Rush County Community Assistance (RCCA) Food Pantry has completed its “clean kitchen”. The kitchen passed an inspection by Rush County Health Department two weeks ago.
RCCA may now host cooking classes and repackage food items. The food pantry plans to offer cooking classes to its clients and those who need to learn cooking skills sometime during the first quarter of 2020.
“It’s really important because our focus has been on healthy eating since 2016,” Vice President of the RCCA Board Darrilyn Bedal said. “If we can provide families in need of assistance with the opportunity to prepare a healthy meal, maybe we are setting new habits. Maybe they will continue to do it and improve the health of the overall family.”
The food pantry hopes to help improve the results of county health assessments by offering cooking classes, Bedal said.
Classes will be offered in four-week courses. RCCA will have various individuals come in to present 30-minute educational programs about reading labels, stretching recipes, financing and using coupons.
Class participants will utilize slow cookers to make healthy meals for their families. Crock-Pots will be given to participants for free.
RCCA hopes class participants will prepare their Crock-Pots in the mornings and have hot meals waiting for their families after work. The food pantry will provide participants with food products from their shelves for meals.
“We want them to start thinking of the food pantry as a grocery store,” Bedal said. “Plan out your meals ahead of time and then shop the sleeves so you can actually make a meal.”
Food pantry clients will have first priority for cooking classes. The classes will open up to others in need of cooking experience as representatives from local social service agencies believe their clients can benefit from such a program.
RCCA’s first project as a clean kitchen will be repackaging two pallets of chopped dates for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. Gleaners will distribute the dates to other food assistance agencies after repackaging.
RCCA was able to construct its “clean kitchen” thanks to a $15,000 donation from the Buchanan Family Foundation of Chicago. The donation also helped the pantry upgrade food storage shelving and gave it the financial ability to offer cooking classes.