Food Security in Bergen County, NJ (S2E8)

You wouldn’t think an upscale area outside of New York City as a place where people go hungry. But they do, but the county has created a task force to ease hunger in the county.

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Bergen County Food Security

Recipes thoughtfully created by culinary students of Bergen Technical Schools using ingredients commonly found in food pantries

About the Church of The Holy Communion Food Pantry

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Food Security in Bergen County, NJ (S2E8) Transcription

David Martin: This is the good government show.

Susan Colacurchio: Bergen County hunger strike. Crazy. Wow. That can be a real.

Maria: The center is like. Oh, like a lifeline. And they never seem to say no to you. There’s always something for you. And just happy. You know, God provides very they’re very kind and they say hello with a smile and you know, they know your name and it’s good.

Joanne Scalpello: They not only show up in tears, they to say thank us. They don’t. They tell us, you know, Julian, I don’t know what we would do if you are in here.

Carol D’Auria: Today, we’re talking about Bergen County, New Jersey. It’s a wonderful place to live. In fact, lots of celebrities were born or have lived in Bergen County. It’s quite affluent, but it also has a problem that really lots of communities these days struggle with, and that is hunger, food insecurity. And that’s our topic today. So welcome to the Good Government Show.

It’s all about how government saw a problem and fixed it. How government help fill hungry bellies in an affluent community. Welcome to our show. I’m your co-host, Carol D’Auria.

David Martin: And I’m Dave Martin. First, this is the good government show. If you like us, tell your friends to listen to make sure to follow us and please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and rate us where you listen to us. It helps us bring you more stories of good government action like this one.

Carol D’Auria: Okay. So first, some quick trivia, Dave. One actor was born in Bergen County, New Jersey, who starred in Get Shorty, Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction and Urban Cowboy.

David Martin: Well, that, of course, is John Travolta, right? Who I did. I guess he’s not a real cowboy then, you know, just the movie cowboy.

Carol D’Auria: And do you remember the name of the TV show where he starred as Vinnie Barberena?

David Martin: Of course, Welcome Back Kotter, about a bunch of kids right here in Brooklyn.

Carol D’Auria: Love that show.

David Martin: Yes. Who everyone loves. Vinnie Barberena. But, you know, you talk about Jersey. You’ve got to talk about The Sopranos, right?

Carol D’Auria: I know. I know. James Gandolfini, so popular in the Sopranos. And so anyway, Bergen County is an affluent county. It’s in the northeast corner of New Jersey. It has nearly a million people. So we’re talking on a big place. The median household income is about $109,000.

David Martin: So this is not a place where you would think of as a problem with hunger. I mean, it’s a very affluent New York City suburb, but there must be problems. And how big are these problems?

Carol D’Auria: Well, they had so many problems, Dave, that they had to form a task force to deal with it. And we’ll talk about the nuts and bolts of that in a minute. But David, I want you to hear first from a woman. She is fantastic. Her name is Sue Colacurchio. She is the executive director of the Franciscan Community Development Center of Fairview.

Carol D’Auria: Now, Fairview is a community in Bergen County. Fairview is what’s known as a food desert.

David Martin: All right. So let me stop here. What exactly is a food desert? Can you define that?

Carol D’Auria: Okay. Well, the powers that be say that a food desert is a place where it’s really hard to buy affordable. That’s the key, affordable and healthy food.

David Martin: So it’s not just stuff you pick up at a convenience store.

Carol D’Auria: Right? Right. And among other things, Sue runs a pantry where she talks about this.

Susan Colacurchio: People in the beginning like Bergen County Hunger, crazy. Well, I mean, it may be crazy, but I think COVID kind of leveled the ballpark. And there were people of all walks of life in all socioeconomic backgrounds that were on our line. So I think that COVID said it was, okay, you can come out for help and there was no discrimination at that point.

