In honor of the more than 28,000 Larimer County residents that lack access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life, the Food Bank places a high priority on providing nutritious food for our clients. Food insecurity in itself has serious health consequences for children as well as adults. Children from families that struggle with food insecurity are more likely to experience poor physical health and hospitalization, developmental delays, and often struggle in school. Furthermore, many of the risks of being food insecure are the same as those of becoming obese including limited resources; lack of access to healthy, affordable foods; cycles of deprivation and overeating; and high levels of stress. While the public health crises of obesity and diet related diseases affect all segments of the population, they disproportionally impact the communities we serve.
Meet our Registered Dietitian - Megan Ehrlich
My name is Megan Ehrlich and I am the Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Programs Coordinator at the Food Bank for Larimer County. I completed my Bachelors of Science Degree in Dietetics and Dietetic Internship with the University of Northern Colorado, and began working for the Food Bank in 2013. At the Food Bank, I love to use my passion for food and nutrition to help others incorporate a variety of nutritious foods into their diet. I believe that all foods can fit into a healthy diet, and that eating healthy truly can be uncomplicated and budget-friendly. Currently I am working with our staff to improve our nutrition goals for the Food Bank, and my priority is to provide the most nutritious foods possible and serve as a nutrition resource for our clients and community partners.
Food Bank Nutrition Initiatives
In 2013, the Food Bank distributed nearly 3,000,000 of fresh produce. In addition to the donations we receive each day from our retail food rescue program, our Food Resources Manager works closely with area growers to source donated produce. In addition, the Food Bank has partnered with the Gardens on Spring Creek to encourage backyard gardeners to donate their surplus produce via the Plant It Forward program.
Two times each month, our registered dietitian (RD) creates simple, healthy recipes using foods available in our Food Share fresh food pantry. Clients are offered a sample as well as the recipe. The program also gives our RD and her interns an opportunity to interact with clients and provide simple nutrition education. To celebrate National Nutrition Month, will offer Tasting Tables once per week during March.
Nutrition Rating System
Under the guidance of our RD, in June 2013, the Food Bank began rating donated food into three categories: High Nutritional Value, Medium Nutritional Value and Low Nutritional Value. While food rating is a time intensive process, the information we gather is valuable as it helps us monitor our inventories. In the future, we plan to use our rating information to help our clients make more informed food choices.
Scratch Cooking in Kids Cafe
With the completion of our kitchen remodel in June 2013, we were able to expand our scratch cooking capabilities to provide the healthiest and freshest meals possible for Kids Cafe participants. As part of the continuous improvement process, Kids Cafe makes ranch dressing from scratch using plain yogurt donated by Noosa -- the kids love it! In addition, Chef Adam and volunteers make whole grain dough for our calzones with homemade marinara sauce - a kid favorite. In addition, the Food Bank no longer serves processed meats from chicken to pork to ground beef, all meat is prepared in our kitchen.
Recently, we administered a nutrition-focused survey to our Food Share clients. In addition to learning more about our clients fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, we also hoped to learn more about their abilities to cook from scratch. We will use the data from the survey to develop client nutrition education programming.