When the first Trinity Lutheran Church members were trained as Master Food Preservers by the Univ of Idaho Extension, they told me that low-income families, the target audience for our After the Harvest grant from ELCA World Hunger, were probably not considering what food would be in their cupboards in six months. Creating a book with simple recipes for locally grown produce was still an excellent goal but teaching food pantry clients to preserve food was probably not. Slightly humiliated by my naivety, I asked them what they wanted to do with their new knowledge and skills (for which the grant had just paid). The four of them, enthusiastic after their six Thursdays of classes, suggested that if we change the food culture of medium income individuals and households, it could have, probably would have, a trickle down effect. Changing any part of the food culture would have an impact. Thanks to many organizations in the community, during the last four months I’ve witnessed this change in Nampa.
- The Boise Co-op announced that it would be branching out to either Nampa or The Village in Meridian. The latter won the prize but not until after a great deal of enthusiasm was drummed up in Nampa, captured in this video. The Boise Co-op will not be coming to my city but a group of people decided there is enough energy and need that we should start the CANYON COUNTY CO-OP! And, in response to this project, Nampa’s Fred Meyer is undergoing major renovations, which will include larger produce and health-food sections. The Albertsons on 12th Avenue and Greenhurst is also being remodeled, but I don’t know as much about that project.
- When Trinity Community Gardens Inc. (TCGI) co-founder Dale Anderson and I went to our first Northwest Nazarene Univ. Freshman Activity Fair in 2011 we were the ONLY table that displayed produce. This year I quit counting how many churches were promoting their community gardens. As the day wore on, the talk in my head changed from “WE are the ones who started this whole phenomena! Let’s have some recognition please.” to “We helped start this AMAZING MOVEMENT!” Many Canyon County community garden gardeners were trained in TCGI classes. (Me and Rev Karen Hunter of Grace Episcopal together at NNU this year)
- Several years ago the Idaho Food Bank adopted the Cooking Matters program and I sent in an application to become a host-site. Why not? Trinity is all about food. I made one follow-up call, never heard from them, and decided to focus on what we were already doing. This summer a woman moved into a new position with the Food Bank and found my old application somewhere in her office. The Food Bank was looking to expand Cooking Matters into Canyon County so she called and asked if we could host a series of Wednesday afternoon classes taught by a Boise chef. The students are kids getting ready to leave foster care. It’s been a great fit.
- Finally, our momentum at Trinity is still strong. We have paid for six more volunteers, three from Trinity, to be trained as Master Food Preservers AND our 3-part Home Food Preservation Workshop filled up again this summer. By the end of last Thursday’s class, around 45 people will have had three evenings of hands on experience in our church’s kitchen and fellowship hall. For the congregations in Nampa, changing the food culture is an important and fun ministry. It is a faithful response to God’s hope that we will be good stewards of all God has entrusted to us. When we find ways to help others eat healthier food, then we are following the commandment to love our neighbors. I know the work of changing the food culture is not complete in Nampa. It never will be. But for now I give thanks for the small changes I have witnessed and for the relationships that have been created and nurtured in the midst of it all.
Sounds like you’ve been very busy with productive results. What a way to make a difference. Fresh foods are the source of such healthy choices and fun for cooking. We have certainly enjoyed our garden again this year and with 200 quarts of tomatoes canned, (salsa, stewed tomatoes, pasta sauce, and tomato soup) we’re able to share with others also–Whiting and BV schools and neighbors too. We expect to hear more of your programs successes and rewards.
Linda and Dennis