Last week I ended my blog post mentioning my ‘follow the food’ project. If any folks missed my post last week, by saying ‘follow the food,’ I mean seeing what happens to the food donated to food pantries at the indoor farmers markets!
On Tuesday I had the opportunity to meet with Larry Brickner-Wood and Kelsey MacDonald, two of the many staff and volunteers who run the Waysmeet Cornucopia Food Pantry, to get some insight on how the pantry is run. For those of you who don’t know, Waysmeet is a combination of a food pantry, housing space for UNH students, and community center located in Durham, NH. Most students at UNH know Waysmeet for their community dinners and drum circles that occur on the first friday of every month (meaning this Friday!), but walk downstairs and you will find fridges, freezers, shelves, and tables stacked with food that is constantly being rotated and given away.
So for today’s post I’m going to start out by following some carrots that were donated to Waysmeet at the Exeter market on January 23rd. At the end of the market Kelsey and fellow Waysmeet volunteers gathered up their box of fresh veggies, sweets, and assorted products that were donated, and drove back to Waysmeet. Waysmeet has 3 traditional fridge/freezers, 3 stand alone freezers, 2 chest freezers, 14 shelves, and 6 tables that become filled with food when donations from Hannafords, When Pigs Fly Bread, the Beach Pea, Trader Joes, the Works, Paul College, farmers markets, and UNH MUB events arrive.
Donations are then processed by rotating the newer products to the back of the shelves and older products to the front to assure no waste occurs. Fresh produce that needs to stay cool is put into a fridge until the food pantry opens for pick-up. When the carrots from the Exeter farmers market arrived at Waysmeet they were placed on a shelf in a cool dark spot to keep them as fresh as possible until the food pantry opened on Tuesday at 4:30. When I arrived at Waysmeet, the food pantry was about to open and all of the vegetables were on display. I recognized mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, greens, leeks, and cookies from the box at the market all bagged up for individuals to take home.
Waysmeet has the ability to process and distribute frozen, boxed, canned, and fresh goods, meat, pastries, breads, and more to those in need. Most food pantries focus on dry goods, and the fact that Waysmeet has the facilities to process and distribute fresh foods in a timely manner was amazing to see! In next week’s post I’ll continue to follow the carrots I mentioned earlier and hopefully speak with some of the individuals who visit the pantry to pick up food every week.
Now for this weeks food waste challenge! Have you noticed that you can’t finish your loaf of bread before it starts to go stale or gets moldy? Here are some tricks to prevent your bread from ending up in the landfill! If your bread is starting to go stale, there are a few different things you can do:
Make breadcrumbs rather than buying a tin from the grocery store. Smash up your stale toast and store it in the freezer until you find the perfect recipe (stuffed mushrooms or breaded chicken anyone?) to use them on.
Love salad? Cut them into cubes and bake them with a little olive oil at 375 degrees for ~10-15 minutes and shake them around while they bake. These can be stored in the freezer as well, and pulled out when needed.
Make bread pudding, stuffing, french toast, panzanella, mac n cheese! The list goes on!
If you’re struggling with mold on your bread it is probably a storage issue. The best way to store bread is by putting most of your loaf in the freezer and thawing out small amounts in the fridge as you need them. Mold grows in warm wet places and your fridge is a climate controlled space, so use it!