Spring is here, and April showers are quickly becoming May flowers – or vegetables!
One of the most cost-effective way to get fresh produce in your diet is to grow them right in your backyard. Many vegetables are easy to care for as long as you do the right amount of planning and preparation.
Involve your whole family in the planning process. This way, each family member can have a say in what they’d like to grow, and kids will get a better understanding of where food comes from.
Write it down! Not only will this make it easy to remember what you want to grow, it will serve as a reminder to get the job done. Use maps and diagrams to help you plan out your space more efficiently.
Water your bed before you clean it out. It may seem like a waste to water a bed full of weeds, but unwanted plants are pulled out more easily if the ground is wet. This will also help get the soil ready for new plants.
Skip the seeds. Many stores and even farmers markets sell sprouted plants at relatively low costs. By planting young plants instead of seeds, you’ll see results sooner. The cost is generally outweighed by the benefit, especially with plants like tomatoes, peppers or beans that yield more than one harvest throughout the season.
MINI Cooper is partnering with Feeding America during their Test Drive Program.
During the MINI Cooper Test Drive Program, Feeding America receives a $20 donation for every test drive. As a partner food bank, that money will help feed people in our region! Each test drive would mean 80 meals for families in need.
The program runs from April 15 – 24.
If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to give back to your community, visit MINI of St. Louis and test out a new MINI Cooper!
April is National Garlic Month, and our Registered Dietitian has several reasons for you to celebrate.
Garlic is very versatile, which makes it an easy and inexpensive addition to lots of dishes. Garlic is heart healthy because it reduces the risk of heart disease, and it’s antioxidant properties reduce the chance of getting colds and the flu. Additionally, it’s a good source of vitamins and minerals like potassium, iron, and calcium.
Kelly has put together recipes for two different dips that are easy to make, and great with a variety of crackers, vegetables or chips.
Easy Garlic Hummus
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt & pepper to taste
Blend garbanzo beans, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor; add reserved bean liquid into the mixture as it blends until desired consistency is achieved.
Garlic and Herb Yogurt Dip
1 cup plain, fat free Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, minced garlic clove, chopped chives, salt, pepper, dried dill, and lemon juice; serve with veggies, crackers, or chips.
PS: If you’re worried about garlic breath, eating an apple or drinking green tea can help neutralize garlic on your breath!
Starting April 1, 2016, more than 30,000 adults will lose food assistance in the form of SNAP. The recent cuts will affect able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). ABAWDs are classified as a person between the ages of 18 and 49 who has no dependents and is not disabled. Food banks and other food assistance charities are estimated to see an influx of people needing food assistance.
Additional facts about ABAWDs:
Adults must complete 80 hours of work or training a month. If they fail to meet this requirement, which is roughly 20 hours of work per week, they will lose their SNAP benefits.
ABAWDs who don’t meet the requirement can only qualify for three months of assistance in a 36 month period.
During the Great Recession states were able to apply for a waiver allowing them to lift the three month minimum and 80-hour work requirement. The waiver was set to expire in December 2015, but allowed states/counties with high unemployment rates to reimplement the waiver again.
Last year Missouri passed SB 24 which limits Missouri from applying for the waiver after it expired at the end of 2015. Missouri is refusing to seek the waiver even for their high unemployment areas that could continue to qualify.
According to the USDA Missouri currently falls 8th in overall food insecurity (16.8%) and 2nd in very high food insecurity (7.9%).
Although this requirement is touted as a work requirement, it is in fact a time requirement. Calling it a work requirement suggests that it encourages people to look for work and provides a training or workfare position to everyone subject to the time limit. This is not the case. Individuals who work up to 20 hours and those looking for work are still terminated after three months and cannot receive benefits for another three years.
The cold weather at last month’s Food Fair in Sullivan, MO, couldn’t keep volunteers from helping us feed families.
Todd came out with his father-in-law and helped sort and distribute thousands of pounds to their neighbors in need. Below, he describes how he learned about the opportunity and about his experience in his community. Thanks, Todd, for giving back with us!
“I first learned about the Food Fair a couple of years ago, when I became a board member of Meramec Community Mission. I’ve always wanted to participate and help distribute the food. I know many of our clients personally, and realize many of them can really use this extra distribution. The day of delivery was very windy & cold but the spirits were warm. All the volunteers were happy to help and It did not seem like work at all. It was a blessing that we could be there for others in our community that are less fortunate.
