December Agency Spotlight: Grey Bears

Grey Bears Spotlightgrey bearspic

It’s hard to believe that Grey Bears began with two UCSC students. It was 1973 when both of these students, Kristina Mailliard and her boyfriend Gary Denny, decided to take in food from local farmers and gardens and share it with the elderly. Both were surprised at the undernourishment of the poor/low-income elderly, knowing that, they continued with the organization.

In 1976 Grey Bears had established itself as a non-profit organization under 501©3. Throughout Santa Cruz county Grey Bears have delivered bags of fresh produce and healthy staples to 4,500 seniors each week through the Brown Bag Program. In 1985 Grey Bears purchased the 1st mid-county lot at 2710 chanticleer Ave, SC where they currently are today.

Visiting this organization, one would be amazed at the dedication and coordination of the group of volunteers that help create the many bags that feed the elderly. David Fuentez, the Brown Bag Program Coordinator, is very proud in having such hard and fast working volunteers; “We have an amazing community of volunteers and many have become my personal friends. In my department alone we have 25 plus volunteers who are here Monday – Wednesday helping with quality control processing. On Thursday and Friday you’ll find over 65 volunteers helping pack our bags for distribution along with 90 more volunteer drivers on those days delivering the bags for distribution. Most of our volunteers have been with Grey Bears for many years and that kind of dedication speaks for itself and makes me proud to be part of the Grey Bears”- David Fuentez. David is 10 months into his third year at Grey Bears. If you ask him what he does at Grey Bears he would reply: “I help grocery shop for 4500 weekly to ensure our membership receives the most nutritious bag we can provide.” He knows that it’s because of these volunteers that Grey Bears have the success they are known for. Their establishment can be seen to dedicate itself around the slogan “nothing goes to waste”. For the spoils they have, there are six large compost tubs. For the recycling they even operate two recycling centers, one at the Chanticleer Recycling Center and the other at the Buena Vista Landfill Recycling Center. David would tell you that Grey Bears also offers classes such as computers and tech support, Spanish, yoga, cooking and Taiko drumming and host several events during the year that helps keep seniors socially active in our community. It’s a BIG organization that does A LOT of things. For all the members Grey Bears serve, low-income seniors get fresh food and healthy food to supply their days.

Photo by: Lance Linares A large group of volunteers working efficiently to fill bags to be delivered

This year Grey Bears will have delivered 2.5 million pounds of food to their 4,500 members. Grey Bears has also been named 2015 organization of the year by Aptos chamber of commerce and community. With the help of 500 hardworking volunteers who deliver 80,000 hours of service each year they hold true to their vision of all seniors living healthy lives. Grey Bears have improved the health and wellbeing of seniors through all the hard work they accomplish. No doubt Kristina and Gary (founders) are very proud of what Grey Bears is accomplishing.

Second Harvest Food Bank has worked with David Fuentez/Grey Bears for years and we are proud to have them as a partnered Agency. With their help, and the help of the many other Agencies, we may soon make sure that no one goes hunger whether they be young children, middle-aged, or elderly seniors.

grey bearspic

December Recipe of the Month

curry-pumpkin-soupPumpkin Soup


  •  1 large onion
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. margarine
  • 2 cups of corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded an chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 cans low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice


1.) In a large sauce pan, sauté onion, margarine and red pepper until tender

2.) Add corn, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and chili powder. Sauté for two more minutes

3.) Stir in broth, salt, pumpkin, and cayenne pepper until blend-ed. Set to boil

4.) Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes

5.) Stir in lime juice and serve

Makes 7 portions

Benefits of Recipe:

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkins have an excellent source of Antioxidants such as Beta– carotene which is converted to Vitamin A which helps:

  • Reduce the risk of certain type of cancers
  •  Protect against heart disease.

Reduce the risk of degenerative conditions of aging (ej. Osteoporosis, cancer)

Sopa de Calabaza


  • 1 cebolla grande, picado
  • 1 medio pimiento rojo dulce, picado
  • 2 cucharadas de margarina
  • 2 tazas de maíz , fresco o congelado
  • 1 chile jalapeño
  • 2 dientes de ajo, picado
  • 2 cucharaditas de chile en polvo
  • 2 latas de caldo de verduras, bajo en sodio
  • 1 3/4 tazas de puré de calabaza
  • 1/2 cucharadita de sal
  • Pimienta de cayena
  • 2 cucharadas de jugo de limón


1.) En una sartén grande, salteé la cebolla, la margarina y el pimiento rojo hasta que estén blandos.

