From emergency food box to delicious meal

OklahomaCommunity Food
Collaborator: Jennah James
Published: 03/10/2022, 4:14 PM
Edited: 03/10/2022, 6:05 PM

(TULSA, Okla.) Inflation and supply issues worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic continue to drive up the price of groceries.

As more people struggle to stretch their dollars and feed their families, VNN turned to Chef Jeff Marlow at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma’s Culinary Center for help. 

Chef Marlow showed us how to prepare meals with common ingredients found in their emergency food boxes. (Scroll to the bottom of this article for the three healthy dishes Chef Marlow said will satisfy even the pickiest eaters.)

Chef Marlow’s passion for helping others combat food security was evident in each dash of spice and sprinkle of salt.

Food insecurity is when someone doesn't have consistent access to adequate food at times during the year because of a lack of money and other resources.

Food Bank statistics show one in four Oklahoma children were at risk of going to bed hungry for the pandemic. That number has since climbed to one in three.

One in six Oklahomans are considered food insecure. That means 594,000 Oklahomans (including 208,000 children) are unsure where they will get their next meal. 

One in 10 Oklahoma senior citizens struggle with hunger.

Chef Marlow said the Food Bank and their partners distribute more than 450,000 meals each week across a 24-county service area. The programs include emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs and senior citizen centers.

Most recently, refugees from Afghanistan are amongst those served.

When companies began furloughing employees in March 2020, the Food Bank was prepared to fulfill the needs of people who might not have utilized the Food Bank resources in the past.

The Food Bank is also the first in the nation to have an on-site Culinary Center with a professional kitchen and cooking demonstration area. The Culinary Center prepares nutritious meals from perishable food that would otherwise be thrown away.

Meals are served hot on the Mobile Eatery food trucks and preserved by freezing then distributed.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities and ways to give, go to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma website.

Shepherd’s Pie (Soup)

1 pound ground beef

½ cup celery small diced

½ cup carrots small diced

¼ cup onion diced

1 cup Idaho potatoes medium diced (any potato will work)

1 package of French onion soup package

2 quarts of water

Salt and pepper (S&P) to taste

In a stock pot brown the ground beef and drain the oil. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to a low medium and let the soup slow simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are tender. 

Tuna Casserole

2 cans of tuna

1 can of sweet peas

1 Diced tomatoes with garlic and Italian herbs

1 pound of pasta (any type) cooked

2 cups of milk, heavy cream or half and half, even shelf stable milk

S&P to taste

In a stock pot add all ingredients and bring to a boil, adjust the heat to low and let simmer until sauce is naturally

Chicken Chili

2 cans of canned chicken

3 to 4 cans of different kinds of beans, drain and rinse beans

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 cup of cooked rice

1 quart of chicken broth

1 table spoon cumin

1 table spoon chili powder

½ cup diced onion

½ cup diced carrot

S&P to taste

In a stock pot add all the ingredients and bring to a boil, adjust heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender. 


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