LIMA — Assessing her box of “food pantry” items, Taylor Woodie prepared to write down a recipe for French toast. But wait: No cinnamon, or any seasoning for that matter.
Instead, the OSU-Lima student was forced to keep it simple: a bowl of cereal. Also after assessing the box, she wrote down tuna sandwich for lunch and spaghetti for dinner. She thought of baked french fries, but then had to wonder if a person needing to shop at a food pantry would have an oven.
“This is a little bit difficult,” she said of the OSU-Lima/Rhodes State campus’ version of the Food Network show “Chopped.” “You have a lot of food to work with here, but so many don’t really go together. You have to be creative.”
The campus has held activities during National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week for the past several years. Wednesday was the first time for “Chopped.” Along with bringing home the message that many are less fortunate, Woodie said it also showed what can be made with a little creativity.
“No matter what you have, you can always make something from it,” she said.
Students had three minutes to look through a box of items likely found in a food pantry. They saw things such as eggs, bread, cereal, spaghetti, milk, rice, potatoes, canned peaches, and canned corn and green beans.
Next, students had five minutes to come up with a full-day menu. Some menus will now be “chopped” while others will make it into a cookbook to be made available later in the community. Peggy Adams, executive director of Family Promise, a homeless shelter for families, said it is not uncommon for people using food pantries to not know how to prepare meals with what they get there.
“We see people leave stuff there because they don’t know how to cook it,”she said. “They might get food but they don’t always know what to do with it. They have never cooked it before, never been exposed to it.”
Amy Livchak, coordinator of student activities, said the competition not only raised awareness of hunger and homelessness on campus, but it also educated “poor” college students on meal possibilities.
“They can look at this and see that I have some of these things in my pantry and could probably create some decent meals too,” she said.
A group of four OSU-Lima students decided to go with “versatility” when creating the menu. Tuna, turkey or peanut butter sandwiches were for lunch. Spaghetti, maybe with onions, was on tap for dinner.
“We found plenty in the box to even make leftovers for the next day,” Christina Hunter said. “At our house, we say, ‘If you have it, use it before it expires.’ We may experiment sometimes.”
Zaneta Coleman said her mom always made meals out of whatever was around the house, so “Chopped” came somewhat easy to her. Still, she knew very well that eating from a pantry all the time would be difficult.
“It would be hard,” she said. “Some of us are used to having so much inside our homes, we don’t really think about that there are people out there who do not have much variety to pick from. They have to do with what they have.”