Monday, March 3, 2014

Riverwest Food Pantry

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in."  ~Matthew 25:35

"Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off."  ~Paul Brodeur 

"To ensure that no one lacks bread, water, clothing, housing, work, health we need to recognize each other as children of the heavenly Father and so as brothers to each other, and conduct ourselves accordingly."  ~Pope Francis

Chef Paul, Sous Chef John, First Cook Mary

For the past eight months, my family and I have been spending the first Saturday mornings of the month volunteering at our parish's Riverwest Food Pantry.  It has been a beautiful opportunity for Paul and I to teach our children the importance of giving the gift of our time and love to others, as well as an opportunity to begin to build relationships with the poor in our community and to come to learn that despite any differences we might have, we really have a great deal in common with those who struggle with poverty, as we are all God's beloved children.

The Riverwest Food Pantry, under the direction of Vincent Noth, has been looking to expand its services beyond the simple distribution of food, and has developed a Health and Wellness Committee led by volunteer Jean De Vita.  One of the goals that the Health and Wellness Committee hopes to achieve is to teach the clients who regularly use the food pantry how to prepare healthy, low cost meals at home. Since my husband, Paul, and I, both have backgrounds in the food and nutrition industry, Paul as a chef, and myself as a dietetic technician working as a nutritionist for the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program, we were eager to help in this regard.

Last Saturday, the Riverwest Food Pantry held its first-ever food demonstration.  Paul, myself, and most of our five children, prepared a vegetarian chili recipe that was high in protein, yet low in calories, fat and sodium.  Paul offered a quick demonstration on preparing the chili and explained its versatility in regards to adding or eliminating ingredients or using it for other menu items such as a tortilla filling or a stuffed pepper ingredient. We offered chili samples to all of the food pantry clients and Vincent had copies of the recipe prepared for the clients to take home with them.  In addition, many of the recipe ingredients could be found at the food pantry so that the clients could more easily prepare the recipe for themselves in the upcoming week if they so desired.

My family and I had so much fun working together to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ in this very simple and easy endeavor, and we look forward to offering many more nutritious food demonstrations in the future.  I ask you to please support the Riverwest Food Pantry, or your own local food pantry, with your prayers, your gifts of food, time and service, and your financial donations, not only during this upcoming sacrificial season of Lent, but always.

Please visit the Riverwest Food Pantry website here to learn more.

Chef Paul's Vegetarian Chili-12 servings 
(a great meatless entree for Ash Wednesday!)

1 15oz can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can Black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red or white onion, diced
½ cup diced celery
1 T. minced garlic or ½  tsp. garlic powder
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 12 oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 T. chili powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Optional:  ½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms

Combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until all flavors are blended and vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.

Yield:  12 servings 1-1/2 cup each

Nutrition Information per serving:  200 calories, 2 g fat, 95 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 6 g protein

Note:  1 pkg. chili seasoning can replace the chili powder and cayenne but keep in mind that the sodium content will increase. And all beans can be substituted-for example-use four cans kidney beans or 2 cans black beans and 2 cans garbanzo beans, etc.

1 comment:

  1. Anne, what a great picture! I didn't know your husband was a chef...lucky you :) How wonderful that your family does this together! You have such great children...and I can see why! Thanks for the recipe! Perfect for Lent ;)