A year later, Mill Community Ministries is trying a new approach. The non-profit that works to mitigate food insecurity and to foster entrepreneurship and community development has grown its scope during the pandemic – collecting and distributing over 500,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Access is one piece of strengthening food security in a community, said Mill Community Ministries executive director, Dan Weidenbenner, but people also need to know how to cook it.
In January, Mill Communities launched Fresh out of the Box with FoodShare, a new kind of cooking show that both explains the importance of healthy food and shows you how to cook it. Each event incorporates a chef, a musical guest and a health expert, to make healthy eating fun and easy.
It is also free.
The next Fresh Out of the Box virtual cooking event is 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 24, featuring local plant-based chef Dawn Hilton-Williams, Chef Bill Twaler of the Greenville Tech’s Truist Culinary and Hospitality Innovation Center and poet and Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, Glenis Redmond.
Interestingly, the idea for a free event came from one that was not, Weidenbenner said.
Mill Village has found, and continues to find, great success with its Culinary Concert series, which began as a way to build the FoodShareSC program.
The events, which are priced at $150 per two-person meal, and also weave together food and music, have allowed Mill Village to meet the rising need for healthy food during the pandemic through FoodShare.
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FoodShare is designed to offer a sustainable solution to food insecurity by providing bi-monthly boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables at an affordable cost. Each box contains around $20 or more worth of food for $10. Customers can also apply SNAP benefits to bring the cost down to $5 a box.
“It’s not necessarily everybody can do that,” Weidenbenner said referring to the Culinary Concerts. “And I think this Fresh out of the Box thing is really truly for everybody.”
In addition to being 100% free, Fresh out of the Box events are also designed to show people how to cook with the ingredients in a FoodShare box.
Fresh Out of the Box is also working to bridge another divide, that of offering culturally relevant food. The goal is to feature mostly minority chefs and restaurant owners.
Events in January and February were hosted by Chef Lisa Garrett of Finney Buffet and Jordan Johnson, whose family owns OJ’s Diner.
Hilton-Williams, who will provide the cooking piece to the event this week, is a cookbook author, health activist and the founder of Herban-Eats, a plant-based foods company specializing in prepared meals, catering and education.
“Food is culture and food is life and food is family, and we want to make sure what we’re putting out there is relatable too,” Weidenbenner said.”
The Fresh out of the Box virtual cooking class takes place at 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 24. The cost is entirely free.
The event will include a virtual cooking class with Dawn Hilton-Williams, along with a lesson on knife skills from Chef Bill Twaler, as well as a discussion about health and wellness and the inspired words of Glenis Redmond.
To sign up, click the link here.
Lillia Callum-Penso covers food for the Greenville News. She loves the stories recipes tell and finds inspiration in the people behind them. When she’s not exploring local food, she can be found running, both for pleasure and to keep up with her 5-year-old twins. Reach her at [email protected], or at 864-478-5872, or in the Greenville Food & DiningFacebook group.
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