So, you know, I think the concept of hunger in Bergen County was like, wow, that can be a real place for working people who were not working, who had tremendous difficulty in getting through on unemployment and actively online, and then, you know, we also had and still have people that are on fixed income.

David Martin: So that was during the height of COVID, but people are getting back to work now. But it’s still a problem here.

Carol D’Auria: It is still a problem because although COVID is starting to lessen in many areas, it’s also increase in others. And the cost of everything, including food. You know, Dave, it’s skyrocketing. We have inflation, right. So sure. Let’s talk about the numbers now. This is according to a woman named Tracy’s her. And she’s really important. She is a Bergen County commissioner and she’s the one who spearheaded the food security task force.

David Martin: So she must be our hero in this, right?

Carol D’Auria: Yeah.

David Martin: We always look for the government here.

Carol D’Auria: Absolutely. All right.

David Martin: So here I says, what is our hero?

Carol D’Auria: She says the county may be affluent, but during the pandemic, food insecurity increased. Check this out. 70%, 70%.

David Martin: That’s a big number.

Carol D’Auria: It is. And it hasn’t declined. It is actually it’s stabilized, but it’s not going down. So where they might have been feeding, say, 20 families or 30 families at a local food pantry before the pandemic, that number is now 220 families.

David Martin: That’s not just doubling. That’s a significant increase.

Carol D’Auria: Yes, absolutely. So here’s Traci.

Tracy Zur: How many people don’t think is the problem here? They think this is, you know, a city urban problem. They don’t realize it. So many of their neighbors are making really difficult choices between paying their car insurance and eating. And so, you know, making sure people are aware and understand the face of hunger in the suburbs and that there really are so many challenges.

Carol D’Auria: Isn’t there? Also in especially in the suburbs, unfortunately, a bit of a stigma about people going to a food pantry.

Tracy Zur: Absolutely. And that’s you know, we have we have one community that is all delivery service to the people in need, because people are ashamed to come forward at intellectual food pantry and ask for help. So they deliver it to limit that stigma. And some of these, you know, in some of these communities, you know, we also have many seniors who are struggling or many, you know, people who have other, you know, mobility issues.

And sometimes those who for whom transportation is an issue, you know, getting to the food pantry, the challenge as well.

David Martin: So, you know, how hard is it to put a food pantry together? I mean, all you need is some dollars, a few grants and some donations, a little canned food and you’re good to go. Right.

Carol D’Auria: All right. And that is what a person who operates a food pantry might do. The thing is, it gets more complicated than that when you are dealing with so many people in need. You know, at one time it was just a church with a little pantry and a few people came. Right now we’re talking a lot of people remember before COVID, a food pantry might serve 30 families.

Now, we think COVID is lessening in some spots, but they’re continuing to provide food for 350 families.

David Martin: So these are these are big increases even in Bergen County.

Carol D’Auria: Yeah. And increases at each place, not just one place. So Traci Serve, who formed the task force, said they just had to organize this mess. The pantries, they had to put them into a network so they could work more efficiently. And, you know, you don’t want to waste any food.

David Martin: No, I see you want to do is have food that needs to go to people not being used.

Carol D’Auria: Right. Right. Exactly.

Tracy Zur: One of the things that was really interesting to me when we began is that most of the food pantries were not talking to each other. They were not connected to larger organizations like the Community Foodbank in New Jersey to be able to provide additional sources for food. And they said they weren’t connected to each other. So first of all, by building a community and, you know, sharing best practices, you know, it became one of our accomplishments is the first time somebody got an extended delivery of milk to be able to put it out to the network.

I had extra milk and others, you know, be able to distribute that. That level of kind of coordination and cooperation is something that I’m really proud that we have built, and it’s a real hallmark of resilience that we built in this food pantry network that we’re establishing. You know, we’ve provided grants through the American Rescue Plan to provide infrastructure share improvements so that the pantries can invest in a computer like many of them.

Like it was shocking to us at the beginning how few of the food pantries actually had computer technologies or databases or ways of communicating with their clients efficiently. And we’re working hard to remedy that.

