Professor Anne Goodwin says the local food collaborative was considering how to inform residents about affordable, healthy meals and realized they already had a cookbook E3 students made in 2015.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Seven years ago a group of students put together a cookbook of healthy, nutritious and affordable meals based on ingredients available at the local food pantry.
It was the culmination of a project at the E3 Academy, the public schools' alternative learning program. The 10 students graduated and thought the 50 copies they bound and provided to the Al Nelson Friendship Food Pantry was done and over.
But it turns out there's still a need for nutritious recipes, especially those that are aligned with the types of foods that the pantry keeps in stock.
E3 Cooks! Recipes and Reflections is being republished courtesy of a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts grant.
"It's crazy to see it being put into place somewhere else where it's useful," said E3 graduate Tarrenz LeClair. "It's really nice to see what it's become."
Professor Anne Goodwin, who teaches biology and nutrition at MCLA, said the idea of a cookbook had been raised at a meeting of Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's Food Access Collaborative.
"Recipes that could be targeted to the food pantry items in hopes of making meals more interesting, targeting those items and ending on budget friendly," she said.
Goodwin had connected with Jennifer Munoz, who's spearheaded local community gardening initiatives and who happened to have a copy of the E3 cookbook.
"I was like wait, I've seen this cookbook. We have that. We do not need to reinvent the wheel on this one," Goodwin said at the last Thursday's presentation, part of the MCLA Undergraduate Research Conference.
She tracked down Abby Reifsnyder, who had been an instructor at E3 at the time, for permission to reprint and Reifsnyder, in turn, was able to bring two of the graduates who helped write the cookbook: LeClair and Mariah Arnold.
LeClair, who now works at 413 Bistro on Main Street, said the project helped him learn about fresh foods and sourcing them locally, and about keeping the ingredients affordable.
His interest in food preparation came from helping his mother in the kitchen at a young age.
"I grew up in a place where food was hard to come by. All we had was like stuff from the food pantry and so now it's turning that into something," he said. "And also I love the work where I'm at now because we source locally from all of the farms around us and make good quality food out of what's good for us and close to us."
Reifsnyder said the students had studied the whole food system, did an inventory of what was then called the Friendship Food Pantry, and twice a week gone to the UNO Community Center's kitchen to test recipes.
"Beans were very challenging for us because there were a lot of beans and not a lot of love for the beans," she laughed. "But we developed some things. The black bean dip, I think, became popular eventually. We put it all together, we really tested everything. We smelled it, looked at it, we ate it all. It was a good, good project."
Arnold said she's now cooking for her children and was amazed that her high school project was being republished.
"You know, at the time, it just seemed like something we were doing for each other," she said. "It's really benefited a lot of people and is inspiring people to do more with it, and help other people."
Goodwin applied for a Mind's Eye grant, which provides up to $500 to faculty for projects, including Thursday's nutrition session with her students. Beck's Printing is publishing 60 copies of the cookbook as it appeared seven years ago, with the possibility of reprinting more if there's a demand. The cookbook will be available at the food pantry, the library and a few other places that seem like a good target, she said.
To complement the cookbook, some of her students are also working on loose-leaf recipes that can be made available at local pantries, such as a vegetable of the week.
"I would like to really say look, your project accomplished something at the time, and it is accomplishing things again, as well," Goodwin said to the E3 team. "And if more than 60 copies are needed, I have another grant lined up for the next batch."
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Local Recovery Documentary to Premiere
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The public is invited to "Blueprint: Building the Foundation for Recovery," a new documentary featuring real stories of recovery in the Berkshires.
The film is followed by a community conversation led by local experts including Dr. Jennifer Michaels from The Brien Center, Sarah DeJesus from BHS's Berkshire Harm Reduction, community members from the education field, emergency management, and individuals with lived experience.
The two film premieres are the capstone events for the HEALing Communities Study (HCS). Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 7:00 pm at the MCLA Church Street Center in North Adams and Thursday, Dec. 14 at 7:00 pm at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.
During the past 18 months, local partners from the harm reduction, treatment, and recovery communities have collaborated on a shared goal of reducing opioid overdoses. Over 30 partners from across the Berkshires joined together in the HEALing Communities Study to increase naloxone distribution, raise awareness of all pathways to treatment and recovery, and reduce stigma around substance use disorder.
Blueprint is a new documentary from Outpost Studios weaving together stories from our community with local behavioral health experts. George Cox and iin Purwanti of Outpost Studios have interviewed over a dozen community members for the feature, with original music by local artist Matt Cusson.