Category Archives: Nutrition

A quick guide to food product dating

By Rosemena Dalmace, Summer Community Nutrition Educator

When grocery shopping, have you ever noticed the dates that are stamped on the package of foods you purchase? Beside the date, it usually says, “sell by,” “best if used by,” or “use by or before.” Most people believe that these dates are expiration dates and the food is no longer good to eat after the date has passed. This is not the case!

Perishable foods like meats, poultry and fish usually have sell by dates. The sell by date tells the store up to what date a food item can remain on the shelf to be sold. Also, perishable foods can last longer if they are kept in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees F, or frozen at or below 0 degrees F.

Non-perishable foods like canned or boxed foods usually have “use by” or “best if used by dates.” These dates describe that the food is at its best quality or flavor up until the date printed on the package.

Rule of thumb for purchasing and storing foods is as follows:

  • If the package says, “sell by” or if it has no date, then the product can be stored for a few days past the stamped date. When frozen the food can last weeks beyond its date and is safe. However when refrigerated, some foods are safe between 1 and 7 days.
  • If the package says, “use by” or “best if used by” then you should to follow that date.

Here at the Food Bank we store a large variety of foods in our warehouse. Some foods come in past their dates, however, we follow shelf-stable food safety guidelines.

Here are some examples of foods we store and for how long

Grains:

  • Rice (white, brown), pasta/noodles, macaroni and cheese, and popcorn = 2 years
  • Cornmeal/corn meal baking mixes, polenta = 6 – 12 months
  • Crackers = 8 months
  • Stuffing = 2 months

Vegetables:

  • Canned potatoes, corn, carrots, spinach, beans, beets, peas and pumpkin = 2 – 5 years
  • Tomatoes, pickles, sauerkraut, or foods treated with vinegar based sauces = 12 – 18 months
  • Vegetable juice: 12 – 18 months
  • Dehydrated, Dried Vegetables = 1 year

Fruits:

  • Canned fruit (in juice or light syrup) = 12 – 18 months
  • Dried fruits = 6 months
  • 100% Fruit Juice = 12 – 18 months

Dairy:

  • Dry milk packets = 6 months
  • Canned evaporated or condensed = 9 months
  • Parmesan Cheese = 10 months

Protein:

  • Canned beans, peas, lentils = 2 – 5 years
  • Dry beans, peas, lentils 12 months
  • Peanut butter = 6 – 9 months
  • Nuts (canned, shelled) = 4 months
  • Canned meat and poultry = 2 – 5 years
  • Seafood in retort pouches (tuna, salmon0 = 8 months
  • Meat substitutes = 4 months
  • Dried beef = 12 months

The Food Bank takes care in making sure that the foods given to the community are healthy and at its best quality.

Be sure to use the food safety guidelines when preparing and storing cooked and uncooked foods. Dates on products are important especially for perishable items. Handling food is also very important. Always begin with clean hands and utensils when preparing and storing cooked and uncooked foods.

Here’s a handy infographic to help determine shelf life!

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Stretching SNAP budgets at the Historic Lewes Farmers Market

0805_lewes-photoBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator 

SNAP recipients have an opportunity to make their shopping dollars go farther at the Historic Lewes Farmers Market.

SNAP is the program formerly called food stamps, so people using an EBT card can have access to more fresh produce, dairy, baked goods, and meat sold at that market through an agreement promoted by the Food Bank of Delaware.

Here’s how it works: Anyone with an EBT card can go to the SNAP Information Table set up at the market each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon through Nov. 21. The Market will match, dollar for dollar, purchases made at the market with bonus bucks’ tokens.

Those tokens, up to $20 per person per visit, can be used to buy SNAP-eligible food at the Market; they do not expire.

Mary Conte, the Market’s SNAP coordinator, partnered with Crystal Ruiz, a SNAP Outreach Coordinator for the Food Bank of Delaware, to develop the Bonus Bucks concept in order to allow more people access to fresh foods.

