The van that holds the mobile kitchen features four screens on its side, so participants can watch the cooking techniques of Second Harvest's nutrition educators as they demonstrate how to make healthy meals from ingredients they'll find in their grocery bags.
The van is part of Second Harvest's nutrition education program dedicated to providing information and recipes for healthier eating to the 250,000 people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties who rely on the organization for food. Although Second Harvest is leasing the van from Fresno Community Food Bank to test its practicality and effectiveness, the organization is looking into funding to purchase its own mobile kitchen.
"We're hoping to make this a real ongoing program," said spokeswoman Caitlin Kerk.
According to Janet Hung, one of Second Harvest's nutrition experts, approximately 150 people came to watch the cooking demonstrations outside of the senior center. The nutrition experts inside the mobile kitchen create the recipes, cooking dishes that feature many of the ingredients the food bank distributes every week. This summer season has featured broccoli pasta salad and fruit salad recipes. Nutrition educators who are not cooking distribute samples of the dishes.
The Mountain View Senior Center is part of Second Harvest's Brown Bag program, which provides groceries to low-income seniors every week. Approximately 400 members of the senior center receive 20 pounds of groceries every week. Half of the groceries are fresh produce.
"For many people in this culture, it is difficult to go back to nature," said Mani Subramanian, a Mountain View Senior Center patron who watched the cooking demonstrations. "The demonstrations tell people nutrition is not just a theory, but a practice."