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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Davis

The Dish | March 2024

Households Served: 2,304 Individuals Served: 5,070 New Shoppers: 284 Volunteer Hours: 1,691 Volunteers: 180 Average Hours / Volunteer: 9.4 Pounds of Recovered Food: 51,338 Pounds of Food Donated by Harvesters: 13,084
Pasta with Peas & Ham Struggling to find quick, affordable meals for busy weeknights? This month's budget recipe is your answer: Pasta with Peas & Ham! Packing flavor and ease into just 20 minutes, it's a delicious lifesaver.  This recipe shines with its budget-conscious ingredients. Plus, it yields generous portions, stretching your dollars further with satisfying leftovers.  Forget fancy ingredients – this recipe relies on pantry staples like pasta, frozen peas, diced ham, and a touch of cream. Parmesan cheese adds a burst of savory richness and the perfect finishing touch.  Feel free to add your own twist! Experiment with different pasta shapes, swap peas for another green veggie, or use bacon, pancetta, or even sausage instead of ham. Don't have heavy cream? Milk or a simple roux works wonders. Want a kick? Add a pinch of red pepper flakes!  This Pasta with Peas & Ham is your ticket to stress-free, budget-friendly weeknight meals. With its ease, affordability, and deliciousness, it's sure to become a new family favorite. So grab your ingredients and get cooking!  Estimated Cost: $4.81/recipe - $1.20/serving  Recipe: Pasta with Peas & Ham
“Hunger in Kansas is a policy choice, and expanding access to school nutrition programs to relieve the burden of unpaid meal fees is no different. More than 90,000 children in the state face food insecurity, and school meals are one of the most effective ways to give low-income students guaranteed access to food. Students who participate in school meals not only benefit from improved health outcomes, but they also display better test scores, fewer school absences, and fewer behavioral referrals. However, many barriers like cost and limited eligibility for meal-assistance programs can prevent school-aged kids in Kansas from accessing the nutrition they need to succeed.”
“The farm bill is one of the most important but least understood pieces of US legislation, and it’s overdue for renewal. But Congress couldn’t pass a new version in the fall, reflecting partisan dysfunction and also a contentious debate about what the bill ought to be—a debate that has become ensnared in the nation’s culture wars. Racial equity, food sovereignty, protections for workers, and meaningful action on climate change have broadened the bill’s traditional mandate of growing food and feeding hungry people.”
Rescued and redirected food has a large impact on the environmental health of our world. In January 2024 alone, Just Food’s repack and repurpose program, Chop Shop, rescued 2,136 pounds of food and produced 3,201 pounds of meals to be used in Just Food’s pantry and partner locations. If this food had ended up in the landfill instead of Just Food, it would be equivalent to 5.94 tons of CO2eq or 1 passenger vehicle driven for a year.  Calculated using ReFED Impact Calculator
Meet Chef T.K. Peterson of Merchants Pub & Plate and the host of our upcoming Fond Dinner on March 27th. Every dinner in this series is a nod to the chef's fond memories around food and directly benefits our essential mission. Together, we can ensure everyone in Douglas County has access to fresh, nourishing food. Read more about Chef T.K. below and grab your tickets at the link below.   Chef T.K. Peterson was born and raised in Kansas. His family has long-standing Midwest roots and he grew up learning to cook foods from the heartland. His culinary career started in Lawrence at The Bleu Jacket, and he quickly fell in love with the industry. He joined the Culinary Program at Johnson
County and trained as a Chef Apprentice in Lawrence institutions, including Teller's. After graduation T.K. worked as Sous Chef at the newly renovated Eldridge Hotel, and grew with the company into an Executive Chef role, helping open The Oread Hotel.  In 2013, T.K. opened Merchants Pub & Plate with his wife Emily. The restaurant focuses on locally inspired gastropub fare, alongside craft beer and cocktails. Chef T.K.’s connection to and love for the humble and understated cuisine he grew up with has driven him to find ways to modernize Midwestern cooking. He and the staff at Merchants are here to welcome you in with true Midwestern hospitality.
Marilyn Hamrick We’re excited to announce Marilyn Hamrick as the Volunteer of the Month for March, recognizing her dedicated service and commitment to the community. As a retired ER nurse, Marilyn brings a wealth of compassion and care to her role at Just Food, where she has volunteered for the past three years. Having relocated from Austin to Lawrence 33 years ago, Marilyn has embedded herself in the fabric of the community, touching the lives of countless individuals through her work at Just Food.Marilyn's enthusiasm for interacting with shoppers, volunteers, and staff members alike infuses the atmosphere at Just Food with warmth and camaraderie. Beyond her contributions within the organization, Marilyn's passion for gardening, canning, and preserving from her own garden reflects her dedication to sustainability and nourishing others. Together with her life partner and best friend, Mike, Marilyn cherishes moments with her son, two daughters, and her 6 and a half year-old grandson, Noah. Her love for sharing, whether through cooking or caring for plants at Just Food, exemplifies her generous spirit and commitment to making a difference in the lives of those around her. We’re so grateful for Marilyn and all of her contributions! Congratulations on being named Volunteer of the Month!
Natural Grocers We are thrilled to announce Natural Grocers as our Community Partner of the Month for March! For over a decade, Natural Grocers has been a vital source of support, providing us with essential food and  healthcare items to help nourish our community. Their commitment goes beyond shelf-stable staples. Natural Grocers regularly donates ready-to-eat meals, fresh bread, and milk, ensuring our shoppers have access to nutritious and delicious options. They also understand the importance of overall well-being, consistently supplying us with vitamins, supplements, and hygiene products.  Last year alone, Natural Grocers' generosity amounted to an incredible 11,507 pounds of donated goods! And their support shows no signs of slowing down – this year, they've already contributed 2,232 pounds and counting.  We are deeply grateful for Natural Grocers' partnership and dedication to our mission. Their commitment to healthy food and community well-being aligns perfectly with ours, and their support truly makes a difference in the lives of countless individuals.  Thank you, Natural Grocers, for being an amazing partner!
As Executive Director, I am fortunate to observe the incredible difference our volunteers make each and everyday, and I am profoundly grateful for their unwavering commitment to Just Food.  Whether it was lending a helping hand at our annual fundraiser Game Gala, providing vital assistance in our pantry, sorting food recovery items, stocking our pantry or offering expertise and insights, our volunteers' contributions have been invaluable. Our volunteers' generosity of time, energy, and talents has enabled us to achieve our mission and serve those in need with compassion. Each month, Just Food has between 150-200 volunteers who make it possible to carry out the vast array of services we provide.
Each volunteer brings a unique perspective, skill set, and passion to our organization, enriching our work and strengthening our impact. The willingness of our volunteers to go above and beyond inspires us all and serves as an example of the power of community and collaboration.   As we look ahead to the coming year, I am confident that with the community's continued support and dedication, we will overcome any challenges that may arise and continue to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Your kindness, generosity, and unwavering commitment to Just Food is inspiring, and I am honored to work alongside each of our supporters in the vast array of ways you do so.   On behalf of the entire organization, I extend my sincerest thanks and deepest appreciation to our volunteers. Our volunteers give on average 10 hours of their time each week & donated over 21,000 hours of their time in 2023. The hard work, passion, and selflessness our volunteers give does not go unnoticed, and I am immensely grateful for everything each of you do.

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