“We wanted to team up with a market,” said Crystal, who noted that grant funding will pay for a Wi-Fi connection so people can even sign up for SNAP benefits at the market.

Mary admits that the program has not been as well received as she envisioned, and she has volunteered her time and effort to promote it.

“I put myself out there to spread the word, to make connections to increase our SNAP customer base. I’m reaching out to other organizations,” she said.

In the summer, the market is set up under spreading old trees on the grounds of the Lewes Historical Society, but after Oct. 3, until the end of the season, it’s held at Shields Elementary School on Savannah Road.

“It’s interesting. We actually have done better with the program in the fall, and I am not sure why,” Mary added.

The Historical Lewes Farmers Market has been recognized locally and nationally; it is a producer-only market, and the vendors are committed to encouraging SNAP participation.

For more information on the market, visit www.historiclewesfarmersmarket.org or email historiclewesfarmersmarket@comcast.net or call 302-644-1436. For more information on the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org

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The Recipe Club at Camp FRESH

The Food Bank of Delaware’s SNAP-education team has been busy this summer educating children and teens up and down the state about the importance of good nutrition.

Earlier this month, Leah, our Community Nutritionist, and Lindsey, our Summer Nutrition Educator, hosted a series of recipe club meetings for teenagers participating in Camp FRESH at Christiana Care’s Eugene du Pont Preventive Medicine & Rehabilitation Institute in Wilmington.

Camp FRESH is designed to empower Wilmington youth to become agents of change within their communities, and is focused on improving health and quality of life by expanding access to quality foods. By becoming ambassadors for good nutrition and healthy lifestyles, the Camp FRESH teens hope to give their families and neighbors the tools to build a healthier lifestyle! Leah and Lindsey visited two groups of campers for a total of four days.

The campers learned the basics of following a recipe. The premise of the recipe club is simple – if you can follow directions, you can cook! Thanks to the recipe club, campers learned how to alter recipes to make them healthier and how different cooking methods change the healthiness of a recipe.

On Leah and Lindsey’s second visit to Camp FRESH, they focused on preparing a healthy pasta dish called “Green Pasta.” (Don’t worry, it’s not some scary food straight out of a sci-fi movie!) The teens were split into groups and all had a specific task. One group was responsible for mincing garlic and shallots.

Once the mincing was finished, another group worked on sauteing the ingredients with olive oil. While the sauteing was taking place, another group chopped spinach and basil with a food processor. Once everything was chopped, campers added milk, spinach and basil to the saute pan with oil and garlic. They waited for the sauce to come to a boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer. Campers stirred occasionally until the sauce thickened.

The room was filled with the aroma of olive oil and garlic, and a few Christiana Care employees followed the smell from their offices!

Leah and Lindsey had already boiled spaghetti noodles ahead of time, so the teen cooks just had to add pasta and mozzarella cheese! Viola!

The green pasta received rave reviews from the campers. They were all impressed with how easy the recipe was to prepare!

Leah says the trial run of the recipe club for teenagers was a success and she looks forward to hosting more clubs! By the end of the four sessions, participants will:

  • Analyze a recipe for completeness
  • Identify and describe the five key parts of a recipe
  • Practice following a recipe properly
  • Know the four steps to being food safe
  • Demonstrate one or more of the four steps to being food safe
  • Practice measure equivalents
  • Know the different types of healthy cooking methods
  • Know how to pair what seasonings with what foods
  • Review basic recipe substitutions
  • Practice rehabbing a recipe

To learn more about nutrition education at the Food Bank of Delaware, please visit http://www.fbd.org/program/snap-education/. Check out some more photos from the Recipe Club!

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Program Spotlight: Smart Choices for WIC

Laura at WIC demoBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

How do you get kids to eat spinach? That’s a challenge that Laura McAllister seems to have conquered, not through disguise, but by employing subtle inclusion.

