Eat Well. Do Good Things.
That is the slogan for the Menu Makers program at Neighbors, Inc. The concept, brought forth by Neighbors volunteers, is to provide affordable, simple, healthy (and delicious) recipes for food shelf products. Each month a different product and different set of recipes is featured. Clients who visit the food shelf are given a copy of the recipe sheet along with the food product.
Food products featured in the past year have included common items in the food shelf such as cranberry sauce, black beans, kale, bananas, corn, tomato soup, canned salmon, brownie mix and boxed macaroni and cheese. Each of these featured products has been a labor of love for one of our dedicated volunteers, Sue. She spends countless hours collecting recipes from friends, family, other volunteers and other Neighbors supporters. She then arranges for a voting system to determine the best & most popular recipes. After the recipes are determined, she personally prepares each of them to make sure they pass her taste test. (Sometimes she brings in samples for volunteers & staff to try!) Once the recipes pass Sue’s test, she assembles a recipe display board to showcase the product and recipes and prominently displays it in the food shelf.
“While shopping with our clients, we began to wonder why some people took certain items while others didn’t. We realized that they most likely didn’t know how to cook with them,” Sue said. “We want to provide our clients with recipes that are healthy, affordable and simple. We want to help people learn how to cook with unfamiliar items.” Approximately 500 food products bundled with recipes are distributed to clients each month. So far, one of the most popular items distributed has been the canned salmon. According to Sue, “It was one of the largest distribution months ever. We highlighted our salmon patties recipe and encouraged shoppers (clients) to at least try one recipe. And they did! It was such a breakthrough for us. The shoppers were beginning to trust our program and, with encouragement, were willing to try new things.”
This program has been a wonderful addition to our food shelf. It has opened the door for conversations between staff, volunteers and clients about cooking, recipe-sharing and how to make healthy food choices. Click here for the featured product in December: Corn Flakes. We are looking forward to trying these and more delicious recipes in the months ahead!