in terms of the student level, it's really wonderful. so, for example, vikrem's calfresh team, we have a wonderful team of student volunteers and interns and then, you know, ultimately we have staff. so for example, my position is new at uc berkeley, which is really wonderful to have a dedicated staff member to really have coordinated efforts.
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and then, you know, we really do have wonderful partnerships in terms of really partnering with private donors as well as looking for other areas to fund our efforts because, you know, as we know, with the 39% of undergraduate students who are food insecure and the 23% of graduate students--and also we haven't even talked about housing. and so, right now, the numbers at uc berkeley are roughly 10% of the students who are homeless at some point of the academic year. we really do look for support at all levels to really fund all points for our interventions. robert: okay, we'll tackle hunger now, housing next time, okay? thank very much for being here. kiyoko: thank you, robert. robert: all right, well next up, the san francisco marin food bank and their unique situations. come back after this break.
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dealing with being food insecure is something the san francisco marin food bank focuses on. with me is the director of marketing and communication at the food bank, maria stokes. great to see you again.
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remember when you use to come for "project open ham," but now you're here for something else. maria stokes: yes. great to be back. robert: give us an idea here in terms of this tough question at the beginning here, san francisco marin, the combination of the two areas. maria: you're such a jokester. robert: why is that? maria: well, about 6 or 7 years ago, the marin food bank and the san francisco food bank merged, and so now our food bank serves both of those counties and there is great need for food assistance in both areas. robert: are they unique needs for both or are there a lot of common--is there a lot of common ground? maria: well, geographically of course they're very different. marin is very spread out. we actually have a mobile pantry that goes all the way out to the ranches in west marin, and san francisco is much more concentrated and we have a lot of neighborhood pantries. so they're unique in their own ways, and of course we try to serve both at the highest level. robert: i always ask people about the demand, and if anybody ever tells me the demand is going down, i'll probably faint. but most the time, demand is coming--even going up higher than people would be comfortable with, huh?
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maria: yes, and i think you would expect the way that our economy is booming here in the bay area that all boats are rising, and there are still so many neighbors who are struggling. so the need is as high as ever and, you know, there are still people who are working families, working hard, working multiple jobs who are not able to put food on the table, and so that's why the food bank is here. robert: for your food bank, what's kind of the best way for people to help? maria: oh, the best way is to make a donation. of course, we love having support of many different kinds volunteering, making food donations, but the food bank is really able to leverage our purchasing power. so when you give $1 to the food bank instead of giving us a can of food that could have cost $1, we can take that dollar and we can turn it into two meals, we can turn it into $5 worth of food because we buy in such large quantities. robert: yeah, and you don't want to belittle anybody's generosity, but a lot of people are kind of stuck in that image of donating a turkey or donating food when in fact you can make money kind of go a lot further, huh? maria: it's true, and of course if it moves you and you feel
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we want to, you know, bring that turkey to the food bank, we're going to distribute it. we have lots of partners who want that, and it's a process of education. and so, we really appreciate people's generosity in every form and we're also trying to inform people that your monetary donation is really the best gift that we can take and then turn into the most food. robert: can you have an example like--or a story of like a family, like, a typical kind of family situation that can kind of drive home for people what people sometimes face? maria: yes, sometimes to make people realize when we say one in four people are struggling, we hear some crazy stories at the food bank. people are really going to extremes. and the story that always comes to mind for me is i talked with a mother at one of our pantries who came in and said, you know, "before i came to this food bank and was getting food assistance, i'd sit down to dinner with my family, school-aged children, and we would take a pitcher of water and everybody would--glasses would be filled and we would all drink water to fill ourselves because we weren't sure we were going to have enough food for everybody to feel full at the end of the meal." and so, as a parent, that's just something that is
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heartbreaking and it's really unacceptable. and so, really, food banks are at the core of urging the entire community to step up and help neighbors who are in those horrible predicaments. robert: yeah, that's a--well, what a story. what about in terms of infrastructure, volunteerism, having enough hands to help you? do you have enough hands? maria: we can always use more, and there's so many ways to help. most people think of coming to the food bank and volunteering, and we have about 40,000 volunteers that come every year and it's so important that they help us manage food. we also really rely on people to leverage their communities and be ambassadors for us. so today with social media, people can not only donate to us, they can fundraise and rally their communities, encourage friends to give. celebrate a birthday or an anniversary by conducting your own fundraising drive. so that's a way that people can help. we need help delivering groceries to seniors and disabled neighbors. that's a program we've started in recent years, and that's something where it's a weekly commitment as opposed to coming
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once to the food bank with a corporate group for instance. this is something we're asking volunteers to commit to come every week and bring meals, bring groceries to neighbors in need. robert: yeah, you do really have to kind of focus not only on the holidays but the fact that it's a year round thing, huh? maria: that is certainly the truth. we really see a lot of interest in volunteering and donating at this time of year. and as my other colleagues at the other food banks have said, it is so important for people to come see us in the new year and continue to give and continue to volunteer and advocate year-round. robert: all right, we'll see you doing the food drive, right? maria: yes, we will. we're really excited. robert: okay. thanks for being here. maria: thank you. robert: good to see you again. maria: likewise. robert: all right, well, again, nbc bay area kntv and telemundo 48 have kicked off its annual food drive with the help of numerous agencies. to get more information on any of the programs we showed today, you can go to, and we're also on social media, facebook and twitter. and you can also follow me on twitter @rhanda. let us know what you think. and that's it for this show.
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we want to thank all of our guests for being here and helping with the overall food drive. get out to your local safeway and help out those in need, and join us again next week here on "asian pacific america." thanks for watching. ♪ ♪ ♪
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it would be a terrible mistake. >> really warms our hearts. >> make sure that you're not buying any romaine. >> i got here at 4:30 a.m. good morning and welcome to "sunday today" on this november 25th. i'm willie geist. i hope you had a great thanksgiving. as you head out on the roads or airport, you may face nasty weather. there are winter weather advisories with some areas forecast for half a foot of snow.


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