Carol D’Auria: Dave Running a food pantry is really a lot like running a business. There’s a lot of money involved to purchase food and lots of customers. Susan Colicchio, who runs that Franciscan Community Development Center, she has to deal with that, and she really paints a picture of how some of it works.

Susan Colacurchio: In Bergen County, Ridgewood applied for the same third grant. It was a they received $1,000,000. And what they is, is that this was at million dollars. And they said, okay, you’re going to make meals. That’s 10,000 meals. But they have to be healthy and they have to be hot. And what we’re going to do in the evening is that we’re going to designate certain food pantries that are really in need, and we’re going to have volunteers pick up the hot meals and deliver them to the specific food pantry.

Well, what that did for I was amazing. It was super helpful on every human level.

Carol D’Auria: So what kind of meals do they make?

Susan Colacurchio: Oh, great meals. Every all the restaurants in Ridgewood basically participated. They were awesome. So like Puzo’s, which was an Italian restaurant, they did pasta and they had one night they had a party with people. They did Tonya with me, but it was all well balanced. They did eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan. And on the side, of course, in Cambodia, Dan Hamburger did great hamburger.

Plus they gave the salad green fusion. They were vegetarian, so they did a lot of lentil risotto, you know, things like that. So we would receive 900 meals Monday nights and we would receive 900 meals on Thursday night. So every week we would feed 1800 meals and the clients would line up at 6:00 and by 645 we were done in 45 minutes.

We gave out 900.

Carol D’Auria: Wow.

Susan Colacurchio: And some of the same like with birthdays and Mother’s Day, you know, because it was it was really a clean indignity, you know, where this restaurant food, it would never be able to purchase. So that helped us in the pantry because we knew that, okay, you know, we’re going to have food Monday night and that’s going to last until at least Wednesday.

And then Thursday we’re going to have heaters again and that will last until Monday. So by the weekend and those families had kids or whatever we gave a meal, family member, if they had kids, we threw in extra meals so that they could have it for lunch and things like that. So that helped tremendously was like pantry food for the soul because the waiting they, you know, when they come to the food pantry, they pick up their packages, you know, they walk away like we defeated.

Like, I’m really sorry I have to be here. Thank you very much. But when they came to the meal, it was a completely different attitude. They were happy. They were. Oh, my goodness. Thank you. It was like, yes, it was so grateful and proud to have these meals. So it did a lot psychologically for them, more than that brown bag working in the center.

David Martin: It was a plate of dignity. Wow. That is that’s really something that’s really saying something. I mean, you know, you want to have food. You want to have food for your family, for your kids.

Carol D’Auria: But nobody wants to be seen as like a beggar.

David Martin: No, but I can see how having a really, you know, nice dinner makes a difference in some people’s lives. I can see where. It’d be difficult to admit that you may not always have enough money to buy food. It’s one of the basic ways people measure success. You know, going out to dinner, having food, having a lot of food.

And that’s really someone’s personal story. I want to hear more personal stories.

Carol D’Auria: And you will hear that. But first, a word from our sponsor, Naco, the National Association of Counties.

The Good Government Show welcomes a new sponsor for season two, and that’s NACO. And that’s the National Association of Counties. Carol, did you know that county government affects more people than any other form of government?

Carol D’Auria: Well, I do now. Funny you would think city or the federal government is bigger.

David Martin: Well, right, but. But it’s not. You’d think about this. Roads, highways, hospitals, schools, recycling, law enforcement, water, sewers: in most of the country, those services are maintained by the county. That’s county government.

Carol D’Auria: And we want to see good county government. And that’s where Naco comes in.

David Martin: Exactly. They’re a nationwide organization that represents all 3,069 counties across the U.S..

Carol D’Auria: Now, that’s a lot of support and more importantly, brain power.

David Martin: Exactly. And they have many organizations and committees and they do things like share best practices and they work together on national issues.

