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Then comes the lesson.
“Now that the banana bread is available to our clients in the food pantry, not only are they getting a fresh and nutritious product, but they also see that produce which is past its optimal ripeness can be used in other ways,” said Schulz.
Which brings us to the second part of this innovation.
In order to introduce new foods to clients of the food shelves and to suggest ways to prepare the food, the commercial kitchen prepares samples to be handed out in the distribution area. If you’ve never tasted eggplant, you may be disinclined to pick it up at the food shelf to feed your family. Same with squash. The sampling effort shows clients how to use some items that may be unfamiliar, and not so incidentally, moves along the produce and other food that is available.
Then there are the cooking classes, offered in the same room as the commercial kitchen, with the help of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
“We make simple recipes that use whatever the food shelf has a large amount of,” said Maria Teresa Thoreson, an extension educator. “Many clients want to know how to make better choices. If given basic information, they start making healthier choices.”
We could start with banana bread.
Follow Lee Svitak Dean on Twitter: @StribTaste