I can’t say that I ever experienced hunger, but I grew up very modestly. As I child, my brothers and sisters remember receiving pajamas every year from our Grandparents. We were never excited about that rectangle box, but as the years have passed it has become a cherished memory because of the love that wrapped that present. The gift of pajamas really helped my parents provide for our winter needs.”
Victory Dream Center in Carbondale, Ill., serves the Illinois counties of Jackson, Jefferson and Williamson
Founded as a church in 1998, Victory Dream Center transitioned to a more outreach- focused organization and connected with the St. Louis Area Foodbank in 2010. The Center’s services include a “Client Choice” food pantry open on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. “Client Choice” pantries allow people seeking food assistance to choose for themselves what products they receive, instead of being handed a bag/box of food to take home.
In addition, Victory Dream Center offers a Youth Outreach with dinner program on Wednesday evenings, and a hot buffet breakfast on Tuesday and Sunday mornings. Its Community Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., also allowing access to the pantry for emergency food assistance. Victory Dream Center serves food to an average of 900 families per month, which translates to about 2,500 individuals. Their Youth Outreach program provides activities and dinner to more than 125 children each week. “Many of the individuals we assist are currently homeless, without employment, or physically/mentally impaired,” notes Nathan Cherry, food pantry director. “We work to accommodate the specific needs of these individuals. We offer free classes for individuals who would like to find help and encouragement for emotional needs. We also offer transportation and access for anyone interested in speaking with a minister or attending spiritual meetings.” Twice weekly, the Center provides transportation for children, teenagers, adults and families to come there for food and support.
Responding to the Flood
The communities this vital agency serves have been dealt some particularly difficult blows in the past year. Recent cuts in state funding, due to Illinois’ financial crisis, have forced many other local support outreaches to reduce the level of assistance they can provide. As a result, Victory Dream Center has seen a rise in need among the people it serves. Panic and fear hit nearby Grand Tower as the recent floodwaters raged.
The Center obtains an array of food products from the Foodbank, including canned, boxed and frozen items, as well as fresh produce. The Foodbank delivers to Victory Dream Center twice a month and donated one of its old trucks to the Center two years ago, which it uses to pick up items from the Foodbank once a month. “These products are absolutely vital to our work,” Cherry notes. “These are the specific products we distribute in our community. We also use the products to cook and prepare our served meals. We cannot express in words how grateful we are for our partnership with the St. Louis Area Foodbank! It is one of the very best organizations you can possibly support with your donations; your dollars are multiplied many times over with the impact that the Foodbank can have on communities.”
What began with a few individuals at Ascension Parish interested in “giving back,” has grown into an ongoing commitment to supporting the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
On the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month, 15 to 25 people come to work the 9 a.m. to noon shift at the distribution center. Sometimes the numbers grow when they bring along family members, such as spouses, kids home from college or high school students on spring break. The parish posts information about volunteering at the Foodbank twice monthly in its Sunday bulletin, which helps generate interest and new team members. Ascension, located in Chesterfield, Mo., has a long history of volunteerism in the area of feeding the hungry.
The parish has operated the St. Nicholas Food Pantry located in St. Louis City for the past 30 years. The pantry is open every Monday from noon to 1:30 p.m. and served 4,682 individuals (2,323 families) last year. Families receive an average of 52 pounds of food per visit. The parish keeps the shelves stocked through restaurant and retailer donations, retail purchases, USDA products and the Foodbank. “Working at the Foodbank not only gives you a good feeling, in that you are helping provide food to those in need, but it’s also a workout and some great socialization with your fellow team members,” says volunteer Ken Bertha. “I know that I personally enjoy the opportunity and look forward to it. I know all of our regulars do as well.”
Our Registered Dietitian, Kelly Hall, discusses MyPlate and how to use it for a nutritious diet.
March is National Nutrition Month, so it’s the perfect time to talk about how to build a nutritious diet. You’ve probably heard about the food pyramid, but it can get difficult to translate what a typical meal should look like based on the food pyramid. That’s why the USDA created MyPlate – to help people visualize what a healthy diet looks like at each meal.
Kelly discusses the nutritional value of each food group and how your body uses each food group. You can find more helpful tips, recipes and information about nutrition at choosemyplate.gov and on our blog!