Cabbage to Coleslaw: How Recipe Demos Help Neighbors Make the Most of Food from Mobile Pantries

Penny and granddaughter holding fruit

Mobile Pantries are like farmers markets on wheels that provide 9 to 11 grocery items to neighbors in need at no cost. However, some of the items provided may be unfamiliar and therefore the recipients might not know exactly how to prepare them.

A collaboration between Feeding America West Michigan, the Marquette Food Co-op and the Northern Michigan University Center for Rural Health worked to help neighbors overcome this obstacle this year. Funded by the Superior Health Foundation, Recipe for Success provided recipes and cooking demonstrations to go along with food items frequently provided by Mobile Pantries.

In July, one such cooking demonstration took place at a Mobile Pantry in Newberry, where large heads of cabbage were being distributed.

volunteer holding cabbage

Cody, a community nutrition instructor, shared a cabbage slaw recipe with families in Newberry for them to learn and taste while they picked up their food. After working in the Upper Peninsula for seven years, Cody has a lot of experience distributing food and said “people love to see [recipe demonstrations].” This was their first time live-streaming one of the cooking demonstrations, and it was a success! They are hoping to videotape more of them in the future so an even wider audience can have access to the recipes.

recipe card and sample

Penny, mother to Shauna, was excited to take both the recipe and food back to her apartment to share with her family and neighbors.

“I always tell them to come here and get the food, and if you don’t like it, give to someone else who can eat it. In our building we share,” Penny said.

Penny and granddaughter holding fruit
Penny and her granddaughter

Their family has many different eating preferences, but they felt they could still utilize this recipe to make something that most of them could enjoy. Shauna and her husband have five kids and don’t qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. With many things becoming more expensive, it can be hard to make ends meet. They love getting fruits and vegetables from Mobile Pantries because that’s what the kids enjoy eating.

Millie and her sister Gail smile for the camera
Millie and her sister Gail

Millie volunteers to give back to her community and is glad she can help out neighbors like Penny and so many others. Volunteering at Mobile Pantries showed her that the need for food is larger than she thought, and she wants people to know this resource is available to anyone, no matter what.

“If you need food, you can come,” she said.

Especially since the prices of so many other necessities, like gas, are so high, it is helpful to get food support from Mobile Pantries.

“I just really appreciate this,” said Darrell, a neighbor served by the Mobile Pantry, “It helps out a lot of people.”

Story written by Content Specialist Kelly Reitsma