G's Commodity Food Facts
Wonder how to use food pantry items?
Exchange student remorse turned me into a bona fide foodie. While other young women obsessed over the latest fashions, I was busy flipping through Gourmet and Food and Wine subscriptions. Julia Child's 'How to Cook' and 'The New Basics Cookbook' by Russo and Lukins were among the romance novels that I read from cover to cover. I walked in off the street and scored an informal internship in a hotel kitchen and finally earned degrees in Pastry Arts and Food Service Management. With all that food experience under my belt, my true cooking education came when I connected those culinary dots as a client (and later as a nutritionist) at a local Food Bank.
G, How Long is Food Safe
Got cactus (nopales)? No problemo!
Who knew the prickly pear cactus was edible? I precooked the cactus and added it to an easy delicious and nutritious recipe remix that your family will enjoy. JoeBob22's original recipe also used hominy, another not too common food ingredient from my Food Bank past.
Easy Recipe for Canned Salmon
Canned salmon is healthy and delicious!
Canned salmon is a prized ingredient in many Southern homes. If it isn't your radar yet, pass on this easy canned salmon recipe if it shows up on your warehouse floor or in your pantry box.
10 Things You Can Do with Fresh Pumpkin
October 31, 2010
The pumpkin pushing tips come from a lesson we shared at the Neighborhood Harvest Festival this past weekend. Our tips are divided into four categories: cooking, gardening, beauty and awareness.
Cooking (you can substitute pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for mashed sweet potatoes, like sweet potato souffle).
1) Homemade pumpkin pie, many websites like Allrecipes.com have great recipes for fresh pumpkin.
2) Pumpkin pancakes
3) Roast the pumpkin seeds and eat them whole. A handful has 19 grams of protein, 5 B Vitamins, magnesium, iron and monounsaturated fats. The chewy shells are great from prostate health.
4) Freeze the pulp for later use in recipes.
5) Pumpkin pie bread pudding. My article on Helium.com tells you how to make gourmet bread pudding that will please any palate.
6) Don't roast all of the seeds. Save some for the garden. Clean them off and let them dry completely in a sunny window. Save them for use in your garden next summer. We live on the Coastal Plain so Clemson Extension recommends that we plant pumpkin seeds July 1-15.
7) Toss the moldy carved pumpkin in the compost pile instead of the landfill. Cut it up first so it'll break down quicker.
8) Vibrantglow.com recommends that fresh pumpkin makes a great skin exfoliator. That's because pumpkin is "chock full of rich vitamins, amino acids and enzymes - just like the hottest beauty products out right now, but for a fraction of the cost. This homemade natural treatment will gently exfoliate the skin like an alpha-hydroxy acid to minimize fine lines, age spots, freckles and rough skin." Apply the pureed pumpkin to your face and let it set for 10 minutes before rinsing. Don't know how to cook fresh pumpkin.
9) Popular natural hair expert, CurlyNikki recommends using pumpkin as a deep conditioner. After washing your hair, mix 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, and 2 Tbsp honey. Let the mixture cool to room temperature (if the pumpkin is hot when you mixed it) before applying it to your hair. Apply the pumpkin conditioner to your hair in sections, smoothing down the cuticle. Let it sit for 10-30 minutes depending on your hair type or the level of dryness. Rinse with cool water.
10) Spread the word. I know a lot of food banks across the country will get volumes of pumpkin donations in the coming weeks and months.
G's Top 10 Food Bank FAQ's
Food stamps (aka SNAP) recipients can get food bank food
If you've ever spent time as a Food Bank employee, you have literally heard every food related question under the sun. This article will hopefully answer a few of the most common questions I received and inform the public of how food banks operate.
Question 1: Who is eligible to receive emergency food assistance?
Basically any person or family who doesn't have the food they need to make a healthy meal (food insecure). PLEASE NOTE: While anyone with an emergency need is eligible to receive food assistance, different food pantries are also free to set guidelines on who they choose to serve (a specific neighborhood or town, the homeless, pregnant teens, seniors, etc.).
Question 2: Our organization wants to host a fundraiser to benefit Project XYZ. Can we get discount food from the Food Bank?
No, using emergency food supplies for fundraisers is one of the big no-no's from Feeding America. Individual Food Banks can't even do it.
Question 3: Are Food Banks and Angel Food programs the same?
No. With Food Banks, all food and grocery items are distributed to clients at no charge. Whether you receive one bag of bread or 80 pounds of food. IF A FOOD PANTRY IS CHARGING CLIENTS (OR ASKING FOR DONATIONS) IN EXCHANGE FOR FOOD REPORT THEM RIGHT AWAY. Angel Food programs charge a fee for the food they distribute.
Question 4: My daycare center accepts children who receive ABC benefits (state funded child care assistance for low income families). Can we participate in the Kids Cafe or Backpack Buddies program?
No. Kids Cafe is an after school childhood feeding program. Food Banks typically collaborated with nonprofit and faith based organizations that offer free or low cost childcare services AND do not charge a fee for food. These programs are mostly located where schools have free/reduced lunch rates that are 50% or higher. Food Banks often work public schools to operate Backpack Buddies programs a weekend childhood feeding program. A Food Bank's ability to offer these programs depends heavily on available funding.
Question 5: My cousin's church is a member agency of a Food Bank. Can they help us buy Food Bank food for our Christmas Basket program?
Yes they can, but these types of transactions can put the member agency at risk if the unaffiliated program misuses the food and grocery items they were given or they rack up a sizable balance at the Food Bank. Think of sponsoring a non member organization the same way you'd think about co-signing on a loan, proceed with caution.
Question 6: What type of organizations qualify to become member agencies of a Food Bank?
Nonprofit organizations with a valid federal 501c3 and faith based organizations with 501c3 designation or documentation of its affiliation to a larger church. Some Food Banks also want to see the budget history to ensure new organizations have the resources necessary to sustain their feeding program.
Question 7: Why doesn't my food pantry have more food products like eggs, milk and flour?
Food Banks do not operate like grocery stores. The items that are available within the warehouse are determined by what's available within the Feeding America network (or the food and grocery items connected to donors). For those mysterious or random food items, check out the list of recipe ideas at the end of this page.
Question 8: My local food pantry gives out food with expired dates. Should they be reported?
Not necessarily. Food safety experts work with Feeding America to determine shelf life details. Many foods are still safe to eat well past their expiration date. If however, your food bank has a consistent habit of distributing food that is moldy, or improperly wrapped (holes in plastic), then contact your area food bank.
Question 9: Our food pantry was giving away tons of peanut butter right after that big recall last year. Were they giving away tainted peanut butter?
Probably not. When a specific brand of food is recalled, consumers typically stop buying that specific food item and any similar food items, whether they were affected by the recall or not. As such, food banks often receive large donations of foods, like peanut butter, within weeks or months of the announcement. Normally, there's someone on staff who keeps up with the recalled products to be sure that they don't get distributed to clients. If you're having trouble locating a facility that will serve you, use Feeding America's Food Bank locator tool below and connect with your local Food Bank to find a food pantry that is able to serve you.
Question 10: Do Food Banks operate any other programs besides the Kids Cafe and Backpack Buddies programs?
Many food banks do offer other programs. One that comes to mind is the USDA or TEFAP program. You can read the article on the shelf life of expired foods for more details about the USDA or TEFAP program.
Need Food Assistance? Use Feeding America's