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Hoover kids learn to share ­­– not waste — leftover food

24 Apr

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Anyone who has ever prepared food for children knows it’s not always easy to get them to clean their plates or finish a meal.

So you can imagine what it’s like in a school cafeteria, where kids decide for themselves when they’re done and what they will or won’t eat.

Lots of food gets thrown away, but Hoover schools have joined a host of schools across the country that are trying to prevent food waste by implementing what they call “share tables.”

When kids get through eating, if they still have food left over, they can put certain food and drink items on the share table for someone else to pick up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture does, however, have specific best practices they encourage schools to use if they have share tables, and Hoover schools follow those guidelines, child nutrition director Melinda Bonner said.

Children can only put whole pieces of fruit or unopened prepackaged items, such as a bag of baby carrots or sliced apples, on the share table. Unopened milk or juice containers also are accepted and are put in a container of ice to keep them cool.

At the end of the day, any leftover milk is discarded and food items are donated to Magic City Harvest, a nonprofit that gathers leftover food from grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hospitals and distributes it to agencies that feed people, Bonner said.

But most Hoover schools find ways to distribute leftover food to their own students who need or want it, she said.

At Trace Crossings Elementary, enrichment teacher Jodi Tofani carries the food to her classroom, where kids use it for snacks. Special education teachers who work in her hall get food for their students who might need it, she said. With the exception of two milk bottles, “every single Friday, it’s all gone.”

At Simmons Middle School, child nutrition manager Teresa Short typically carries about 100 items left over from the share table to the bus lines and offers food for kids to take home with them.

“Even though we’re Hoover, we know that children go home and don’t have snacks,” Short said. “It might be a long time ‘til momma comes home and cooks. … We’re trying anything that could help our kids get through to supper.”

Usually, all the food is taken, she said.

Simmons was one of the first Hoover schools to implement share tables, doing so in the 2017-18 school year, Short said. Now, all the schools offer them, Bonner said.

Tofani, at Trace Crossings, said the program required a little bit of training. Kids had to learn they couldn’t take a bite out of an apple and still put it on the share table, she said.

Older students in her enrichment classes made signs to explain the rules and help supervise the table to make sure all the kids know what can and can’t go there.

Tofani’s students counted one day, and there were 158 items donated, she said. Juice, fruit and milk were the main items donated, but sometimes kids will share other things, she said.

Exactly half of those items were picked up by other students during meal times, and the other half were distributed throughout the day, she said. More items are donated during breakfast because by lunchtime, more kids have developed a full appetite, she said.

J.M. Galbraith, one of the fourth-graders who helps with the share table, said most of the children who put food on the table are kindergartners, while the older kids are the ones who take things off of it.

Leilani Bell, a second-grader at Trace Crossings, said she thinks the share table is great. Sometimes, she doesn’t want her cereal, so she’ll put it on the share table so somebody else can have it, she said.

Otherwise, “that’s just wasting your money,” she said. “You have to pay for this food.”

Another time, she picked up a chocolate milk from the share table for herself, she said.

Annabelle Hudson, another second-grader, said she has given to and taken from the share table as well. “I think it’s very kind to share all the food because sharing is caring,” she said.

Festival promises a day filled with fun, food and music

29 Aug

MIKE-DUPUY
The Penns Valley Conservation Association (PVCA) is hosting their annual outdoor event “Crickfest” this Sunday, Sept. 2, at the community park in Coburn.

The small village of Coburn is not much different than it was 50, or perhaps, 100 years ago.

Roomy Victorian style houses line the main street, and Penns Creek sits to the south side of the town, winding its way through this very rural part of Centre County.

Finding Coburn is fairly easy if you have a GPS, or even just a basic knowledge of the area, and most who make it there will agree that the journey to the little, old fashioned, looking community is a large part of the joy of visiting there.

The picturesque drive takes travelers through the lush, green, Penns Valley farmland, complete with ganders of not only the aforementioned Penns Creek, but also a spectacular view of its sister waterway, Elk Creek.

Coburn is typically a quiet haven, with the most activity on any given day coming from a group of locals making use of the park with a game of Ultimate Frisbee, but each year, on the first Sunday in September, that changes. Hundreds, and quite possibly upwards of one thousand, people flock to an extraordinary festival in Coburn where art, community and nature all come together on a small plot of ground on the backside of this one horse town.

The festival is simply called “Crickfest,” and it will blow your mind and refresh your soul in one swift, sun-covered, swoop.

This coming Sunday marks the 16th year for Crickfest, and as in years past, it promises to be a day filled with fun, food, and music, and will take place rain or shine from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All of the proceeds from Crickfest will go directly to fund the Penns Valley Conservation Association’s Environmental Education Classes that are taught in the Penns Valley School District. Each year since 2003 the PVCA covers the salary for a part time teacher to educate students about the benefits of preserving the area’s natural resources.

Crickfest 16 will be as terrific as the past 15, with live entertainment and delicious food.

Guests are encouraged to kick back and have a relaxing time and bring along their fishing gear, or just simply play in the beautiful, trout filled waters of Penns Creek. There will be kayaks near the creek’s edge to use at your leisure and an instructor to assist first timers.

As in previous years the menu features a broad selection of cuisines to suit any taste, with everything from barbecue to stew.

