During floods, fires and natural disasters, as much as the outpouring Nature can cause food scarcity, food scarcity can cause the outpouring of community generosity. At these times, children often display eagerness to be involved with food and toy donations – their little hearts touched by other families’ hardships.
History has shown us that food sharing has been a prime vehicle for delivering heart-felt care amongst community members. However, many of us are unaware that, even in the absence of natural disasters, poverty and hunger are very prevalent in our society. Food Bank Australia, which is a non-for-profit, food supply organisation, states that over 10% of Australian adults and children live in poverty, and up to a million children don’t always get enough to eat!
So as modern society fosters a ‘me first’, consumerist culture, let’s turn the tides of time and teach our children about the rewarding service of community food sharing. Consider your family’s involvement in the following activities:
- Prepare a double portion of a meal (try a Coast Kid’s recipe), and share it with an elderly neighbour, a sick or fatigued friend, or a struggling family. Get your child to choose the recipient, and prompt them to give reasons why gifting to these people is important.
- Deliver some homemade treats to a nursing home. Encourage your children to spend time with the elderly residents, explaining that sometimes these people don’t have families of their own. This outing is particularly beneficial for children without grandparents, or who have no regular contact with aged people. (Remember to contact the nursing home before visiting.)
- Assist at a free meal cookout for the homeless, as operated by churches and charities. It gives children a greater appreciation for what they already have, and develops a compassion for the less fortunate. To contact an organisation involved with homeless food support, and if you are located on the Gold Coast, visit the Gold Coast City Council website www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au and (under the sections ‘People and communities’ and ‘Community Issues’) view the ‘Homeless Support Services Weekly Guide’. (Firstly check with the relevant organisation about permission to attend.)
- Organise a Pot-luck Dinner, which involve friends and families coming together and sharing their meals. Involve your children in the design, preparation and cleanup of meals, viewing it as a whole family activity, not just a social gathering. These events offer tangible community outreach and support, and may help overcome any isolation experienced by children who lack extended families.
- Create a Supper Club, which involves two or more families, each allocated one night per week to prepare a meal for themselves and the other club members. Parents are then rewarded with ‘cooking-free nights’ when it is the other families’ rostered nights to supply meals. This food-sharing arrangement offers parents some additional, stress-free time for quality family bonding. (Supper Clubs are particularly helpful for busy, working families and single parent families.)
- Attend a local Farmers’ Market. Children can meet the farmers who grow their foods, as well as become educated on how to choose quality, seasonal produce. For market venues if you are located on the Gold Coast,, visit the Gold Coast City website www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au and search under ‘Food, Wine & Dining’ for ‘Farmers’ Markets’.
- Involve your family in a community garden. Let your child experience the joy of growing and harvesting food alongside other community members. You will make new friends, learn much about the environment, and pick up some culinary tips, too! To find out more about local community gardens, and if you are located on the Gold Coast, visit Gold Coast Parks website www.gcparks.com.au and click on ‘Community Gardens’.
Food in focus: Almonds
They were prevalent throughout historical community trades, collected as prizes in war pillages, and found only in the possession of the wealthy; almonds are valued in today’s cultures as much as in the past. And rightly so! Packed full of goodness, the almond is a good of protein, healthy mono-unsaturated oils, vitamins and minerals. [Note, almonds do contain a special coating that can inhibit their digestion. To release almonds’ stored nutrition, rinse well and then soak in a bowl of water for 12-24 hours before use.] Almonds are a must-have household food storage item.
Hearty vegetable soup
(The night before, thoroughly rinse the soup mix and the almonds, and soak in separate bowls of purified water.)
¾ cup bean and lentil soup mix (soaked for 12-24hrs, then drained)
½ cup almonds (soaked for 12-24hrs, then drained)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (or freshly chopped ripe tomatoes)
1 ½ tbsp of vegetable stock powder
1 large stem of celery
1 medium carrot
1 cup each of broccoli florets, green beans, mushrooms
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves garlic
¼ cup of red wine
Slice onions and sauté in a well-oiled pan until soft. Finely chop garlic and add part–way through sautéing onion. Dissolve vegetable stock powder in 2 cups of water. When the onions and garlic are soft, combine with wine, tomatoes, ground pepper and stock in a soup pot. Dice vegetables and add to pot. Cover with lid and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. In a blender, combine almonds with ¾ cup of water on high speed until of a smooth consistency. Total cooking time will vary (usually 1 ½ hours, depending on the firmness of the beans and lentils). When cooked, remove pot from heat and allow soup to stop simmering. Stir through almond milk and leave to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
No-bake fruit crumble
(The night before, rinse almonds well and soak in a bowl of purified water. Then two hours before preparation, soak dates.)
1 cup of soaked almonds (soaked for 12-24hrs, then drained)
7 soaked dates (soaked for 2 hours, then drained)
2 large apples
1 firm pear
1 large passionfruit
½ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ tsp cinnamon or mixed spice powder
Oil the bottom of a small pie dish and cover lightly with desiccated coconut. Peel and grate apples and pears into a bowl. Stir through orange juice and set aside. In a food processor, macerate into a coarse paste the almonds, 4 dates (retain 3 dates), ¼ cup desiccated coconut (retain ¼ cup), and 1 tsp of coconut oil. Spoon mixture into a pie dish and press into the base. Drain the pears and apples. In a food processor, combine (but don’t purée), apples, pear, remaining dates and mixed spice. Spoon into pie base. In a bowl, mix remaining coconut and passionfruit pulp together. Spread evenly over pie top. Cover and set in the refrigerator for an hour. Alternatively, gently warm in an oven (on a very low temperature to ensure retention of nutrients). Serve with fresh berries.