Much that is written, said, and believed about food pantries is simply not true. Maybe the problems themselves are somehow created by those of us who work at the food pantries. I admit it. I encounter people all the time who believe things about pantries that are simply untrue. I’ve been listening to these people for 10 years.
And, somehow, I’ve been unable to dispel these fallacies. I listen. I talk to the people. I certainly have the facts. I have the statistics. I have the stories. Somehow, they just don’t seem to hear the real story.
So, now, with this post, I’m hoping to debunk 3 myths anyway.
FOOD PANTRIES FEED A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO DON’T NEED THE FOOD.
I don’t know how this rumor got started. In the last few years many, many more people have been using food pantries than in times past. Many pantries have long waiting lines for the hungry. No one goes to a food pantry unnecessarily. The waits are too long, the selection is often minimal.
THANKSGIVING IS THE BEST TIME TO DONATE FOOD TO A FOOD PANTRY BECAUSE PEOPLE GO TO FOOD PANTRIES DURING THE HOLIDAYS MORE THAN ANY OTHER TIME OF YEAR.
Food pantries need your donations of food/expertise/time/money all year long. People don’t just get hungry in November.
Frankly, the neediest time of the year for pantries/soup kitchens/shelters is August. Summers are pretty lean but August is severe. Pantries need your canned/baked goods, shelf staples all year long. If you have a garden which is producing too many tomatoes please share this fresh produce with your area pantry. If you suddenly find yourself cleaning out your kitchen, please bring those cans and boxes you’ll never use to the pantry.
September is a good time to donate peanut butter, jelly, and other school lunch snacks to your neighborhood pantry.
ONLY PEOPLE WHO QUALIFY FOR SNAP CAN GO TO A FOOD PANTRY.
I don’t know how this rumor got started either. Often a food pantry is a supplement to a household’s SNAP budget. But there are many, many people shopping at food pantries who never make it to the SNAP office. Some food pantries get visits from people wanting to sign them up for SNAP.
Actually, it would be wonderful if more people would get both SNAP benefits and food pantry food. This is true for the elderly especially. Often, people are afraid of going to the SNAP office. They’re afraid they won’t be able to find it. They are afraid they may not be able to answer the questions. In rural areas, the fear is that it will take too much gas.
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“I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” is coming soon! Hopefully, when this book is published, I’ll have more time to post articles on this blog.
Cover art for this book was contributed by Michele Garner.
More and more pantries offer fresh vegetables and fruits. A challenge sometimes is making it last when it gets to your kitchen. Following are a few tips to help keep the food better. Even though it’s only going to be around for a day or two before you eat it, you want it to look its best, taste its best, and have the most nutrients possible.
FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Store LETTUCE, SALAD GREENS, and MUSHROOMS in a refrigerator on the middle or lower shelf away from fans because these items freeze quickly.
CUCUMBERS suffer from chill damage. You’ll have better luck with them if you store them on an upper shelf or on the door of the refrigerator.
CITRUS FRUITS release ethylene gas so it’s best to separate CITRUS FRUITS, MELONS AND APPLES away from delicate foods such as LETTUCE.
Some fruits and vegetables should not be refrigerated: BANANAS, GRAPEFRUITS, LEMONS, LIMES, MANGOES, MELONS, ORANGES, PAPAYAS, POTATOES, ONIONS, TOMATOES, AND AVOCADOS all do better when stored on a counter top.
Ripening some fruits on a counter top is best: AVOCADOS, KIWI FRUIT, NECTARINES, PEACHES, PEARS, AND PLUMS. After these foods are ripe, you may choose to put them in the refrigerator.
Fruits to store in the refrigerator include: APPLES, APRICOTS, BLACKBERRIES, BLUEBERRIES, CHERRIES, CUT FRUITS, FIGS, GRAPES, ASIAN PEARS, RASPBERRIES, STRAWBERRIES
Vegetables to store in the refrigerator include: ASPARAGUS, GREEN BEANS, LIMA BEANS, BEETS, BROCCOLI, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CABBAGE, CARROTS, CAULIFLOWER, CELERY, COLLARD GREENS, CUT VEGETABLES, ESCAROLE, GREENS, GREEN ONIONS, LEAFY VEGETABLES, LEEKS, LETTUCE, MUSHROOMS, PEAS, RADISHES, SPINACH, SUMMER SQUASHES, AND SWEET CORN.
When working with poultry, the wrapping should be completely unbroken with no punctures.
Raw poultry should have a fresh smell with no odor. It should be firm to the touch. It should not be sticky. There should be no discoloration. The internal temperature of raw poultry should be lower than 40F degrees.
Poultry should be stored separately from all other foods. It should be kept on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator to prevent contamination from dripping.
Anything that comes in contact with poultry or its juices should be cleaned and sanitized immediately.
Frozen poultry should have no soft spots.
Partially thawed poultry should be used immediately.
Poultry cannot be kept at room temperature for more than two hours.
Wash hands immediately after handling poultry.
Milk stays fresh up to six days past the sell-by date. Frozen milk can be stored longer.
If milk sours, use it in a baking recipe calling for buttermilk.
Sour milk is not unsafe to drink.
COTTAGE CHEESE, YOGURT, SOUR CREAM, AND CREAM CHEESE are considered to be cultured products with a longer shelf life than milk. If the container is open, cultured products can be used up to six weeks past the sell-by date.
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Peace and food for all.