Carol D’Auria: And they are urban, suburban and rural counties that have different challenges. But they can still work together.

David Martin: Yes, they all work together. So NACO helps county government work better. And as we see in this and other episodes, when county government works well, that’s just good government.

Carol D’Auria: So thanks, NACO, for providing us with great stories and helping support good government.

David Martin: And thanks NACO for supporting the good government. And remember, citizens, don’t forget to vote.
Welcome back to the good government show. So, Carol, I want to hear these stories.

Carol D’Auria: Okay. So going to a food pantry isn’t really something that everyone is comfortable talking about. But I did talk to one woman in the community of Fairview and she really opened up to me and she’s so sweet. She’s so grateful that she has the food bank in her life, not just for herself, but for her family. And her name is Maria.

Maria: I have kindergarten, second grade and third grade. I’ve got left back and my husband has his job and sometimes he has jobs, sometimes he does. And thank God the kids, they go to school, they eat lunch at school and breakfast. But it’s a tough I’m just very happy because, you know, we’re able to plan what we’re going to eat and we make it last.

And it’s different foods and it’s good. And the kids are happy because it doesn’t it doesn’t seem like it’s so hard when they come home, like the food is there.

Carol D’Auria: And that’s how she gets what she needs, which is so important.

Maria: The hot meals two nights a week at dinner time. So that’s really good. I get a lot and the pantry and I schedule and once a month I get the food from the pantry, cereal, we pass the tuna. And then if I need more, like if we run out, I can always call and they can give me more.

Carol D’Auria: Are you able to pick up like fruits and vegetables as the pantry or not so much?

Maria: It depends what they have. Apples, bananas, sometimes mangoes. It’s always like different. And sometimes I get a gift card for $40 and I can go to city supermarket. Then I usually get week. But everything’s so expensive at the store. Yeah, everything’s going up. So this is this is a big, big thing. The center is like a like a lifeline, and they never seem to say no to you.

There’s always something for you and just happy, you know, God provides very they’re very kind and they say hello with a smile and they know your name and it’s good.

Carol D’Auria: So there are lots of food pantries. They need food, they need money. And Tracey’s there who organize a Bergen County food security task forces. They really need donations. They need the bucks.

Tracy Zur: It is much more expensive to buy, you know, broccoli and zucchini and store it and whatever than it is to have canned food. You know, like so, you know, we have a we have some organizations that are involved in food rescue, you know, table to table and others in our county that go and reclaim that food before, you know, before it goes bad.

And to get it to our food pantry in a timely fashion for them to disseminate. And that’s this it’s been okay for us. We’ve definitely supported that. But it is making sure that, you know, you know, we funded this article called for Just Food Rescue do table to table where the corporate kitchens and things of that sort who have extra at the end can call and a volunteer will come and pick it up and then disseminate it to the pantries in a timely fashion.

So it’s a lot of things that we’ve we’ve funded and that we’ve, you know, engaged with. But the bottom line is it’s continually driving home that this need is so here. It’s still this. It’s not going to go anywhere fast. And we all a role to play in helping support our neighbors. So we’ve been working with our local hospitals and going out to find this amazing job of creating a nutrition program where they talk about how to make the most nutritious meals out of your pantry by the Jabbar they can.

And, you know, those kinds of the information piece is really important, but so is the donation piece and making sure that we’re, you know, we’re, you know, getting Girl Scout groups to sponsor fresh fruit. Naturally, we have a really interesting partnership that we fomented between a medical care practice group that was looking to do something impactful and they provided six, initially six months worth of all the fruit and vegetables in this one local food pantry for them needed and their members volunteer there.

And then they just they put it out to their folks. Do you want to continue to do this? And they had a voluntary pick up box. They give dollar to you know, whatever out of your paycheck. And they’re going to be able to continue to do this and support this. Food pantries needs for fruits and vegetables, that kind of partnership between, you know, a pantry and a, you know, a business.

