The Central Illinois Foodbank, which serves 21 counties in the area, has combined one part Food Network and one part Antiques Road Show in its quest to familiarize patrons with the preparation of healthy food options available to them.
Since 1982, the foodbank has collected food donated by growers, manufacturers, processors, distributors, and retailers and distributed it to charitable organizations, such as church food pantries, throughout its vast service territory. But too often, foodbank staffers found that such foods as fresh vegetables would linger on the agency's shelves. Why? Because clients simply weren't familiar with - and didn't know how to prepare - these new-to-them food items. That's when the foodbank decided it was time to take their food show on the road.
Thanks to generous corporate donations, the not-for-profit agency now uses a mobile food cart - powered by a portable generator and equipped with a cooktop, convection oven, sink and various child-safe knives and utensils - to take the message of healthy food choices directly to the people. The cart can be set up in a church parking lot or the common area of an apartment complex. Before you can say Julia Child, foodbank staff can give a hands-on food preparation experience to their clients.
To find out more about how the Central Illinois Foodbank is using its food cart and other innovative programming ideas to get nutritious food into the stomachs of those who need it most, read Allison Weber's in-depth article at: