Please, step up to my table and stay awhile! I have free food and handouts that are sure to pique your interest. You say those are veggies on the table? Why yes, they’re good for you. Oh, don’t say that like it’s a bad thing! “Healthy” is not a evil word. In fact, “healthy” can mean both “delicious” and “fulfilling”, as in: “This healthy food is delicious and fulfills all my body’s needs!” Yes, I know healthy food like fruits and veggies can be expensive, but let me tell you some ways to fit them into your budget.
… so, Jessie, what have you been doing for the past couple of weeks?
As part of my education to become a Registered Dietitian, my Coordinated Program incorporates supervised practice out in the community, in hospitals, and in food service settings. My current rotation is in community nutrition, which means my classmate (hey, Bri!) and I drive all over the state, setting up education tables and giving nutrition lessons. The picture above is from a table we womanned at a Farmers’ Market.
Because our community nutrition program is funded by SNAP-Ed (SNAP = Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formally known as Food Stamps), we work in many low-income and disadvantaged communities in the state. Many of these communities don’t have the resources or knowledge to buy and prepare healthy foods – and that’s where some organizations in the community come in!
Our first placement was at Freshplace, an innovative food pantry that, instead of handing out bags of food to participants, has them choose their own foods from a warehouse set up like a grocery store. People are able to choose the foods they like (from what is available), and so will be more likely to eat it.
Our education table:
Something I learned from Freshplace’s food source, Foodshare, is that food pantries find donations of money MUCH more useful to them than food donations, because they can buy more nutritious food in greater quantity than the food that’s donated. So, the food drives around the holidays are great, but money donations are more useful. Besides, if you didn’t want that can of sauerkraut, I don’t think the food pantry patrons will either ;)
A few more pictures from community nutrition:
If you drank two 12-oz regular sodas every day for a month, this oversize “can” is how much soda you would drink. The sack next to the can is the FIVE POUNDS of sugar you would have consumed during that time.
A display showing how much sugar is in different foods (people get a kick out of this one). The two test tubes on the right show how much sugar is in a 12-oz fruit punch. Those test tubes are heavy.
Teaching elementary school kids about healthy eating and physical activity:
How about a little MyPyramid action?
Many of the people we encountered have to do without as many fresh foods as we’re accustomed to, instead relying on canned and packaged foods (which can be notoriously high in calories and low in nutrients). They may not know what to do with them. For instance, they might pick up a can of salmon at the food pantry and wonder: “What now?”
While canned salmon is not as visually or texturally satisfying as fresh salmon, it does offer a much needed hit of nutrients to low-income families, including healthy fats, calcium, and protein. I decided to try making the easiest, cheapest, and tastiest recipe I could, and I hope I can share this recipe with other families I meet in community nutrition. I’ve included the prices so that I can see how much this recipe costs (assuming items like mayo and yogurt are bought in large quantities).
Salmon Burgers on a Budget
1 14.5 oz. canned salmon (tuna and other canned meat would work as well, and probably lower the cost) – $4 (on sale)
1 egg – $0.25
1/4 cup bread crumbs – $0.13
4 whole grain hamburger buns or 8 slices whole grain bread – $1.50
1 tsp mayo – $0.02
1/4 cup nonfat yogurt – $0.11
1 clove garlic – $0.06
Pinch salt – $0.01
My sis Courtney grew this garlic herself. Nice.
I started by mashing the garlic in our molcajete with the salt, then added the mayo and yogurt and mixed. Let sit in the fridge while making the burgers to allow the flavors to meld.
For the burgers: mix salmon, egg, and breadcrumbs and form into four patties. Cook in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side, or until egg is cooked and outside is crispy. Add sauce and enjoy.
Total cost = $6.08, cost per serving = $1.52. The cost of this recipe is a little higher than most of the recipes that we give out in the community, but the burgers provide whole grains, healthy fats, calcium, and many vitamins and micronutrients in the accompanying salad (56 cents per serving).
Q: What’s your favorite “budget” meal? Do you have a local food pantry?