Laura is a one of the Food of Delaware’s WIC food demonstration specialists. On Friday, she set up a portable cooking station inside the Shipley State Service Center in Seaford.

As part of the Smart Choices for WIC program, Laura’s job is to show mothers who receive WIC benefits how to prepare healthy and inviting dishes based on items they can purchase using their vouchers.

So she made something that most children enjoy: pizza. The recipe, Mini Tortilla Pizza, includes spinach as one of toppings along with the traditional tomato sauce and cheese.

Diamonte Wise, 4, Millsboro, loved it, spinach and all, much to the delight of his parents.

“I am surprised he’s eating it because he doesn’t like green,” said Dorian Williams, Diamonte’s dad.

His parents, including his mom Melissa, were enthusiastic about taking home the recipe, and she said she look forward to preparing it at home.

In Delaware, one in five children lives in poverty; and many are served by the WIC program.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, WIC is a “Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.”

The WIC food list includes fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, bread, dried beans, and some cereals, and although the foods are healthy, some young parents may be challenged to make them appealing and appetizing to young children.

So Laura, and Amanda, her New Castle County counterpart, create recipes, demonstrate the preparation and offer samples to WIC recipients. In addition to Seaford, Laura also visits service centers in Frankford, Georgetown, Milford and Dover each month.

For more information about the Smart Choices for WIC program or any other programs sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org.

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Eat Smart Live Strong at Luther Towers

Today marked the last of four sessions of Community Nutrition Educator Alyssa Atanacio’s Smart Live Strong class at Luther Towers. Over the past three visits, senior citizens living in the Wilmington residential tower learned more about a healthy and active lifestyle. The group learned they should eat 3.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day (1.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables) and participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days.

Alyssa opened the fourth class with a review of what the seniors had already learned. Each week, they have been responsible for filling out a weekly log of how many cups of fruits and vegetables they consumed and how much physical activity they participated in. Everyone who completed and brought their log to today’s class received a free recipe book, Recipes in a SNAP!

The seniors talked about their weekly experience consuming fruits and vegetables. Some had no difficulty incorporating the food groups into their daily diets, while others struggled to get the proper amounts. Participants shared tips for eating more fruits and vegetables. One participant had a vegetable pizza, while another sprinkled fresh fruit on her morning cereal.

Alyssa gave the group practical tips for consuming more fruits and vegetables. She advised them to check the labels when shopping for canned fruits and vegetables. “You want to make sure your canned fruit is in natural juices versus syrup and to look for low-sodium vegetables,” she pointed out.

Alyssa encouraged the group to utilize their SNAP benefits to purchase fruits and vegetable, buy fruits and vegetables when they are on sale and buy when it’s in season.

“Fruits and vegetables that are in season are cheaper. It’s much cheaper to buy strawberries in the spring and summer then it is in the winter,” she said. “When fresh produce is in season stock up and freeze it.”

The group also talked about the importance of physical activity. “It’s important to stretch every day,” said Alyssa.

Lindsey, our Summer Nutrition Educator, lead the seniors in a series of gentle stretches including neck and shoulder rolls and wrist and ankle rotations.

One senior noted how physical activity has helped with balance. Another said she had more energy throughout the day.

After the discussion, the group played two rounds of Fruit and Vegetable Bingo! Lindsey described different fruits and vegetables as participants called out the item and covered up its picture on their Bingo card.

Two lucky winners took home a bag of make-your-own kale chips. After the winners were called, Alyssa passed out a sample of the recipe of the day, pear and quinoa salad. It was a hit!

To close out the session, participants received a free bunch of bananas and a small bag of assorted vegetables!

To learn more about SNAP-education at the Food Bank of Delaware, please click here.

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Snack Art at Rodney Street Tennis

Today was a beautiful summer afternoon for nutrition fun in Wilmington’s Rockford Park! Alyssa Antanacio RD, our Community Nutrition Educator, spent the afternoon with kids from the Rodney Street Tennis program. The goal for the one-hour session – learn about healthy snacks and create a Snack Art “cow!”

