May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and we’re highlighting stories of resilience, togetherness and community from our AAPI community. Our goal is to celebrate and advocate for our AAPI community, not just this month but year-round. Second Harvest remains committed to bringing nutritious food to anyone who needs it.

Stress and Isolation: One Client’s Dream of In-Person Family Meals

Tiffany, Client | Campbell

When the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders went into effect in March 2020, Tiffany was terrified. As a 61-year-old full-time mom, staying home to protect herself from COVID-19 was isolating and deeply stressful. In November, Tiffany learned Second Harvest of Silicon Valley distributes free food near her Campbell home. She heard it was safe, socially distanced and best of all, a drive-thru, which ensured she could drive home the heavy boxes of food.

Tiffany’s husband and son cook the food that they receive from Second Harvest after they get home from work. They make a lot of dishes that remind her of her humble upbringing in Vietnam, and the flavors bring back fond memories of her mother’s cooking.

Tiffany’s biggest dream is once again to hug her daughter, who no longer lives with her. For the past year, they’ve only been able to greet each other while distanced in the driveway. Her daughter wants to take every precaution to reduce the risk of exposure for her because Tiffany is in a high-risk category. Tiffany is also looking forward to seeing her doctor in-person and visiting with relatives and friends. She dreams of the day when they can all have family meals together again.

Mylah Spears is a 74 year old volunteer in San Jose.

Volunteering for her Community, Rain or Shine

Mylah Spears, Volunteer | 산호세

Mylah is a 74-year-old volunteer at one of our free grocery drive-thru distributions in San Jose. She is a survivor of open brain surgery and is a proud Filipina who loves to ballroom dance. When we met her, she happily told us where else you could find her volunteering rain or shine:

“I’ve volunteered at the free grocery distribution sites at Santa Theresa, St. John Vianney, then I started coming here to Our Lady of Refuge. I met my friends here and I love it here. My name is Mylah Spears. Here they call me Britney!”

Reconnecting to her Roots through Food

Maya Murthy, Staff |
Director of Nutrition

Maya Murthy is our Director of Nutrition and reflects on her upbringing this AAPI Awareness month: “My mom truly embodies the spirit of immigrants who came to this country in the 70s. Everyone in [my parent’s] friend group was missing Indian food, now being in a new country, and she would prepare the staples for everyone most weekends. Today, I rely on dal, and really any traditional South Indian vegetarian fare, to reset, recenter, and reconnect to my culture and my family.”

Maya’s focus at Second Harvest has always been advocating for our clients and their access to nutritious food:

“The work that my team does – developing delicious, culturally relevant, simple recipes for our clients and sharing love for nourishment and culture – is one way we are fostering resilience in our community. It’s such important work, especially this far into the pandemic.”

Maya Murthy is Second Harvest of Silicon Valley's Director of Nutrition
Mylah Spears is a 74 year old volunteer in San Jose.

Sharing Love and Compassion through Food

Kelly Chew, Director of Services | 산호세

“Sharing food is a common value in Asian culture. We are sharing love and compassion through food.”

Kelly Chew grew up in Hong Kong and moved to San Jose when she was a teen. After gaining experience in clinical nutrition and social work, she joined Second Harvest in November of 2018 as Director of Services, leading the team that connects neighbors in our community with food resources from Second Harvest.

“I believe food is a universal language. Food is a common ground that brings people together. There are so many times our clients build trust with us by accessing our food programs. Gradually, they share their struggles and we can connect them with other social services.”