UW Health Chefs Share Crockpot Recipes at MOM
A little over a year ago, some staff from Culinary Services at UW Health sat down to brainstorm what they could do to make a difference in the community for those suffering from food insecurity and limited food choices. They knew they wanted to partner with an organization reaching these people. Gradually, a plan began to unfold. In the past year, that plan has continued to grow, their efforts expanding to make an even bigger impact in the community than they could’ve ever envisioned at that first meeting.
“We started thinking about crockpots,” remembered Lisa Bote, Sous Chef, University Hospital, UW Health. “We thought maybe we could share some simple recipes that utilized common items available at food pantries.”
With this goal in mind, they set to work. The first order of business was to get crockpots. To do this, UW Health staff reached out to some of their vendors. The response was positive. Some vendors donated money to the project while others donated actual crockpots—new and still in their boxes. By last year at this time, UW Health had collected 100 crockpots to deliver to MOM.
Next came the recipes. Lisa and others such as Executive Chef, Ellen Ritter, looked through recipes and tweaked them to focus on ingredients visitors to MOM would like be able to find at the pantry. The result were recipes like Overnight Oatmeal or Six Can Tortilla Soup. “The great thing about these recipes is that they are simple and quick. Even kids could throw the ingredients together in the crockpot before school,” Lisa said.
As they started gathering recipes and crockpots, the UW Health chefs realized another potential barrier families visiting MOM’s food pantry faced. Many of the recipes called for some basic spices. Yet spices are something that are often hard to find at food pantries. UW Health staff decided this was also a problem they could solve. They put together a list of the top ten spices needed for cooking—items like black pepper, cinnamon and chili flakes. Then they conducted their own drive to gather these, setting up bins and putting signs outside their cafeteria. Their current spice drive is titled “Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day.”
The project didn’t end with spices either. For crockpot recipients or others who are interested, MOM also offers classes. Taught by UW Extension FoodWise educator, Udai Olivares, these classes teach basic crockpot cooking skills. Classes cover topics like food handling and safety, use of a meat thermometer to prevent illness and stretching food budget dollars. So far, over 20 participants have benefited from the classes. And everyone sees more opportunities to make a difference in the future.
“This is definitely something we see continuing,” Lisa said. In fact, they have almost gathered another 100 crockpots to deliver to MOM. “To me, what’s inspiring about all of this is that it all started from asking the simple question, ‘What can we do to help?’” Lisa said.
Want to sample some of their recipes yourself? Download the recipe cards here and try your hard at these simple, scrumptious meals.
Please note: MOM does not generally take donations of electrical appliances such as crockpots. This special project was an exception due to arrangements made with UW Health. While we appreciate donations, limited space in the Clothing Closet and safety concerns, only permits MOM to receive electronics for designed project partnerships.
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