Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sometimes you have to start small

especially when getting a congregation engaged with an issue. I've been racing ahead with all I've learned in the last five or six years about food system issues, but my congregation doesn't even fill up the basket of non-perishables for the local FISH pantry each week. Encouraging people to shop the sales and bogo offers wasn't working.

So I decided to create a food-of-the-month club. I interviewed Leona, volunteer manager of the pantry at FISH in Boyes Hot Springs. What do people really want? What items are rarely donated, or expensive to buy from the Redwood Empire Food Bank, or simply not available there? Turns out about 65% of the visitors to FISH are Latino. Things old white people drag out of the back of their pantries - canned beets, pork and beans are a couple of examples - aren't real hits. Folks ask for cooking oil - which is not available from REFB. They'd like some masa flour, or some sweetened condensed milk - not my fave, but there you go.

So I've put together a calendar of food pantry favorites, culturally appropriate foods, and healthful choices - and I'll use each month's item to do a little teaching. December was peanut butter month - an opportunity to talk about why p.b. prices are on the way up. This month, healthful cereals, and some conversation about whole grains and nutrition. This actually had me going where I never do - to the conventional cereal section at Raley's - and reading the boxes. Cheerios are way over rated. How do you tell if a cereal is whole grain? not by the front of the box, that's for sure. The first item on the list of ingredients should be a whole grain or whole grain flour. And the percentage of rda of fiber should be 10% or more - preferably 20%. One store brand cereal I found was named "Healthy Morning" - and had 2% of the rda for fiber. You have to eat pounds of fruits and vegetables to make up for that, when you could have had shredded wheat.

Stay tuned - I think I will post my notes for each subsequent month's food item here.

1 comment:

Phina Borgeson said...

The food basket was FULL of healthful cereals today. A real bonanza. I am so thankful for the way people have responded to Food of the Month!