Pantry Panic Training: Eating Healthy on a Shoestring Budget

Last friday, 22 community development workers from Homeport came to the Food Fort for the second of two training sessions led by the director of nutrition at MidOhio Foodbank. She developed the Pantry Panic curriculum to educate people on how to design a meal plan that fits MyPlate‘s recommendations while still keeping costs low. She also touches on table-setting, sourcing food from a food-pantry, and how to shop efficiently by planning ahead. The curriculum is meant to be broken up into four sessions, so we walked through the first two classes on the first training day, and last friday we worked on the last two classes.

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After the training session, the community development workers at Homeport will be teaching the curriculum in the community. Homeport is a non-profit organization that offers safe and affordable housing in various neighborhoods of Columbus. In addition, they lead community groups for a wide range of age groups that focus on increasing financial literacy and development of various life skills. They plan to incorporate the Pantry Panic curriculum into some of their community groups now that they’ve gone through the training to teach the class.

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The training class was highly successful in terms of how much we all learned, but it was also a lot of fun! On the last day of Pantry Panic, participants receive a mystery box with a variety of produce, either meat or beans for their protein, and rice or pasta. They are then to create a casserole that incorporates all of their ingredients and using a very basic recipe. This recipe as well as the others in the curriculum focus on making a meal based on what’s in the pantry rather than relying on extra trips to the grocery store to fill in the gaps.

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The flurry of activity in the kitchen resulted in a wide variety of casseroles. For example, one group made a vegan sweet-and-sour dish, while another incorporated a white sauce they made earlier that day for an Italian fair. At the end of the training session, all the groups had a chance to try out any or all of the casseroles.

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We look forward to assisting them in any way we can so that Pantry Panic can reach their communities. Our partners at MidOhio Foodbank and Homeport were wonderful to work with–we can’t thank them enough for their hard work they do in Columbus, Ohio.

(Note: This post was by Lydia Whittington, whose last day at Food Fort was May 3rd, Thank you Lydia for your hard work!).

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