Story of the Week 2/2/2016

'Warm Me to My Soul' Soup for All!

By Hannah Baxter, Food Engagement Leader and Gleaning Coordinator at the Fairfield Community Center Association

recipe-312952_960_720On December 11th I conducted a taste test during the Food Bank Truck drop-off from 10-12 in the morning. The purpose of conducting a taste test during this time period is to provide the food shelf clients with resources, in this case a recipe card with nutrition education on the back, as well as inspiration to cook at home. In order to be effective, the recipe cards I develop must meet specific qualifications. Our clients face multiple barriers to eating nutritious local food. For instance, it was brought to my attention that not all of our clients have ovens let alone basic cooking appliances and instruments. The dishes must be able to be made in one or two pans. The food must be able to be prepared in a very simple matter, mostly with a knife, seasoning, and a stove top. The recipe cards must have limited ingredients, the ingredients must be seasonal, available at the food shelf, or affordable and accessible at the store. Finally, the food must be nutritionally filling, the recipes must be flexible, and ideally there will be leftovers for a second or third meal.

I asked the food shelf volunteers what the shipment of food contained. They mentioned that they were receiving canned vegetables as well as storage vegetables such as potatoes and onions. The Fairfield Community Center also is receiving a shipment of 10 pound packages of chicken thighs from the Vermont Food Bank every month until October 2016. The food shelf volunteers have been encouraging the food shelf clients to utilize a large roasting pan to defrost and cook the chicken in. Ten pounds of chicken legs is an intimidating amount of meat to work with. I wanted the recipe I taste tested to be able to incorporate the chicken in some way in order to provide a nutritious affordable source of protein. I decided on a soup because it is a one pan dish that produces many servings and which ingredients are highly adaptive.

I created a 'Warm me to my Soul Soup' where all the ingredients on the recipe card wereVHCB Acorps Logo
available at the food shelf. The soup incorporated onions, potatoes, cabbage, canned beans, canned tomatoes, and spices. On the back of the recipe card described how to roast the ten pounds of chicken, save the bones and fat to make a stalk. I made the soup with just water so I described to the clients how much better their soup would be with homemade stalk and shredded roasted chicken. I also emphasized how the recipe is very flexible and how different vegetables would work wonderfully in the soup. A soup taste test was also rewarding because it provided our clients with more a meal than a snack. I made enough that everyone could have seconds and at the end of the day there were no leftovers. The men and women I talked with seemed to genuinely enjoy the soup and were excited to give the recipe a try at home. It was empowering to be able to provide a resource that would nourish their families nutritional needs for a handful of meals. The majority of clients were very appreciative and thanked me multiple times and the volunteer staff reflected that the soup was a hit. The experience shaped my understanding of my communities needs and will guide me in future recipe development.

VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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