Kirsten Poland and Chris Farrin, Juniors at Lincoln Academy in the Alternative Education Program have spent much of the spring heavily involved at the Ecumenical Food Pantry of Newcastle, Maine. In conjunction with their required Health curriculum, Kirsten and Chris learned valuable skills in food preparation, food safety, healthy food shopping, budget shopping and served samples to those waiting in line for food assistance.
This idea came to the staff and students of Alternative Education after a conversation with the nutrition coordinator of Healthy Lincoln County, Lara Cogar. She identified a need in the community and knew of our continuing participation at the Ecumenical Food Pantry of Newcastle. Lara provided the students with some classes to prepare them: kitchen safety (hand washing, surface washing, separating food products), knife safety, shopping tips, and recipe conversions for all literacy levels.
Recipe selection was done with the help of the simple filter: what does the food pantry have a lot of at the moment? Once that was identified, Kirsten and Chris did an internet search for recipes that included the selected ingredients. Often, adaptations to recipes were done to increase the whole grains and vegetable content while decreasing fat and salt.
Food purchasing was done with money provided by grant funds through Healthy Lincoln County while the cooking was done at the Teague Street Learning Center in the Alternative Education Program. The meal was then transported to the Ecumenical Food Pantry on serving day – along with all of the supplies. Our area was set up, and we then served approximately 100 people.
Serving day consisted of – displaying the ingredients, serving a food sample, explaining to clients what each dish included for ingredients, offering a recipe, and offering a course sign-up so others could learn to shop on a budget.
1. Bean, Whole Wheat Pasta, and Kale Soup
2. Lebanese Lentil and Collard Green Soup
3. Apple Cinnamon Oat Bread and Chunky Oatmeal Cookies
Kristen Poland reflected with the following:
“The experience is very rewarding because we were helping people find new healthy meals with the ingredients available to them. Also, I noticed that all kinds of people need help with finances and food…no matter what they look like or what accessories they might have.”