5:01 PM on Tuesday, March 30th, 20101 Comment
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is one of the few food banks in the nation that utilizes an aquaponic system. On Saturday, the Urban Harvest program offered class to teach the community how to build and maintain the system in their own backyard. Aquaponics is a system of growing fish and edible plants in a closed, circulating system. It creates a bio-system in which fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish.
The Regional Food Bank has been experimenting with two different aquaponics systems since 2006 and has had great results. The current system consists of a tank that can hold up to 800 tilapia, connected to two 50-feet-long floating grows beds that accommodate up to 800 plant units. Typically, lettuce grows to harvest size in five weeks in this system. The system can be smaller or larger, based on needs and goals.
Tilapia is the fish of choice for most growers as they grow from fingerling to 1.5 pounds in as little as nine months. The leafy greens and herbs grow quickly, producing nutritious food faster than field growing.
The class, which was in such high demand that a waiting list was created, consisted of 30 students who worked to construct a “low-tech” aquaponic system that could be adapted to home or small business with a relatively small financial investment. The system will be used as the Urban Harvest nursery for baby tilapia.
12:58 PM on Friday, March 26th, 20101 Comment
In a thought-provoking new series called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC, Chef Jamie Oliver, a best-selling author and 2010 TED Prize winner, invites us to change the way we eat. The show follows Oliver’s efforts in Huntington, West Virginia – a community recently singled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the “unhealthiest cities in America.” Oliver hopes to help the community move away from fast food and unhealthy snacks toward freshly cooked food and better nutrition – in their homes, workplaces, and most importantly, schools!
The show’s upcoming premiere has me thinking of my work here at the Regional Food Bank as I advocate for increased student participation in school nutrition programs. For the most part, schools in Oklahoma serve meals based on an established meal pattern: menus are planned and food is ordered according to USDA nutritional guidelines. Despite this, pizza, chicken nuggets and biscuits and gravy remain the most popular items in the cafeteria. These choices are not completely unhealthy – but couldn’t our schools do better?
Having more participation in the programs would be great, since only 45% of the students in Oklahoma participate in the National School Lunch Program, and even fewer in the National School Breakfast Program and Summer Food Service Program. These programs are especially important for students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals, as sometimes these are the only meals a child receives.
Food Revolution is loosely based on Oliver’s experiences in the U.K., where he employed grassroots efforts to improve the school lunch program. Oliver was able to completely overhaul the system to include better, more nutritious, food. In this series, Oliver will show how he tries to help Huntington as an example for the rest of the country. It’s definitely worth watching!
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution debuts today, March 26 (8:00-9:00 p.m., CST) on ABC.
-By Suma Ananthaswamy, AmeriCorps Member/Child Nutrition Advocacy
2:21 PM on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010No Comments
Do you eat because you’re hungry? For me, that’s a great goal! I eat because I’m bored, because I’m happy, because there is food in front of me. I find that when I’m busy and there isn’t food around me I can stick to my healthy diet, no problem. If I slow down or if I’m around the table with family and friends I tend to keep eating, long after I’m full.
So, the question is: what to do about it? There are so many things that can be done to derail a craving. Drink a glass of water, take a walk, call a friend, take a bubble bath, play with your kids, anything but go to the kitchen. If you’re sitting around the table and you don’t want to leave, clear the table of food. If it’s not your house, move the plate away from you.
The point is, your body will tell you when it needs food, when it does, eat. When it’s not your body but something totally different, like your emotions, take a walk. I’m trying to incorporate these ideas myself, and if I can’t do it today…tomorrow is another day!
To keep yourself on track, join the Pound For Pound Challenge at www.pfpchallenge.com. For every pound you pledge to lose, The Biggest Loser, Feeding America, General Mills, 24 Hour Fitness, Subway will donate 14 cents to your local food bank (that’s us!).
- By Jennifer Arlan, Development Manager
Bean and Turkey Chili
Poultry for Protein
Turkey breast is a lean protein that supplies amino acids that give structure to the body in skin, cell membranes and muscles.
Prep Time:20 min
Start to Finish:50 min
Makes: 7 servings (1 cup each)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey or chicken
2 medium jalapeño chiles, seeded, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) Muir Glen® organic diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 to 16 oz) pinto beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup water
1 cup Cascadian Farm® frozen organic sweet corn (from 10-oz bag)
2 tablespoons ancho chile pepper powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, if desired
1. In 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey; cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Add jalapeño chiles and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in tomatoes, beans, water, corn, chile pepper powder, cumin and oregano. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until flavors are blended. Sprinkle individual servings with cilantro.
With nearly 1 in 4 children across the country struggling with hunger, our nation is in crisis. These children don’t have access to adequate nutrition to live healthy, active lives.
Support the Regional Food Bank, Feeding America and our partners at ConAgra Foods during the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign through the end of May.
Rally your neighborhood with a block party, bake sale, garage sale or picnic to raise awareness and dollars to support the Regional Food Bank and Feeding America in the fight against child hunger in your community.
After your event, make your donation online – all donations will stay in the local community.
3:48 PM on Friday, March 19th, 2010No Comments
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma will be closed on Saturday, March 20th due to the forecasted weather.
There will be no open volunteering.
