July 31st is National Avocado Day. WCHI offered frozen avocados to our Pantry Guests at both our July 13th and July 20th food distributions.
From FeedingPA - “Avocados are known for their "good" fats. Monosaturated fat, the main type of fat in avocado, can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood which may help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. If you're a little unsure about giving avocado a try, consider adding some to a smoothie. It brings a delicious creaminess without an overpowering flavor.
How to Cut an Avocado. You will need 1 avocado, a cutting board, a sharp knife, and a spoon is optional.
Below “The History timeline and more info on avocados from https://nationaltoday.com/national-avocado-day/
8000 BC - Avocados eaten in Mexico. Archaeologists have found evidence that wild avocados were gathered and eaten in central Mexico.
3000 BC - Avocado trees grown. Researchers believe that Mesoamerican tribes like the Inca, the Olmec and the Maya grew domesticated avocado trees.
1696 - The avocado is named. Naturalist, Sir Hans Sloane, names “the avocado or alligator pear-tree" in his catalog of Jamaican plants.
1833 - Welcome to the U.S. Horticulturist, Henry Perrine, first plants avocados in Florida.
1950s - Into the mainstream. Avocados become commercially available in the U.S., with people mostly adding them to salads.
WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL AVOCADO DAY
They're extremely healthy. Avocados played a huge role in the health food revival in the U.S. a generation ago and for good reason. They're packed with potassium to keep your blood pressure lower, oleic acid for reducing inflammation, fiber for your metabolism and antioxidants that keep your eyes healthy.
They're incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Avocados are nothing if not a culinary imagination booster! We're not just talking guacamole and toast. You can use them as a base for salad dressing, chilled soup, ice cream, pudding, pasta sauce, bread and lots more.
5 TASTY FACTS ABOUT AVOCADOS
1. Super treat -Football fans consume 53.5 million pounds of guacamole on Super Bowl Sundays.
2. Berry good - Because it's a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary, an avocado is actually a berry.
3. They're #1 - Avocados contain the most protein and fiber of any fruit.
4. Count 'em -There are 1,062 varieties of avocado.
5. Gator guac - In Jamaica, avocados were once called "alligator pears.”
I hope you enjoyed this article. Have a great week!!
UNDERSTANDING DATES ON FOOD PACKAGING
Second Harvest Food Bank selected WCHI to be one of four Healthy Pantries in Lehigh County, which offers healthier low fat and low salt products, when possible. WCHI obtains a lot of great information from both Second Harvest and PA Healthy Pantry Initiative (PA HPI), which is a project of Feeding America.
I wanted to provide “Date Facts” since consumers get confused what the date on food products means. Baby formula only (not baby food) needs to be thrown out and not fed to a baby after its “Use-By” date, because at that time there is no more nutritional value left in the product. The information below comes directly from Feeding America - Resources for Pantries.
“Product dating is not required by federal regulations except on infant formula. Dates are provided to help stores and people know when food is of the best quality. However, the dates are not indicators of the food’s safety. Understanding the dates can reduce throwing away perfectly good food.
There are many different dates that can be found on food packaging. Here are some examples:
How can you tell if a food is safe to eat?
If handled properly, a product should still be safe and wholesome even if the package date is passed during storage.
I hope you found this info helpful. I will be providing more interesting topics from Feeding America, Feeding PA, and Second Harvest Food Bank in future articles.
WCHI requests the following food items for our Food Pantry: Canned fruit, any kind of boxed pasta, and condiments such as salad dressings, ketchup, mayo, relish, and pickles. Right now, we have enough mustard. Also. If anyone has an overabundance of home-grown vegetables and/or spices, they also can be dropped off to my ReE/Max Unlimited office, 1080 Schadt Ave, Whitehall Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.
Thank you and have a great week!!
I am pleased to provide statistics on our Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative (WCHI) Food Pantry attendance for the period July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023. All Food Pantries, that work with government supplied food, are on this fiscal year.
WCHI provided 48 food distributions. We report unduplicated data, which is counting households and guests only one time - no matter how many times they attend our Pantry. WCHI has accurate data for people registered for the entire year. Our unduplicated numbers for this fiscal year are: 485 households; 1,812 guests consisting of 688 children (ages 0-17); 843 adults (ages 18-59) and 281 seniors (ages 60+).
Through our computer software, WCHI also has counted every guest that have attended at least two or more times during the year. These numbers are incredible and WCHI is proud to be helping so many residents - 10,844 people consisting of 3,910 children, 4,792 adults, and 2,142 seniors.
WCHI sincerely thanks Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB), the Lehigh County Commissioners for grants WCHI has requested and obtained, and the generous public who consistently provides us with both food and monetary donations. SHFB is not a grocery store, and their food items are extremely limited. Without all these partners working with WCHI, we could never feed as many people as we do. Thank you everyone!!!