That’s exactly the kind of relationships we’re trying to continue to establish.

David Martin: Wow. Carol, this almost inspires me to, like, start growing tomatoes in my backyard so I can give some way.

Carol D’Auria: And people that the fresh produce that was really expensive. So when you think of food pantries these days, you have to you really have to think bigger.

David Martin: So bigger than my backyard.

Carol D’Auria: Yeah, absolutely.

David Martin: All right. Sorry.

Carol D’Auria: I to know if a lot of tomatoes.

David Martin: Just try to help.

Carol D’Auria: I spoke to Joanne Scalpello now she’s the director of the Norwood Food Pantry. It’s also in Bergen County. There are a lot of these. And she started that ten years ago. It was part of her church. It was the Church of the Holy Communion, a Christian church. And they served, you know, a few senior citizens, maybe 20 families.

And they would just do it for that church.

David Martin: So what are the things that I kind of I’m starting to understand here is it sounds like they put together a whole network.

Carol D’Auria: Absolutely. They had to link all of these little pantries and it gets them talking to each other.

David Martin: So all these people are sort of doing their own individual thing.

Carol D’Auria: Right.

David Martin: And now they’re together. Right. And is it working?

Carol D’Auria: Absolutely. Is working. They started out serving maybe 20 families at the Church of the Holy Communion. Now they serve 90 families. And when you think of families, that converts to 300 individual people, it’s a lot of people.

David Martin: And that’s part of a whole network of all these other people are doing the same thing. So you’ve got a real wide circle of of food pantries, part of the network.

Carol D’Auria: Exactly. And now so not only are people who live here spending more for everything, whether it’s gas, their car, food, and that’s why they need the food pantries. Now, you have lots of immigrants who are coming from different parts of the country and wow, they need food, too. So the numbers just keep growing. And Joanne, scalpels, people are really so grateful.

Joanne Scalpello: They not only show up in tears, they have their say, thank us. They don’t. They tell us, you know, Joanne, I don’t know what we would do if you weren’t here. There were times when during the holidays I would get little gifts from the families and they can’t even afford to come and get food. But they would give us a little points, set a plan or something.

If they traveled back to their home country, I would get a little something from them. They are just so appreciative and you could tell by their faith they come, they say Hello.

Carol D’Auria: Magdalena is one of the mostly Spanish speaking people. She uses the food pantry at the Franciscan Development Center, and she, too, she absolutely loves her food pantry. And just listen to this. She really speaks from the heart.

Magdalena: In mood for me. Very good. I appreciate it. I have my family, my half and my grandson, my daughter, very good and very healthy and good for us.

Carol D’Auria: So, David, this is all really important information. It’s this is.

David Martin: All great stuff.

Carol D’Auria: It’s great.

David Martin: That people getting sad who may be sad.

Carol D’Auria: People should not go hungry. But you know what? I have to confess, all this talk about food makes me hungry.

David Martin: All right. Well, we should eat soon.

Carol D’Auria: Okay. More on that after the break.

The Good Government Show is sponsored by Liquid.

David Martin: So here’s the thing about Liquid. They do their homework. So, Carol, I’m going to give you a fun fact. A recent study found that over 80% of retail shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. Do you do that?

Carol D’Auria: Yeah, I like to know what I’m buying, but if you’re a business, it takes more time than researching for a new TV, say.

David Martin: Yeah. And for a business, you really have to do your research and you really have to evaluate who you’re working with and make sure the company are about to partner with is a good fit.

Carol D’Auria: And that makes sense. So you want to stand out to other companies that are checking out your company.

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Carol D’Auria: And it’s not just about a website. See how much I learned about Liquid since the first season?

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Carol D’Auria: And you will love Liquid as much as we do.

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We want to welcome back as a sponsor to the Good Government Show, Kutztown University of Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Carol D’Auria: And you want to talk about their rugby team?

