Clark County Food Bank's recipe contest promotes nutrition

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter



The Clark County Food Bank is celebrating nutrition month with a countywide recipe contest.

The food bank is using the contest to spread the word about its nutrition programs and promote good nutrition in Southwest Washington.

"There's a very distinct link between hunger and nutrition," said Kaitlin O'Brien, an AmeriCorps nutrition educator at the Clark County Food Bank.

Healthy Recipe Contest

• To participate in the Clark County Food Bank’s Healthy Recipe Contest, call 360-693-0939 or it. Food bank staff on Saturday will also be at the Vancouver Farmers Market, 605 Esther St., to answer questions about the contest. The deadline to submit recipes is March 28.

For many people, the word "hunger" conjures images of emaciated children from foreign countries, O'Brien said. In the U.S., however, that's not always the case, she said.

"We're seeing a lot of people that are hungry but don't look hungry," O'Brien said.

Children and adults may be overweight but still experience hunger. Many times, that's because of the nutritional quality, rather than the amount, of the food they're eating, she said.

Some less healthful foods, such as chips and soda, may have more calories and be less expensive than more nutritional foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. A family trying to stretch their dollar may opt for the cheaper, less healthful foods loaded with empty calories, O'Brien said.

"The reason a lot of people in our community are hungry is a lack of nutrition education," she said.

O'Brien hopes the recipe contest will show people how to use their limited resources to prepare more healthful meals.

The contest is open to Clark County residents. Participants can choose between two categories for submission: Make Me Healthy and Make Me Balanced.

The Make Me Healthy category asks submitters to make healthy modifications to favorite family recipes. For example, making homemade spaghetti sauce rather than using store-bought varieties that may have added sugar or using whole grain pasta in place of regular, white noodles, O'Brien said.

For the Make Me Balanced category, submissions should meet the recommendations of My Plate, the food-serving diagram that replaced the food pyramid. These recipes should include portion sizes and ingredients that constitute a balanced meal, O'Brien said.

The food bank's panel of judges will award prizes to all deserving entries; there is no set number of winners, O'Brien said. The judges are looking for fun, creative recipes and will give all winners a cookbook with more than 300 recipes.

In addition to the contest, the food bank is compiling recipe booklets to be distributed through its partner food pantries and organizations. And, throughout the year, the food bank offers nutritional education courses for adults and adolescents.

Through those efforts, the food bank hopes to show people new ways to prepare nutritional meals, O'Brien said.

"Using simple, cost-effective stuff you can create a healthy, delicious meal," she said.