This past Saturday I spent the morning at a training session for a new program, sponsored by the Chester County Food Bank (CCFB), called Taste It!. I went to the training with another volunteer from the food cupboard. In addition to us, attendees included a few nutrition students from West Chester University, a representative from another food pantry and several individuals interested in volunteering with this program through the CCFB at various food pantries and at the Fresh2You Mobile Market. Volunteers with the Taste It! program prepare a nutritious recipe, provide samples of the prepared recipe and information about healthy cooking on a limited budget.
The Taste It! program is very similar to what I have wanted to see offered through food cupboards and pantries. The program does not seek to preach at participants about eating more nutritiously, but rather to introduce them to various fresh produce and other healthy foods and to demonstrate how easy to prepare, flavorful recipes using just a few ingredients can be. The simple recipes try to emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, utilize low cost or cupboard provided ingredients and provide adequate seasonings so that they taste appealing. I appreciate that the CCFB encourages Taste It! volunteers to modify the recipes provided so that they use actual ingredients available in a specific pantry or cupboard and to use recipes created by the volunteers or shared by clients, provided they follow the criterion above. I am additionally pleased to see that volunteers are encouraged to consider the cultural appropriateness of the recipes they choose to prepare.
The training took place at the Chester County Food Bank and in addition to providing an overview of the program and proceedures, included a tour of the facility and a basic cooking and knife skills demonstration by a guest chef. We finished the training with hands on cooking of some of the recipes. The attendees were divided into 4 groups and prepared 4 different recipes provided by the Food Bank. Once completed we sampled all of the dishes and discussed the cooking process, our thoughts on the recipes and what we might discuss when presenting the recipe. For participating in the Taste It! program our food cupboard will receive a cooking kit, which includes bowls for ingredient display and mixing, measuring spoons and cups, a can opener, a cutting board, a knife, cooking utensils, a few basic ingredients like seasonings, oil, vinegar and soy sauce and an electric skillet for preparing the recipes. These items will facilitate the implementation of this program.
I am excited about this program and was glad to have been included in the training. We already have tremendous interest from a many of our clients with regard to fresh produce and eating healthier. This program will serve to grow that support and further assist our clients in making healthier food choices.
Showing someone that a recipe sample is delicious can be much more powerful than telling them that it is “healthy”!
From the Taste It! Program Volunteer Handbook