2.) Añade el maíz, el chile jalapeño, el ajo y el chile en polvo. Saltee por dos minutos más.

3.) Mezcle el caldo, la sal, la calabaza, y pimienta de cayena hasta que se combinan. Deje a hervir.

4.)Reduzca el fuego y cocine a fuego lento por 10 minutos

5.) Mezcle el judo de limón y sirve.

Rinde 7 porciones

Beneficios de la Receta:

Sopa de Calabaza

Las calabazas tienen un buen fuente de Antioxidantes como beta – caroteno que se cambia a Vitamina A que ayuda:

  • Reducir el riesgo de ciertos tipos de cancerpumpkin-soup-su-x
  •  Proteger contra la enfermedad de corazón
  • Reducir el riesgo de aspectos degenerativos de
  • Envejecimiento (i.e. osteoporosis, cancer)


Healthy Holiday Substitutions

Obesity Prevention III- Healthy Holiday Substitutions  presentpic

     Of all our talks on Obesity, Metabolism, and Portion Control, we have finally wrapped them up in a small box with a bow on top, adding a card that says “To: The Holidays”. Everything you’ve learned so far is preparing you for this moment. Holidays are the time of the year where the gift that keeps on giving is food and with food comes weight.

  • Did you know that Americans gain an average of 1 Pound during holiday season? Why? Two reasons:
  1. All that holiday food
  2. Less/ no exercise due to cold weather

In this Lesson we’ll discuss a few things:

  1. How healthy substitutions can be incorporated in your favorite holiday meals
  2. How spending more time away from the plate and with family and friends will lead to a better, activity filled day.
  3. Different games and activities to do with the family.
  • Healthy Substitutions Chart
  1. Holiday recipes tend to use a lot of fat, sugar, and cream for their ingredients. What if you could substitute such ingredients for healthier ones and still have the same great taste? Well you can!

Check this out!

For this ingredient Substitute this healthier option Benefits
Sour cream, butter, cream cheese Low-fat Greek yogurt Reduced fat, increase protein
Oil in baking Apple sauce Reduced fat,
Sugar (white refined) Apple sauce, Honey, Agave Nectar Natural sugar
Butter Avocado puree, coconut oil Trade cholesterol unsaturated fats
Pasta Spaghetti squash Reduced calories
Soda Carbonated with fruit No calories from high sugar drinks
Iceberg Lettuce Kale, chard, dark leafy greens Increased fiber and vitamins
Syrup Pureed fruit Less processed sugar + fiber
1 Whole Egg 2 Egg whites Decreased fat and cholesterol
White flour Whole wheat flour Increased nutrient density + fiber
Mashed potatoes Mashed cauliflower Reduced calories


  • Physical Activity

Before you skip this section, I’m not talking about lifting weights or doing a 10k run. It’s the holidays, you need a break. All I’m saying is that you don’t necessarily have to spend the whole day on the couch. We’re talking about fun activities, being active with your family and friends. Your whole family is around for the holidays, spend time with them, here are some fun suggestions:

  • Have a Family Game Time: Play Soccer, baseball, football
  • Have a walk with some with a relative instead of watching T.V.
  • Whip out a board game like twister or Pictionary (games that will get you moving).
  • Physical Activities relieve stress so move around instead of sitting down. Exercise helps you sleep better, and you’ll feel more energized and productive during the holidays.

Holidays are a busy time of the year. Families come together and enjoy each other’s company. Great food is past around. You could use the excuse of saying “its one day out of the year that I can eat however much I like”, but if you’re the type who says that, chances are you’re not as committed to being healthy or losing weight as you might think.

We’ve learned about Obesity, Metabolism, and Portion control. Now we’ve learned about healthy substitutions. The holidays are going to be a test on what you’ve learned, and how much you’re committed to having a healthy lifestyle.

The most important thing to take away- Enjoy the time with your family and friends, having fun activities with them doesn’t just help with your metabolism, but brings the family together. You can still cook that famous Christmas dessert everyone secretly arrived for, but try it with the substituted ingredients. You’ll find out that it tastes just as great and is a lot healthier.

Happy Holidays!

holiday reef