Sherlock Holmes, Eat Your Heart Out

The Food Bank offers more than just groceries to families in need -- we also offer nutrition education focused on solving the mystery of how to eating right on a tight budget.

Catrina is known around here as the Food Bank’s resident dietary detective.

You likely already know that the Food Bank makes fresh food a priority. Finding the best prices on food is key to stretching every $1 you donate into $4 worth of food.

But to do that, we sometimes end up with ingredients that would mystify even the savviest home cooks.

That’s where Catrina, our nutrition education coordinator, comes in.

The fairytale pumpkin is a French heirloom variety that’s lovely for decorating – and good to eat. When the Food Bank found a great deal on the pumpkins, we brought in a truckload. And our nutrition detective, Catrina, got to work.

She combed through recipes, searching for delicious and nutritious ways to use the unique squash. Turns out, they’re great for soup.

Armed with recipes in three languages, Catrina set up right where our member agencies pick up food, dishing out samples of homemade pumpkin soup. Shoppers tried it themselves, and then took the pumpkins – and new recipes – to share with their clients.

It’s hard to make healthy choices when your budget is tight. Catrina’s next case: making healthy choices easy ones, too. 

Catrina hosts intensive, six-week Cooking Matters courses that focus on healthy eating, smart shopping and cooking skills for low-income people of all ages.

In the class, a working mom said she feared buying fresh broccoli, because it always seemed to wilt before she had a chance to cook it. Multiple trips to a store far from her neighborhood wouldn’t fit in her tight time and money budget.

Catrina suggested frozen broccoli – nearly as healthy, and a lot more convenient for busy people on a budget. Most importantly: no risk of wilting!

In each class, the students also learn a new recipe, take home a bag of ingredients so they can try it at home and talk about their successes and challenges when they meet again.

Our last case is one that nearly all food shoppers face: with multiple choices, how do you know which is best?

Our clients, like all Americans, often struggle with diet-related illnesses like hypertension, diabetes and obesity. It’s up to us to help our member agencies deliver the healthiest choices available to the clients they serve.

So when two types of canned tomatoes showed up in our shopping area, Catrina worked quickly to determine the differences. Turns out, one type had much less sodium – a great choice for our member agencies serving people with high blood pressure.

With a simple “LOW SALT!” sign slapped on the pallet, it was easy for those agencies to grab the cans that would help, not hurt, their clients’ health.

As a crucial source of food for 49,000 people each week, the Food Bank takes our role in people’s health seriously. That’s why we’re grateful for your support, which allows us to give more choices to people who often have few.

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