Cornell Cooperative starts program with local food pantries
For those looking for a way to make an already thin grocery dollar stretch even further, the answer can be found at the Whitehall United Methodist Church.
As part of the Whitehall Ecumenical Food Pantry, Marie Monty, a Washington County Cornell Cooperative Extension nutrition educator, will be hosting monthly Eat Smart New York Workshops to run in conjunction with the open hours of the pantry.
“We are doing a series of workshops at the food pantry to help people stretch their food dollar,” said Monty. “As the price of everything escalates people are leaving the store with less but spending more. The Pantry is seeing an increase in demand and we are hoping to tag team both of these issues by offering suggestions through this program on how much bang you can get for your buck.”
The ESNY program is open to limited-income individuals or families, youth and teen groups and senior and adult groups and teaches ways to buy more food with less money, budgeting and menu planning and learning how to create and eat healthier meals.
“We try to get people to think of different ways to use their ingredients in different meals or dishes,” said Monty. “You could give people a can of chicken meat that they will use to make three sandwiches and teach them how to combine it with other simple items to make a much larger meal that may even have left-overs for later.”
Monty and the food pantry held a test run of the program in November, and said that the response was very good.
“We have the program while the food pantry is open,” said Monty. “While their packages are being prepared, they can come in, sit down and watch and participate in the class. They get a chance to see it done and what we are doing and get a chance to taste the finished product to see if it would be something that they would be interested in using in their own homes.”
Monty said that there are a number of lessons planned for the coming months, the next taking place on Thursday, Feb. 12 during the regular pantry hours starting at 11 a.m.
“We are looking into doing different things,” said Monty. “One thing that Ginny (Deyo) and I have talked about is doing something with eggs since the food pantry gives those out as part of their packages.”
For the purposes of the food pantry, Monty said that the program’s goal was to help people expand upon their assistance.
“We hope to expand peoples’ use of the food pantry resources,” said Monty.
Along with the Whitehall Ecumenical Pantry, Monty said that Cornell Cooperative Extension is looking for other pantries and locations to run the ESNY program.
“We will do this program at any pantry that would like to do something like this,” said Monty. “We are always looking for others who want to join with us in promoting healthy eating and ways to stretch the food dollar.”
Monty said that dates beyond Feb. 12 would be scheduled based on weather conditions and need, but that the program would operate monthly.
“We will play it by the weather for the rest of the winter,” said Monty. ‘we are going to be doing this monthly now.”
Monty said that they chose to have the next meeting on Feb. 12 to help those who may need help feeding more mouths during the winter recess.
“We wanted to do this on the week before school let out for vacation because there are people out there who will find themselves having to feed their children at lunch time when the kids would have usually been in school. Hopefully, we can help them get a little extra stuff and show them ways to make it last throughout the week and month.”
For more information on the Eat Smart New York program or the Whitehall Ecumenical Food Pantry, call either the ESNY program at 1-800-548-0881 or the pantry at 499-2039.