My knowledge of cooking challenges with Food Bank items was quite limited until I worked with the Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre (WEAC) in downtown Edmonton. As a full-time nutrition student, it became quite apparent that cooking for 75 women with food bank items was not only a huge challenge, but all the nutrition tips we would normally give out became irrelevant. Nutrients become less important, and finding creative ways to boost nutrition takes priority, such as adding in frozen or canned vegetables to meals. During my recent internship with the World Health Organization (WHO), I really began to understand what food security means. WHO defines it as “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” Some food for thought:

  • 53,512 people in Alberta turned to a food bank for food support in March 2012
  • 44% of individuals assisted, were children
  • 56% of those assisted are women and 46% are First Nations
  • 24% of assisted individuals had income from current or recent employment

During Alberta Milk’s recent Work on Wellness staff event, I created 3 meals using only food bank items to raise awareness of who is using the Food Bank and to remind everyone that the Food Bank is dependent on our donations. The most popular recipe was the Cheesy Tomato Macaroni Soup. As part of the event, we challenged Alberta Milk staff to create a healthy, tasty meal using a typical food hamper, including items such as:

  • Kraft dinner and other pastas
  • Pasta sauce
  • Canned or packaged soups
  • Soda crackers
  • Bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned vegetables, beans, meats and fish
  • Powdered milk

Think you’re up for the challenge? Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and your chance will come on June 3. For more information visit these quick links for your local Alberta Food Bank and other fun and tasty recipes.