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Faces of the Food Bank: Dora

Faces of the Food Bank: Dora

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

One in four children living in Los Angeles County does not know where their next meal is coming from. This food insecurity not only affects their physical health but interferes with their ability to try a variety of foods and to develop healthy eating habits. At the Food Bank, our job is to make sure that individuals and families in need have enough food. But we also strive to provide healthy food, and information about how to live healthy lives–especially for vulnerable populations such as at-risk children.

Dora Chow plays a major role in those efforts.  She is our Child & Nutrition Programs Specialist. She wears many hats but mainly focuses on our after-school meals program and summer lunch program. “I’ve always wanted to help people,” she says. “We feed approximately 2,600 kids on a daily basis at 41 agencies during the school year. Each kid receives a main dish, fruit, vegetable, and milk. It feels great to see how something so small and simple as a meal can make a difference in their lives ” Dora works to provide food that is kid-friendly and foods that many had never tried or seen before such as hummus and pita bread. Offering meal variety is an effective way to make sure that eating is engaging and rewarding. It is also a way to ensure that these children are getting all the different nutrients they need and shaping lifelong healthy habits. “I have always been a foodie,” Dora says. “Food brings people together and makes them happy. I would always eat at the table with my family growing up. It’s the only time we really get to spend together.”



As of this January, Dora also teaches nutrition classes for children. “One of the first things I tell them is ‘did you know there is no such thing as a bad food’,” she says. “I don’t discourage them. I just try to emphasize balance.” She explained that the children in these programs live in food deserts where access to nutritious foods is limited. “They just eat what is available in their environment, processed foods that are high in saturated fat and sodium. But I don’t tell them to stop eating chips,” she explains. Dora uses vials of salt and teaspoons of sugar to help students visualize nutrition facts that they may never have been exposed to before.



“I love seeing their shocked faces and their reactions to finding out how much sodium is in their favorite chips and sugar in their favorite beverages! I know that not all the kids will change the way they eat because of these classes, but as long as just one person gets it, I feel like I am making a difference. It’s also great to hear from our coordinators about the children sharing the information they have learned in my nutrition class to their parents, it truly creates an impact for the entire family.” Dora also makes time to teach the students some fun physical activities.


Dora and the rest of the Nutrition Department are a close, supportive team. “We work so well together and all have the same passion to help people.” She especially admires Yesenia Vasquez, her boss. “I really look up to her. She is very committed and good at her job,” she says. “I feed off of her energy. It’s fulfilling to see the fruits of our labor together.”

Dora completed her B.A. in Public Health Policy at the University of California, Irvine, holds a certificate in Health Education and Promotion, and currently pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) at Benedictine University.    IMG_8766

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