F.I.S.H. encourages clients to try unusual dishes, provides recipes and info about available food

Especially during the summer and fall, Newberg F.I.S.H. (Friends In Service to Humanity), receives fresh produce donations to provide for those in need. But these fresh vegetables and other not-as-common foods can be discouraging to clients be­cause they are unsure of how to prepare them. So, Ju­dith La­ba­die, F.I.S.H. volunteer coordinator, and others, started a food tasting program at the end of each month where clients can try foods prepared with the “unusual or weird” looking ingredients available to GARY ALLEN - Teachers - Judith Labadie (left) and Marilyn Godfrey volunteer with Newberg Friends In Service to Humanity providing food boxes to needy citizens. Three months ago they started offering food tastings, showing clients how to prepare unusual meals from unusual ingredients.

“We noticed that especially this time of year when there’s so much produce, but sometimes looks odd — squash can be a little scary sometimes — we notice a lot of the less familiar vegetables aren’t selected,” Labadie said.

She said from talking with clients, they might not know what the item is, how to fix it or if their children will eat it.

“People are passing on food that’s delicious and nutritious, so (we said) let’s take some of the food and serve some samples,” she said. “We give out rec­i­pes and see if it’s inspiring.”

She said the program really came about thanks to a grant offered from First Federal Savings and Linfield Col­lege.

“Together they sponsored a grant to pay an intern to do something with a nonprofit for a semester,” Labadie said. “I applied for the grant to get this off the ground.”

She added that the program was built around the work their intern did.

Volunteer Forrest Freed said the idea originated with a United States Department of Agriculture shipment of bags upon bags of soy beans.

Freed said although they decided the soy beans were too involved — as they require soaking before cooking can begin — the idea continued with squash, zucchini, rice and other vegetables.

Last month, for example, they made a butternut squash soup.

“It turned people off looking at, but if they taste it, ‘Oh, this is good,’” he said. “It turned a lot of people around.”

Labadie said the impact of the program, in its third month, is light but at least it’s introducing people to the different vegetables and supplies they have available.

Freed said it’s not all odd shaped vegetables F.I.S.H. has available. Last month they also had boxes of apples and almond butter.

“That was real popular with kids and adults,” he said.

Sometimes the federal government sends odd things that they aren’t sure what to do with, he said, such as a shipment of aluminum cans labeled simply as “pork.”

“Who knows what kind of pork it is, or the consistency,” he said. “That’s why the almond butter did well. It’s in a clear jar, you can see it.”

Beth Wasson, one of three F.I.S.H. executive directors, said with an average of 1,200 individuals and 350 households using the food box service, they want to ensure even the odd food gets used.

“We do have avenues to move the produce; YCAP (Yamhill County Action Program) helps us with that so it goes to other places where needy can use it,” Wasson said. “It’s our intentions not to waste. We want people here to benefit as well, so we try very hard to make sure they can use (the supplies) nicely.”

To get involved or for more information about the program, visit www.newberg

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