Five Key Ingredients to Our Healthy Food Vision

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With one taste, a typical shopping trip to the food bank turned into an inspiring visit for Kevin, a partner from Second Genesis.

He was intrigued by the inviting smells of the Mexican Rice Skillet being prepared in the partner agency waiting area, sampled the dish and then eagerly grabbed the recipe. That day, Kevin shopped at the food bank with new ideas (literally) in hand.

“Canned corn, canned tomatoes, rice and ground turkey are common ingredients in our kitchen,” Kevin reflected. “I just never thought to put them together that way.”

Kevin has since prepared the Mexican Rice Skillet many times at his organization, where every day, he feeds up to 50 people struggling to overcome addiction. Now he makes the recipe his own way, creating all sorts of variations using ingredients he has on hand.

Here at the food bank, we want to create more experiences like Kevin’s, where hands-on learning, tasting, ordering, shopping and distributing blend together to ultimately bring more healthy meals into the community.

Our food vision took root in 2012 with these five healthy food highlights:

5. Food Growing Meets Cooking and Nutrition

A belated Happy 1st birthday to the Healthy Eating Department! When our nutrition education and local produce promotion departments merged, the journey to redefine and refine food bank education began. The Healthy Eating Department is committed to increasing the number of healthy meals served in the community through increased healthy food access and education.

4. The Kitchen Becomes the Heart of Our Home

The Mildred J Brooks Learning Center opened its doors in August, and we have been cooking ever since. Here, food bank ingredients are transformed into nourishing meals and Healthy Eating on a Budget is showcased. The kitchen hosts food donor events, partner/chef cook-offs, and recipe testing sessions.

3. Healthy Food is Our New Standard

In 2012, the food bank created nutrition standards based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Healthy food is defined as whole grains, canned fruits in their natural juices, no-salt-added canned vegetables, lean meats, and colorful varieties of fresh produce. The guidelines influence food goals and inform education programs.

2. Recipes, the Secret Ingredient to Our Success

Our recipes are based on common food bank ingredients and show case how to eat healthily on a budget. Recipes are developed and tested on-site, adapted as needed, and made into bilingual recipe cards available online or during special recipe card distributions (like our Holiday Box).

1. We Make it Official

The Healthy Food Initiative, announced on Food Day 2012, formalized the food bank’s commitment to distributing healthy food and providing innovative education programs to partners. We’re proud of our commitment and look forward to creating new opportunities for all food bank stakeholders in the years to come.

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