King’s Pantry benefits from nutrition program
The savory smells coming out of the kitchen at The King’s Pantry in Seymour drew more than a little attention from clients waiting to “shop” for their groceries on a recent Thursday.
Those smells were part of a new program offered by the University of Missouri Extension Service in Webster County. Amber Williams, a nutrition program associate, selects a quick, simple recipe using four or five ingredients — all available to clients at the pantry. Then she whips it up for everyone to taste and smell.
The program allows clients to sample tasty and nutritious recipes, sometimes from food items that might be unfamiliar to some pantry clients. It also allows clients to do some hands-on cooking. Recently, people were invited into the kitchen to make peanut butter treats to take home.
Amber checks with pantry director, Marion Glenn, to find out what is on the shelves at The King’s Pantry that week, then finds a few appropriate recipes. She especially tries to reach out to SNAP recipients, “to get them to think in a different way,” she says.
Williams visits the pantry once a month, alternating the day and week so everyone will have a chance to sample her culinary skills. She will also offer cooking classes if enough people sign up.
The King’s Pantry recently moved into a new building that includes a large, commercial kitchen, so hosting the program seemed like a good match. During a Community Partnership meeting in Webster County, all the right people were in the room and the plans were hatched for the cooking program.
“It always works better when you work together,” Williams said.
One important partner in the effort was the county health department, which inspected the new building and asked for a few simple fixes before approving the program. In the meantime pantry director, Glenn was talking with folks at Ozarks Food Harvest about it and established a way to keep track of all the OFH food that is used in the cooking program. Glenn even hopes to get permission from the state to use USDA food in some of the demonstrations.
“I’m excited about the prospects,” Glenn said. “And we’re so blessed to have someone like Amber.”
Williams pointed out that any food pantry can reach out to the Extension Service about a similar program, even if their facility does not have a qualified kitchen. “The Extension can help find an approved site,” she said. “We are happy to do this.”
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