David Martin: Well, they do have a good rugby team that just won a national tournament. And what I did was I called a friend, his daughter played at Kutztown, she played on the rugby team and asked him what did he like best about Kutztown?

Carol D’Auria: You mean besides the rugby team?

David Martin: Yeah, besides the team, obviously the team first. But he responded immediately and said something I didn’t know. His favorite thing is the chicken tower or it’s also called the Angry Chicken.

Carol D’Auria: What? I hesitate to ask. The Angry Chicken?

David Martin: Well, it’s such a landmark that it’s actually the school’s logo. It’s a clock tower. And apparently when you look from a special angle, the clock looks a little bit like a chicken with an open beak. So it’s the angry chicken.

Carol D’Auria: Okay, then. Well, let’s talk about the other stuff like that their degree program in music business is now nationally accredited. They offer undergraduate certificates in cybersecurity and technical writing.

David Martin: So is this what we do? Is this technical writing?

Carol D’Auria: Oh, no, no, no. Take his class and maybe get better at writing.

David Martin: Oh, come on. That’s not fair. You know what? You would benefit from the new graduate certificate program and be a school social worker. Maybe you’d be nicer.

Carol D’Auria: All right, well, the point is, Kutztown is a forward-looking university. They also offer Pell Promise scholarships. And for students to qualify, student tuitions and fees are all covered.

David Martin: And that’s just some of why we like Kutztown and are happy to be associated with this university. Oh, my friend thought it was really cool that sometimes the locals stay right here in a horse and buggy. So check out Kutztown University. That’s Kutztown University and cheer on the rugby team.

Carol D’Auria: Of course.

David Martin: Yes, please.

Carol D’Auria: Welcome back to the good government show and this is one of my favorite things to talk about food and cooking.

David Martin: Cooking and eating.

Carol D’Auria: In my other life. I could just do that.

David Martin: That’s it when you’re tired.

Carol D’Auria: That’s right.

David Martin: I think it’s like you have to be that way.

Carol D’Auria: Yes, you’re right.

David Martin: The big thing is a big family table. Yeah.

Carol D’Auria: And we really do have that just like the stereotype. I hate to admit it. So I cook. What about you, Dave? I’ve known you for a long time. 25 years?

David Martin: Yes, yes, a long time.

Carol D’Auria: I know you like to eat, but can you cook?

David Martin: Yes, yes, yes.

Carol D’Auria: Really?

David Martin: Oh, sure, I could. I can give a little gumbo, a little jambalaya. We can do some ribs on the grill. Absolutely.

Carol D’Auria: So this is sort of thought of you as like a meat and potatoes guy. So a steak in the oven. And I said.

David Martin: Oh, no, you don’t throw a steak in the oven. You got to grill it. And then there’s fried rice, you know, Chinese.

Carol D’Auria: So, yes, when we go to Chinese food, you always guess I.

David Martin: Always get fried rice. Right. And, you know, I we were talking about this. So you told me about this. And I looked on the Food Security Network on their website and they have a bunch of recipes. And I pulled one up. I just wanted to share this with you because I thought it was really, really good. It’s just a basic recipe for fried rice that’s on their site.

It’s cooked rice, which is easy. A little sesame oil, onion, peas and carrots, a little soy sauce, a couple of eggs, and then some green onions on the top if you want if you want to add some like diced chicken or some diced pork or even in some shrimp, that’s a really nice, easy, simple recipe that’s right there on their website.

And one of their dishes.

Carol D’Auria: I would think. Actually, it does sound easy. I’ve never tried it, but I really should try it because my kids love that.

David Martin: Well, sir, you’ve got to I always get a little fried rice when you’re at a Chinese restaurant.

Carol D’Auria: Now, I have two favorite dishes to tell you about. Do you like lentil soup?

David Martin: Lentil soup? Not my favorite. Not going to say how you know how much a ceiling.

Carol D’Auria: You would say that? How about lasagna?

