MARSHALL - The smell of a hot grill wafted across the parking lot at Western Community Action Monday afternoon, inviting anyone to drop by and sample the wares.
It was all part of the Simply Good Eating program of the University of Minnesota Extension.
"We're doing grilled chicken breasts with peppers, onions, and plums, all from the food shelf," said Darlyce Rangaard, community nutrition educator with Lyon County Extension. "We're trying to show good cooking to the food shelf clients and how to cook a good meal."
Photo by Steve Browne
Lyon County Extension Educator Darlyce Rangaard, center, demonstrated how to grill good-tasting and nutritious meals from the Western Community Action food shelf on Monday afternoon. Pictured to her left is U of M Extension Coordinator Bonnie Ludeman.
Many say it's cheaper to eat well than it is to eat poorly, if you know how to cook with what's available. The Simply Good Eating program aims to teach low-income clients how to eat well with limited resources.
The WCA food shelf is open three days a week, serving an average of 50 clients per day and between 700 and 750 families a month, according to Margaret Palan, food shelf director.
"This produce was all part of our food rescue project through markets in town," Palan said. "We're just trying to teach people to prepare food in different ways."
Food shelf items are donated by people and businesses in the community. Some is preserved food approaching its sell-by date but still good. Some is produce which must be distributed within a limited time.
"The importance of this is to show how to use food that comes from the food shelf," said Bonnie Ludeman, U of M Extension coordinator for the nine county Southwest Region. "How grilling your foods is a simple way to prepare food, is quick and easy and brings out some different flavors in foods."
Circumstances lead to surpluses of some food stuffs. The Simply Good Eating project tries to teach people to make use of the food resources that are on hand, to prepare good and nutritious meals that people will consume.
"I visit once a month with a food sample," Rangaard said. "They may have a lot of something and I try and show them how to make a meal of it."
Rangaard said the food pantry may let her know in advance what they have a surplus of so she can prepare a demonstration. Monday's demo was on outdoor grilling, but it might be indoor cooking, or slow cooker meals.
Ross Safford works for the UM Extension and has a background as a chef.
"We have 110 people around the state in nutrition education for low-income audiences," Safford said.
Aside from once-a-month cooking demonstrations, Rangaard teaches cooking classes Wednesday evenings at WCA where she takes advantage of the community garden to teach how to cook, can and freeze fresh food.