Gathered around two picnic tables, Alyssa and Lindsey, our summer Nutrition Educator, talked with kids about the importance of eating healthy snacks.

“You need to eat healthy snacks throughout the day, especially since you are playing tennis, to keep your body fueled,” explained Alyssa.

Reviewing the five MyPlate groups, Alyssa shared some healthy snack ideas from each food group. “Kids need to eat 1.5 cups of fruits each day,” as she held up a rubber pear. “And you need 2 cups of vegetables per day,” she pointed out as she held up a serving size of carrots.

“Are those foods real,” questioned one participant. The real-life food items provide a great visual for kids on healthy portion sizes for snacks.

Before the kids began creating an edible cow, they listed some of their favorite healthy snacks. Favorites among this group of aspiring tennis stars, yogurt with fruit, cereal, peanut butter on bread and more.

The highlight of the session was the chance to create a Snack Art cow. Using items from the food groups, kids put together healthy foods to create a fun, healthy and edible project!

They started with a rice cake for the cow’s face. Next, Alyssa instructed the group to spread soy butter on the rice cake so the cow’s ears, eyes and nose would stick. Two pieces of bananas for the horns, a grape cut in half for two little cow ears, an apricot snout, raisins for eyes and two toasty o’s cereal pieces for nostrils!

Viola! A Snack Art cow! Next up, eat the cow!

The kids had a great time learning about how the foods they eat help to make them better tennis players.

Is your organization interested in hosting a nutrition education class for kids? Click here to learn more about the program!

Nutrition Education classes at the Food Bank of Delaware are made possible through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

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Food Bank of Delaware kicks off “Hunger-Free Summer”

We kicked off our 2015 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) with a Summer Fun Fair for kids and adults at Newark’s Dickey Park on Friday afternoon!

More than 60 children and adults gathered for a free lunch provided by students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, activities, a cooking demo and inspiring words from retired NFL punter Sean Landeta. At the conclusion of the event, adults received a 30-pound meal box from the food bank’s mobile pantry. Special thanks to the team from Bank of America for helping out with the afternoon event!

The kickoff event was made possible thanks to a $20,000 Hunger-Free Summer grant from the ConAgra Foods Foundation. In addition, the generous grant will allow us to operate mobile meal sites in New Castle County. A driver will travel from site to site delivering meals, and a Food Bank of Delaware park coordinator will distribute the meals.

Children will be able to visit one of three park sites, Dickey Park in Newark (Monday-Friday; 12:00 p.m.), Centennial Park in Bear (Monday-Friday; 12:45 p.m.) and Wilton Park in New Castle (Monday-Friday; 1:30 p.m.), to receive a free nutritious meal.

Two additional sites are at the Middletown State Service Center (meals served Tuesday and Thursday; 10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.) and Hudson State Service Center (meals served Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.). State Service Center sites are available to clients’ children visiting the center.

The Food Bank of Delaware will provide free meals to 92 other sites throughout the summer. Meals are planned to feature healthy, kid-friendly foods, including cereal and milk, bagels, soy butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, grilled chicken on a whole-wheat roll, yogurt, oranges, nectarines, celery sticks and more. No paperwork is needed for a child to visit a SFSP site.

“The Hunger Free Summer grant allows us to provide meals to kids, so they don’t have to worry about food, and have more time to run, play and be kids,” says Charlotte McGarry, Food Bank of Delaware Programs Director. “Working with Feeding America and our partners at ConAgra Foods Foundation through the Hunger Free Summer program, we will be able to provide more healthy meals to more children in our community.”

One more Summer Fun Fair is planned for tomorrow at Centennial Park in Bear.

Children and teens up to age 18 are eligible to receive free meals. To locate free meals, families can text FOOD to 877-877 or dial 2-1-1.

Check out some more photos from the Summer Fun Fair!

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