After having our presentation go fabulously we were able to share some knowledge that we have accumulated from research on food and poverty. In class we talked, baked, and ate, what could be better? We were able to teach new recipes to the class for our upcoming recipe book to improve use of fresh produce for low income families on a budget. Among the recipes was an apple tart, butternut squash, and kohlrabi salad, all of which turned out tasting fabulous. Along with expanding our palette we as a class also were about to begin thinking outside of the box on the challenges that face those who may be cooking with food stamps. Beyond the challenges of purchasing fresh produce is also the simple challenge of having the right tools for the job. As presenters we wanted to make sure the class was conscious of this as well, since we did not have a rolling pin, we also had to think creatively about cooking so we used a Pringles can to help us flatten our dough. Thinking in this manner has helped to keep cooking fun, simple, and realistic for those who challenge to eat healthy with minimum resources. Soon to come: our recipe book! Stay posted for our upcoming projects.
As crunch time is upon us for our presentation, we are well on our way to being prepared. After numerous outings to the South Bend Farmers Market, phone calls to various food pantries around campus, and a few changes of plans to keep this project moving in the right direction, we are preparing to share with the class all that we have learned in the the past month. Everyone should come to class with a hungry tummy, creative thinking, and excitement, because we promise not to disappoint. See everyone in class on Tuesday!
We made our way back to the farmer’s market the next Thursday as planned, but upon arrival we learned that the president was not in fact in the office. Luckily, we were allowed to talk to the vendors anyway. The first vendor we spoke with turned out to have a wealth of information. He runs a small stand, but sells a large variety of produce ranging from tomatoes to kolrabi. Because of the small size of his operation, he said that he would be unable to donate to food pantries, but he did share an interesting opinion of donating produce. He argued that it does not make sense to donate many kinds of produce, especially the more obscure varieties, because people who visit the pantries do not know how to use it anyway. He also informed us that several of the vendors already do donate their leftovers to the Catholic Worker House. We were happy to hear that the food was not going to waste, but slightly discouraged because that meant that our initiative was possibly unnecessary at the farmer’s market.
After saying goodbye to the first vendor, we talked to members of a family farm that sells produce at the market. They were interested in our idea and though they are not currently donating their leftover produce (they use it for compost and such, so don’t worry it’s not going to waste!), they were interested in the possibility so they took our information and promised to talk it over with their family. After speaking with a third vendor, we got the impression that tax deductions are not major motivators for vendors when they are considering whether to donate their unsold produce, which surprised us slightly.
Overall, the day felt both productive and unproductive. We met many vendors and learned a lot about what vendors are currently doing with their unsold produce, but the fact that most of them were already donating what they can leaves little for us to do. Currently we are waiting to hear back from the one farm while reassessing the direction of our project. We will keep you up to date with any exciting news!
Early in the morning of November 1st, all three of us made our way over to the South Bend Farmer’s Market with plenty of coffee in our mugs. We were excited to get a chance to give the president of the market our proposal for F.R.I., and we hoped to get positive feedback on our project from him and from the vendors. Our hopes turned out to be a little too ambitious, as the president was not in the office as planned, and we could not speak to the vendors until he reviewed our proposal. We handed our proposal to the friendly secretary and after spending a few minutes scoping out the market we headed back to campus. Our trip was not in vain however because it gave us a chance to explore all that the market had to offer, which included five or six vendors who still had plenty of produce for sale despite the impending winter cold. Later in the day, we received an encouraging call from the secretary who informed us that we would most likely be given permission to speak with vendors but that the president would like to meet with us the following Thursday. We will let you know how that meeting goes!
Greetings from F.R.I., the Food Redistribution Initiative!
To give you a little background on our project we are are group of three Notre Dame seniors working to collaborate with the South Bend Farmers Market and local food pantries to be able to provide fresh produce to those living on the margins. Much of what is received by clients who reach out to the food pantry for food assistance is canned or highly un-nutritious. At F.R.I. we want to be able to change this problem.
We have noticed that within the extended South Bend community there are farmers who have excess produce that goes unsold at the market. As redistributors our intention is to connect the farmers with particular pantries and get fresh produce on family dinner tables and in hungry mouths, rather than letting it go to waste and lose profitable value.
As we begin our journey of discovery and collaboration, we would love for you to join along and enjoy the adventures along the way! Check out our blog routinely for updates on how the project is moving along!