David Martin: Lasagna? We’re talking. They have a recipe here for something. Well, they do look a little look.

Carol D’Auria: Okay. But first, let me tell you, I spoke to Stacey and Tina. She is a registered dietitian and she runs a wonderful foundation that does all kinds of things. It’s called the Health Board Foundation. And one of the things they do is they cook prepared meals for food pantries. And she has these wonderful recipes. She has a great way of serving food.

And a lot of people like you might wrinkle your nose at, but she does it in a way that it disguises. She disguises the ingredients that people don’t like and she makes them taste.

David Martin: So you say they’re like, I’m like a kid. You have to slide by carrots. Yes. Oh, no, no. Come on. Give me a little credit.

Stacey Antine: The lentil soup and we bake it. Italian style lentil soup. So the carrots and their celery tomatoes, it it’s delicious. But I would say our cheesy lasagna rolls are like a family favorite and they are like on high demand. And what’s great about that is that we have we just use one strip of pasta with lasagna and our filling is a light on the ricotta cheese, but mostly silken tofu and we add spinach to that and some home cheese and some mozzarella, we just roll it.

And then we have rolled as opposed to layers of the pasta with cheese. And and that’s just not creating a healthy choice. So we kind of took a spin, a healthier spin on lasagna and a fun way that they get frozen as it was annuals. And then you can take them out individually or you can take them out as it’s always serving the four.

And so these, you know, they went to Fairview and we did it as a test pilot at the Franciscan Center for Development, not knowing if that if their clients would accept that. And I can tell you that the clients at the Franciscans have requested it. Ridgewood Social Services have has requested it. And the same request that we’re getting at tomorrow’s Children’s Fund at Hackensack Hospital.

So then the parents are thrilled because they’re like, oh, wow, this is great. My kids are eating that. And and everyone’s eating healthier, lower carb, higher protein. And but but in a format that they can eat, probably never thinking they would have tried this.

David Martin: So, you know, I’ve been looking over these recipes. There’s lots of really good stuff. What’s what’s the purpose of these recipes? Why did they put this together?

Carol D’Auria: Okay. So here is what happens. A lot of people, you know, in the old days, women, especially girls, would sit at their grandmother’s knee or their mothers and they would learn how to cook. But, you know, over the generations, a lot of that has fallen by the wayside. As women go out to work, they work outside the home.

There’s nobody teaching the cooking. So they’re finding that when you go to a food pantry, when they give the raw ingredients like, say, lentils, people look at it and they don’t know what to do with it, so they don’t take it. And then all of a sudden, the food pantry has a stockpile of lentils. So what they’re finding is that they prepare the meals.

They give people a taste of what something is like. And that was they’re hoping is it will spark some interest sparked something.

David Martin: Okay well here’s a recipe I saw this is this is a great recipe when it’s especially, you know for basic ingredients at a food pantry it’s basic Italian bean soup. I mean.

Carol D’Auria: I love being so sure.

David Martin: You know, it’s not minestrone that you get at a really great Italian restaurant, but this looks really delicious and really simple. Olive oil diced up an onion, a little garlic, some a little tomato sauce. I can only beans, dried basil, oregano, and you just mix it up into a nice soup. It says right here, prep time, 10 minutes, cooking time, 10 minutes.

That’s a meal.

Carol D’Auria: That’s a it’s a great meal. And you know what? You can tailor it to your family if you know and you know, they don’t like carrots. Okay, leave out the carrots. You might put something else. You might put a little celery in or a little broccoli. You can almost do anything you want with it.

David Martin: Are they finding that people are like checking out these recipes and doing stuff with them?

Carol D’Auria: Yes, they are. They are. Because so suddenly somebody will say, okay, maybe I’ll maybe I’ll take those beans because now they know what to do with it.

David Martin: Okay, that makes sense. Now, here’s a recipe. This is might be a little more complicated, but it’s.

Carol D’Auria: What’s that?