EcoVents Catering and UpTexas BBQ in Millheim will be serving up BBQ Brisket and pulled pork from their handmade, steampunk-esque portable roaster named “LeRoy.” EcoVents and UpTexas BBQ uses locally sourced beef and pork as well as local, in season produce and other foods.

For those who want something a bit spicier, Brazilian Munchies from Bellefonte, is cooking up some Brazilian Beef Stew and Pao de Queijo (cheese bread).

And if you are really adventurous, travel to North Africa as Nittany Catering, also from Centre County, offers up the classic dish, Morocco Tagine. This lovely, flavor-filled stew will be served in a waste-free, acorn squash bowl.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, the Sweet Creek Cafe will be on hand with an array of unique and delicious baked goods donated by members of the Penns Valley community.

Kids will find fun, educational crafts and activities in the Children’s Creativity Tent. Helpers will show children how to make hands-on art work using items from the environment.

Other stations for kids can be found around Crickfest with past year’s all around favorite being the “water bottle rockets.” And all youngsters will agree that it’s not Crickfest with out the duck and zucchini boat races.

Volunteers from the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey will be presenting a wildlife demonstration, and Millheim resident, Max Engle will be educating everyone on how to build a bat house.

Master Falconer, Mike Dupuy, of Middleburg, will give a falconry and birds of prey demonstration where he will captivate the audience through his knowledge of the age old sport.

Dupuy has decades of experience and is one of the nation’s top falconry/birds of prey experts. He is a very sought after public speaker who consistently draws his audience into his world by teaching them about the benefits of getting involved in falconry. Through the sharing of his personal experiences, he inspires and motivates others to follow their own dreams.

A musical variety show will begin at 11a.m. and will feature local bands and artists that include the Poe Valley Troubadours, Richard Sleigh, and the Unbanned. The final act of the day will be a Ukulele Jam with Mary Anne Cleary. Cleary invites those with ukes to bring their instrument and a music stand along to join in on a jam session.

As per Crickfest tradition, there will be a silent auction where bidders can try their hand at taking home a hand crafted piece of art or a gift certificate for local businesses along with many other wonderfully donated items.

The Penns Valley Conservation Association serves as a steward for the natural and cultural communities in the Upper Penns Creek watershed.

The event is free and open to everyone, from everywhere.

This Stranger Things Season 3 Teaser Features An 80s Mall Food Court

24 Jul

Netflix just gave fans a first glimpse at season three of Stranger Things with a clip showing the inside of a new neon-lit mall in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The promo is scarily on point to a real ’80s advertisement too for the Starcourt Mall, and fans are left to question WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??

The promo announces that Hawkin’s is “taking another step into the future” but no other details are revealed about the show’s main plot line. Familiar name brands that are a blast from the past: Waldenbrooks, Sam Goody, and the Gap, are all shown in the teaser, too.

stranger-things-season-3-teaser

Lastly we see Steve Harrington a.k.a. Joe Keery working in the Starcourt Food Court at an ice cream shop called Scoops Ahoy. He’s seen beside a new character named Robin played by Maya Hawke, both in a little sailor outfits.

There’s no doubt malls just like this one were actually big hubs for teens of suburbia to hang at in the 80s. Only time will tell what’s going to go down there in the third season of the sci-fi drama for Mike, Will, Dusty, Lucas and the rest of the gang. Is it next summer yet?

General Mills Sounds Inflation Alarm for Food Industry

18 Apr

Packaged-food companies already are struggling to respond to a shift in consumer preferences toward healthier, simpler foods. Now they also have to contend with higher input prices.

BN

General Mills GIS -8.85% shares fell nearly 9% Wednesday after the company lowered operating-profit guidance for its full fiscal year ending in May. The maker of Cheerios cereal, Yoplait yogurt and Progresso soups now forecasts adjusted earnings-per-share growth of zero to 1% for the period, down from its earlier guidance of 3% to 4% growth.

The company cited higher commodity prices—including grains, nuts and dairy—as well as rising logistics and freight costs. On a conference call, management was contrite for not catching the trend of accelerating inflation earlier, and it outlined plans to respond by cutting costs, reconfiguring logistics networks and raising some prices.

But analysts on the call voiced skepticism that General Mills has room to pass higher costs on to consumers in the current tough environment. Among other factors, discount grocery chains are taking market share and pressuring suppliers to keep prices low. Shoppers also are increasingly willing and able to compare prices online. During a previous bout of commodity price inflation a decade ago, companies like General Mills raised prices stealthily by shrinking package sizes, but this approach has inherent limits.

While sounding pessimistic on costs, General Mills talked up its sales performance. Having shrunk for several quarters, organic net sales growth turned modestly positive over the past two quarters. This was aided by new products like Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios. But this success shouldn’t be exaggerated. The company’s guidance for the full fiscal year is still for flat organic net sales.

The acquisition of natural pet-food maker Blue Buffalo Pet Products will help flatter overall sales growth in future quarters. It won’t do much to aid cost efficiency, though, since pet food is a new product segment with few expense synergies.

Shares of rival packaged-food companies fell along with General Mills Wednesday, with Campbell Soup down by 2.2% and Kellogg falling 4%. For investors, weak sales and rising costs make for an unappetizing mix.