canned goodsSure, you can cook. But can you fix up a healthy, nutritious meal using only items available in local food pantries?

For the entire month of May, families, churches, local businesses and others collected non-perishable food and hearty produce for the Bucks County Opportunity Council’s (BCOC) second annual Adopt-A-Pantry project, a county-wide food drive to benefit more than 30 food pantries.

Adopt-a-Pantry 2014 ensures that pantries are well stocked for the summer, when shelves often go bare. This is the time of year when children are home from school and not able to eat a free or reduced–price school lunch or breakfast, on which many Bucks County families depend.

With an increased focus on providing healthy, nutritious food for pantry visitors, this year’s project collected hearty produce that won’t spoil and is easy to transport, such as apples, citrus fruits, potatoes, onions and garlic, or herbs and spices, in addition to the usual nonperishable goods.

cooking class_ chef-cuttingPantry Cook-Off. In order to make sure these healthy foods are put to good use, the BCOC and United Way Bucks are hosting a cook-off from 10 – 11 am  on Friday, May 30 to challenge members of the community to make tasty, nutritious meals using ingredients that can be found in Bucks County food pantries. These include Bucks Knock Out (BKO) Hunger prepackaged meals, non-perishable items and hearty produce. The best recipes will be distributed at the food pantries to help visitors spice up their meals.

There are a few guidelines to ensure the recipes are accessible to all:

Recipe Criteria:

  1. Ingredients: Recipes should include a BKO hunger meal pack (macaroni and cheese, or rice and beans) and no more than 5 additional ingredients from the “Common Food Pantry Items.” Unlimited herbs and spices are permitted.
  2. Nutrition: Recipes should follow the USDA MyPlate nutritional recommendations to provide a well-balanced meal. Each dish should include fruits or vegetables and incorporate lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
  3. Cost: Participants will be given a prepackaged BKO Hunger meal. They should not spend more than $5 (per recipe) to incorporate commonly donated foods into their recipe.
  4. knive can opener cutting boardCooking Utensils/Methods: It’s important to remember that state of the art cooking utensils are not readily available in every household. All recipes should use only basic utensils: a knife, a cutting board and a can opener to prep the food. Meals must be cooked on a stovetop or in the microwave (no baking).
  5. Ease: Recipes should take no more than 30 minutes to prepare & cook.

Common Food Pantry Items:

Non Perishables: Rice, pasta, canned beans, canned meat (tuna, chicken), canned vegetables, canned fruit, shelf stable milk, applesauce, pasta sauce, peanut butter, bread (bakery donation).

Produce: Kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, lettuce, kohlrabi, eggplant, broccoli.

Meats: Hotdogs, chicken quarters, ground beef/ground venison.

The cook-off will take place from 10 – 11 am this Friday, May 30 at Delaware Valley College in their Moumgis Auditorium (in the Student Center; click here for directions).

Participants should provide a copy of their recipe to Eileen Albillar at ealbillar@bcoc.org or Katie Pilot at marketing@uwbucks.org by Wednesday, May 28.

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