Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Programs still can use donations of foodstuffs, produce, meals
by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff
(From the Sept. 12, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
The House of Charity serves over 70,000 noon meals each year, providing food to people who might otherwise have to do without.
As with many charities, the staff works magic in providing meals on a limited budget, and a big part of that magic is the food donations given by businesses and individuals.
But the House of Charity staff has seen a drop in the size and scope of its food donations, giving rise to worries that people think their gifts of food are not wanted.
To counter this negative notion, the House of Charity and other Spokane groups which serve meals to homeless and low-income people have teamed up with the Spokane County Health District in a education campaign about safe ways to donate food.
The Health District’s campaign has gotten underway recently with the release of an explanatory brochure.
According to the newly-printed brochure, food from private donors, even food prepared in donors’ homes, is welcome at local charities. Some requiremenst must be met, however.
First, the food to be donated must be handled safely and delivered quickly. To be safe, food must be kept very hot or very cold. According to Melanie Rose, public information manager at the Health District, the time limit for delivering prepared food “is within the hour.”
In addition, the brochure lists three ways food can safely be prepared for donation to others.
• First, food can be prepared in the giver’s home. The Health District has a lengthy list of approved items. The list includes breads, cookies, tossed green salads, fresh vegetables, and fruit trays.
• A second option would be to donate ingredients directly to the organizations. These can include milk and other dairy products, cheese, meat that is USDA approved, and fish.
However, these kinds of food items must be transported quickly to their destination.
Some foods are safe to give just as they are, zucchini from the garden for instance, or other produce such as carrots, apples or tomatoes.
Rose said the charities which have meal programs are very grateful for donations of dairy and meat products. Meal programs often receive an abundance of such items as doughnuts and cookies, she said.
• A third possibilitiy would be for donors to bring the ingredients to the organization and prepare the meal on-site. This will work for those charities which feed smaller numbers of the hungry. Meal suggestions might include casseroles, stews, tacos, spaghetti and lasagna.
For three years, two parish youth groups have served teens at Crosswalk, a group which assists young people living on thes treets. Dan Glatt and Deacon Kelly Stewart head youth groups in Our Lady of Fatima and Assumption parishes, respectively. The groups take turns on the second Sunday of each month, with their teens taking a meal to Crosswalk.
According to Glatt, parish teens do all the preparation, from shopping to serving the meal and then eating with the young people who come in that night.
The Health District’s Melanie Rose said distribution of the brochures is step one in the public awareness campaign. The next step is the declaration of Hunger Awareness Week, set for Oct. 14-20.
For that observance, the Health District will team with Second Harvest Food Bank to put a face on the charities and the people they serve. Tours of the charities are planned and invitations will be issued for other churches and groups to join in helping feed the hungry.
The week is timed to coincide with the annual community report released by Second Harvest. The report lists information from a client survey.
Rather than think food donations are not wanted, Health District officials encourage people to read the brochure and then decide how best to donate. People at the Health District’s food program office will be glad to answer questions or send out a brochure. Call them at (509) 324-1560, extension 2.
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