Our Pantry is open the 2nd and 3rd Thursday of the month 9:30-1 pm and 4:30-7 pm by appointment only. We close the doors promptly at 1 and 7pm. Our reservations are usually 95% reserved. Guests sometimes forget their appointments, get sick, or do not have transportation that day. New guests are always welcome, but appointments are strongly recommended.
WCHI works indirectly with USDA through the PA Dept of Agriculture and though SHFB to provide food to our income eligible guests. “The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Through TEFAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases a variety of nutritious, high-quality USDA Foods, and makes those foods available to state distributing agencies.
The amount of food each state receives out of the total amount of food provided is based on the number of unemployed persons and the number of people with incomes below the poverty level in the state. States provide the food to local agencies that they have selected, usually food banks, which in turn distribute the food to local organizations, such as soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public.
These funds must, in part, be passed down to local agencies. TEFAP is administered at the federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the USDA. Updated: 01/06/2020” https://www.fns.usda.gov/tefap/tefap-fact-sheet
I wanted to explain briefly how we qualify each of our Pantry guests. Since we are now in July, new PA Dept of Agriculture “Self-Declaration of Need” forms must be updated for each household receiving food from our Pantry. Typically, this form is reviewed and signed once a year. “The Emergency Food Assistance Program is operated in accordance with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. Eligibility is based upon the income guidelines listed below. The recipient circles the entire line that applies to their Household Size, understanding they must be at, or below, the income level indicated to be eligible for program benefits.”
I am happy that the household income limits were increased for the new fiscal year. The Total Household Income is based on 185% of Poverty. This month our guests will verify their income as mentioned on the forms (no proof of income is required at the time of registration). The guest then signs digitally, which is applied to their registration form in our computer software program. The process goes seamlessly but will add approximately 5 minutes per guest at registration.
The household income is based on the day the guest comes into the Pantry. If their income goes up and they no longer qualify, the guest needs to let us know and WCHI cannot give them food. On the other hand, if a person has had a decrease in income and now, they qualify, they need to contact us to make an appointment to become a new guest. We have this many times with seasonal workers.
WCHI is here to help food insecure Whitehall and Coplay residents. Please call us at 484-225-0358 with any questions.
Submitted by Gwen Herzog, Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s Vegetable Garden Chair
It has been another exciting month for the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative Garden. When we were finally graced with early June rain, all our vegetable plants began to flourish! We now have small peppers on our plants, and several tomato plants have begun to flower. Our eggplants’ leaves started to become lacy due to flea beetles, so these plants were dusted. Some of the radishes started protruding out of the ground and we were able to pick about 90 so far.
Although I am behind on thinning the red beets and carrots, both are growing well. The parsley may be ready for a small first cutting for distribution this month. Our beds of zucchini and yellow squash are really taking off and I anticipate by the time you read this article, we may have little ones hanging on the vines. What we need now are hot days, warm nights, and regular rainfall to help our gardens grow. Fingers crossed!
One major addition to the pantry garden is a new rainwater collection system. Thank you to the Whitehall Township Public Works Department for installing a rain gutter on the back of our shed with down spouting into our water storage tank. Installation was completed Thursday, June 22nd just in time for the weekend’s rain and as a result, our tank is now filled to the top. Many, many thanks to the Public Works team and to Mayor Harakal for supporting this valuable project! I also want to thank the Hockey Fire Department and our volunteers who brought water to the garden during the dry spring season.
If you use the Ironton Rail Trail loop, you have surely seen our WCHI Garden. Like me, you have probably also wondered why we have so many grassy areas inside the garden fence compared with the amount of planting beds. Yes, we have space and opportunities. One of our garden volunteers has been working on clearing a space for another bed. In fact, this newly created space is almost ready to use. Due to its proximity to the outer fence, we discussed possibly having to protect it from deer.
As luck would have it, in mid-June we received a donation of used fence posts and mesh fencing from our Pantry volunteers Pat and Bob, which will be perfect to use around this new bed. Speaking of planting new crops, we kept our “U” shaped bed open in anticipation of receiving donated vegetable or herb plants. If you find that you have any extra plants, please drop them at Shari Noctor’s Re/Max Unlimited office at 1080 Schadt Avenue, Whitehall, PA or give me a call at 610-379-6823 to arrange for pick up.
In last month’s article, I announced that the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative is now part of the Lehigh Valley Plant-A-Row community. The week of June 19th, neighbors of mine, Fran and Walt, donated 4 lbs. of garden lettuce which we were not able to immediately distribute at WCHI. Fortunately, we used the Plant-A-Row community network and shared it with another local pantry that was distributing food the next day!
As a reminder, any extra, fresh produce from your garden or orchard that you donate will first be distributed at our WCHI Pantry or at our Free Community Meals. If neither of these events will be taking place within a few days, your donation will be shared with local Plant-A-Row pantries that will be able to immediately distribute it. Nothing will go to waste. Fresh produce may be donated at Re/Max Unlimited and placed on the table in the foyer or give me a call me at 610-379-6823 to arrange for pick up.
Have a great July and happy gardening!