Below is the second part of a series devoted to my experience volunteering with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and its partner Feeding America. Part one can be found here: Volunteering with Feeding America: A Little Time Goes a Long Way
Every food bank provides a different product mix to its member agencies. The Greater Chicago Food Depository guarantees the following 18 core items (and also send along available fresh produce as well):
- Pasta sauce
- Mac and Cheese
- Peanut butter
- Canned vegetables
- Canned fruit
- Shelf stable milk
- Hamburger patties
I never understood why food banks wanted monetary donations until I saw this list. Of course they need to have core items available for member agencies – and they can’t rely on consistent donations of the above staples. I guess my family has been lucky in life because I really have a hard time imagining a completely bare cupboard. The list of food items above is a good start to build a pantry of usable food items.
Using the list of core items, I assembled the following basic meals:
- Cereal and milk
- Peanut butter or jelly on toast
- Fried egg with toast
- Canned fruit in a little cup (on the side)
- Pasta and sauce
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Tuna sandwich
- Canned soup or canned stew with crackers on the side
- Hamburgers on bread
- Mac and cheese with canned veggies on the side
- Tuna mac
- Beans and rice
- Egg-fried rice with canned veggies*
*Recipe appears below
I wanted to see if I could create a fresh, healthy dinner from the ingredients given to people living with food insecurity. It is very possible, but it relies on the assumption that the family has a pan, a pot, a measuring cup, a spatula, and even cooking oil. You might be surprised to learn that some families don’t have basic cooking gear.
Egg-fried rice with veggies
I find egg and rice combined to be a comfort food. Sometimes I like an egg sunny-side up sitting on top of my rice, but for this recipe I shared how I mix scrambled egg into the rice. Do what appeals to you!
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
- 1 can mixed veggies
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 TBSP oil (canola or olive oil) plus additional to taste
Put rice and two cups of water in saucepan over medium heat. Open can of mixed veggies, drain and lightly rinse. Place veggies in with the rice. Turn heat to low, simmer with the cover on. Meanwhile heat one TBSP oil in large frying pan, add eggs, scramble. Add additional TBSP of oil and heat for a minute, and then add cooked rice and veggie mix to pan. Stir everything up to mix in cooked egg. Fry, stirring occasionally, for seven minutes. Serve hot.