Microwave Meals is able to be provided through the generous donations to VittleWise. Thank you!
A No Excuse Resource For People-In-Need.
Perfectly healthy food continues to go to waste. Even as more healthy food is being donated, diets are still not changing. With help from the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the many food banks we interviewed throughout Chicago, education was the main issue keep people from changing their diet. Healthy food items are not commonly found in low-income neighborhoods where most healthy food is donated to (i.e. food pantries, shelters, etc.). These neighborhoods are often referred to as Food Deserts, because they are devoid of any grocery stores. When produce is donated to these areas, it is often overlooked because of the lack of knowledge about how to use/cook the produce.
People who live in food deserts are surrounded by convenience stores and fast food chains. These institutions are stocked full of highly processed food items that contains large amount of sodium, sugar, trans fats, and other high cholesterol ingredients. With these items being the main source of a daily diet, that changes a person's overall taste. Healthy food becomes bland as it doesn't contain the same level of sodium and sugar than processed foods. We found that the majority of people who visit food pantries choose high sodium and sugar foods over it's counterparts; as these are the foods they are use to. In order for diets to change, taste buds need to change.
We may think that stoves and ovens are common appliances found in most kitchens. This is not the case for many people living in temporary living conditions, shelters, single room occupancy units, micro-apartments, or subsidized and shared housing. In fact, many of the countless places we visited and interviews with residents living in these conditions we found only microwaves for cooking. This provides a great deal of difficulty when it comes to cooking any items other than processed or frozen foods.
We compiled a list of items commonly donated from each of the food pantries we visited and turned it into a cookbook. With each recipe we created, we integrated healthy ingredients in with the foods that were commonly chosen by families in order to introduce healthier food items to diets as well as tastebuds. Each recipe in the Microwave Meals cookbook only uses a microwave for cooking to make each recipe accessible to food pantry individuals. The cookbook also provides small sections of educational content for further guidance on cooking tips and facts.