David Martin: It’s well, it’s called braised chicken with peppers and onions. So little chicken.

Carol D’Auria: Okay.

David Martin: You take a whole chicken, you just cut it up into pieces, a little salt and pepper, a little oil onion, a little garlic, and then, you know, cut up some peppers, jar of pasta sauce, something you have lying around the house. And then you can either serve it over pasta or just make it by itself. All you do is you simply brown or braise the chicken through all the ingredients and let it simmer.

Throw it over some spaghetti.

Carol D’Auria: Oh, and you’re done. And you know what?

David Martin: Now you would eat that?

Carol D’Auria: I would definitely eat that.

David Martin: So you were a big fan of this recipe with.

Carol D’Auria: No, it was like, you know what, if you don’t cook the the chicken long enough, I don’t like the blubbery skin like crispy skin.

David Martin: So you have to have you have to cook the chicken.

Carol D’Auria: Right. And you know what else you need, David? What do you mean, good knives? Because if you take a whole chicken and you try and cut it, if you don’t have a good knife, it’s not going to work.

David Martin: Because in government, chef.

Carol D’Auria: We talk all day.

David Martin: We we do. We are not doing a food show. We are doing a government show. But but here this is a great example of how government really stepped in to help. I mean, I like this idea, you know, what’s the expression? You know, give him an official feed for a day. Teach him an official officially for a lifetime.

And this is basically what they’re doing here. Right?

Carol D’Auria: Right. So, David, when you put all of this together, this is government, good government at its best. There was a hunger problem in Bergen County, in New Jersey, and there still is. And the county said, we can fix this. And they did. They put together a task force and a wonderful network of food pantries, and they’re solving a problem.

And that’s the good government show.

David Martin: That’s well and right. Okay. I’m sorry. I’m back on recipes. Crustless quiche. I mean, I like quiche. I know, you know, real manzoni quiche, all that stuff.

Carol D’Auria: But it’s good though.

David Martin: Oh, this is delicious. My wife makes a great quiche eggs. You put it in a pan. Anyway, we can do this forever. Yes, this is good. Government and action. This is. And what’s more important, really, at the end of the day, than feeding people. Exactly. Especially in a place like Bergen County, where you wouldn’t expect that to happen.

And it happens across the nation and it’s good to see that someone in Bergen County stepped up and created a program. And I. I was really inspired by what you were saying when they really pulled together a whole network. Was that hard? Was it hard?

Carol D’Auria: Well, you know what? What made it easier was they gave people computers, okay? And they were suddenly linked by a computer. Oh, and so if you needed something, you could just go into the computer. Yeah. And say, anybody have just.

David Martin: Ten pounds of pasta.

Carol D’Auria: Yeah. You know, because sometimes you would get a delivery by mistake and then what are you going to do with all that pasta? What are you going to do with all those beans?

David Martin: So they had a network they could spread it out to, right? Oh, that make that has to make a difference. So how do you know how many there are how many of these different food banks are in in Bergen County?

Carol D’Auria: There are countless because each each church can have a food bank and. A lot of them start ad hoc when suddenly something somebody has a problem, they start collecting food. And then I’ve done news stories about this. Wow, they have so much food. What do they do with it? So they have to bring it somewhere. So there are lots of food banks.

David Martin: Lots of food banks and lots of food banks in Bergen County because they created the food security task force. Yes, that’s the food security task force. Well, that’s good government and action.

Carol D’Auria: And this is the good government show. I’m Carol Diorio.

David Martin: And I’m Dave Martin. Thanks for listening. See you in the next episode of The Good Government Show.

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The Good Government Show is produced by Valley Park Productions. Jim Ludlow, David Martin and David Snyder are the executive producers. Jason Stershic is our producer and editor. Some transcriptions were done by Kofi Ajeasi Ampah. Our hosts are me, David Martin and Carol D’Auria. Join us again for the Good Government Show, wherever you listen to podcasts.