Urban Harvest’s Basic Raised Bed Gardening Class scheduled for Saturday, March 20th is canceled. It has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 3rd from 9 a.m. to noon.
Please stay off the roads, and stay safe!
We are excited to announce that Oklahoma landed in the #1 spot in the WeCanEndThis.com Digital Can Drive as the state with the most digital cans donated at 5,068 – a cool 499 cans above Vermont!!
As one of the top 10 states, the Oklahoma food banks will receive a truckload of protein product from Tyson Foods (150,000 meals) that will be split between our food bank and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
Congratulations to the other states who will also receive a truckload of food from Tyson!
9. New York
And last, but not least, thank you to the Community Food Bank of Oklahoma for partnering with us to make this happen!
This Digital Can Drive is just the beginning of the WeCanEndThis.com initiative to spark innovation and a broader engagement in the movement to end hunger in America.The goal is to shift the conversation about hunger in America and create real, tangible solutions. We look forward for what’s to come from this!
Update (a Lamar billboard tweet about this blog post!):
10:35 AM on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010No Comments
Check out this video about the Food Bank, which is currently featured on Cox Communications!
Aquaponics is a system of growing fish and edible plants in a closed circulating system that creates a bio-system in which fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, and plants filter and clean the water for the fish.
Urban Harvest is offering an aquaponics workshop to introduce the basic concepts of the system. The class will help people decide if they want to invest in establishing one of these systems through hands on learning. It will be held on March 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost to attend is $25.00.
The aquaponics class will consist of two components (lunch on your own between 12:00pm and 1:00pm; Urban Harvest will provide beverages if you want to brown-bag-it):
- 9:00–12:00: Introductions followed by a film and lecture based upon the Urban Harvest experience of building and operating a greenhouse aquaponics system. A walk-and-talk will introduce the students to the commercial system located in the greenhouse.
- 1:00-4:00: Students will assist with the construction of a “low tech” aquaponic system that could be adapted to home or small business with relatively low financial investment. The system will become the Urban Harvest nursery for baby Tilapia.
At the Regional Food Bank, we have been experimenting with two different systems since 2006 and have had great results. Our experience has come from formal training and a lot of trial and error! The first system was based upon the low-tech Growing Power model from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was a vertical system of plant beds connected to a tank that held 100 tilapia. The system worked well, successfully growing out both fish and various edible plants and herbs. Later, a larger commercial system modeled after a concept developed by the University of The Virgin Islands was established. Our current system consists of a tank that can hold up to 800 tilapia, connected to two 50 foot long floating grow beds that accommodate up to 800 plant units. Typically, lettuce grows to harvest size in 5 to 6 weeks in this system. This type of system can be smaller or larger based on needs and goals.
Tilapia is the fish of choice for most growers as they grow from fingerling to 1.5 pounds in as little as 9 months while leafy greens and herbs grow quickly, producing nutritious food faster than field growing.
4:01 PM on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010No Comments
Birthday cake has turned into my Achilles Heel. I was doing well by losing or maintaining my weight – even progressing enough to go from plus size clothing to misses sizes. But alas, the birthday cake has derailed me. This week, it really isn’t looking good for me. Not one stinkin’ bit.
Needless to say, I was anxious about weigh in… so I went to the see what Bob Harper of The Biggest Loser had to say to see could find some words of wisdom. Here they are:
“Set realistic goals and stay positive. Achieving any goal takes time and patience, and always remember your over-arching goal: to lose weight, get in shape, and be the best person you can be.” – Bob Harper
I am happy with that. If I think it is hopeless it will be. A bad week doesn’t mean the end of a successful and fruitful journey – just a brief detour. The main point is, I started the trip and I know my final destination. So all aboard! It isn’t too late to join the Pound for Pound Challenge – sign up today. For every pound of weight you pledge to lose, the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14 cents to your local food bank.
Food Bank staff who have joined the challenge are holding steady at 91 pounds lost! Woo Hoo!!!
Oklahoma is still in 24th place, with Okies pledging to lose 60,095 pounds! But gang – Tulsa is creeping up on us – we need to stay in the lead within our state!
- By Melanie Anthony, Grants Manager
“Healthified” Mediterranean-Style Chicken and Pasta
Prepare the veggies and cook the chicken ahead of time; cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the recipe.
Prep Time: 25 min
Start to Finish: 25 min
Makes: 6 servings (1 1/2 cups each)
2 cups uncooked multigrain penne pasta (6 oz)
2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
1 small onion, chopped (1/3 cup)
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups 3/4-inch pieces cooked chicken breast
1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen® organic no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz) Muir Glen® organic tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
**If you want to reduce the cost of this recipe, sliced black olives can be substituted for the Kalamata.
3/4 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese (3 oz)
1. In 4-quart Dutch oven, cook and drain pasta as directed on package, omitting salt. Return to Dutch oven; cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, in 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Add zucchini and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano and basil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender and mixture is hot. Stir in olives.
3. Pour chicken mixture over pasta. Top with feta cheese; toss to coat.
1 Serving: Calories 270 (Calories from Fat 60); Total Fat 7g (Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 45mg; Sodium 540mg; Total Carbohydrate 29g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 7g); Protein 23g
Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 10%; Vitamin C 15%; Calcium 10%; Iron 15%
Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 1 Vegetable; 2 Lean Meat
Carbohydrate Choices: 2
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.