Food Banks Take on Back to School: 4 Ways They’re Feeding Kids

The COVID-19 pandemic means back-to-school may look a lot different this year. Schools and parents are facing difficult choices about how best to keep kids safe this school year. Districts are choosing between in-person instruction, remote learning or a combination of both. And we are all feeling uncertainty about the future. Will my child be safe at school? Will they learn what they need to if they’re at home? How long will this go on?

Feeding America estimates 1 in 4 children could face hunger in the wake of the pandemic, and that includes many children relying on free or reduced-price meals at school. Parents of those kids are asking all the same questions everyone else is. But they’re asking one more: will I be able to feed my children this fall?

Feeding America and food banks across the country are busy making preparations to ensure kids have the food they need as they return to school; no matter what form school takes –virtual or in-person.

Four ways food banks are helping to feed kids and their families this school year:

1. BackPack Programs are providing kids with food to take home on weekends

Many food banks across the country run BackPack programs, which provide shelf-stable food for kids to take home on the weekend. If schools go virtual, families will be able to pick up this food at convenient community sites. Food banks are adapting to meet that challenge this year, including Northern Illinois Food Bank, which is providing students with bags that have sturdier handles to make picking up food or bringing it home from school even easier.

2. Drive-thru and contact free food pickup at local schools

Food banks are partnering with schools – even if they aren’t seeing kids in the classrooms – to give food to families of students using contact free pickups. Schools and food banks often give out fresh produce, meat, and pantry staples like pasta, peanut butter, canned fruit. At some pickups, families are not required to attend the school hosting the pickup.

For example, San Antonio Food Bank partners with a middle school that won’t be reopening immediately in the fall, but food distributions are continuing. “Pandemic or not, kids shouldn’t have to worry about going to bed hungry,” said Irene Alvarez, who manages the school’s food distribution.

Meanwhile, other food banks, such as Second Harvest Middle Tennessee, are adapting by providing schools with food each month that they can distribute to families as needed – including 30 schools in and around Nashville alone.

3. Bringing food directly to kids and families at their homes or bus stops

Food banks and their partners are working hard to make sure kids and families have food this school year and this sometimes means bringing food directly to homes or creating pop-up food pantries in neighborhoods.

For example, one pantry working with Feeding America West Michigan is using a school bus to deliver food to children in their school district. The pantry compiles a list of families that sign up in advance, they load the bus with food and make deliveries at three locations every week.

Similarly, Long Island Cares is delivering food to kids with a mobile breakfast program. Called the Aspara’Gus’ Food Truck, the truck stops at a number of community sites on Saturdays and Sundays, distributing free to-go cold breakfasts to kids.

4. After school meals are filling the gap in the evening

As school resumes, so do after-school meal programs for kids that help feed children who don’t have consistent access to food at home. Because many after-school programs before the pandemic included hot meals in a group setting, food banks are having to adapt to make sure kids still have a meal option without needing to eat with a group. Food banks like Capital Area Food Bank are keeping open all their after-school sites and are offering a to-go meal that kids can eat at home.

How can I help?

  • Volunteer at your local food bank. Volunteers are an important part of packing shelf-stable meals for kids or families when school is in session. Find your local food bank and follow them on social media to learn what they need most as children return to school.
  • Encourage parents who need a little extra help to reach out to their local school to learn what the qualifications are for meal programs. More families may be eligible for school breakfast and lunch programs this year.
  • Raise awareness about free meal programs for kids. Meals for kids are available, but often parents don’t know where to find them. Check with your local food bank and your school district about how you can spread the word.

By Feeding America

Côte at Home Shows How To Do Home Delivery With Flair Assuming Dinner Turns Up

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A Saturday night and my phone pings. It’s an email from a well-known courier company. Earlier that day they’d confirmed that my delivery from a high-street restaurant chain would arrive the next day. Now they were telling me it was cancelled: “Contact the sender directly for more information.” At 9.30pm on a Saturday night? Gosh, thanks. Last month, when I wrote about the enduring appeal of French food in Britain, I was emailed by a senior person from the high street bistro chain Côte. They had just launched their Côte at Home range, available nationwide. Would I like to try it?

I turn down over 95% of the freebies offered to me. Partly this is because I am drenched in enough privilege as it is. Wet through, I am. Also, where would I put it all? Mostly, though, I decline such because I’d prefer to experience products as other customers would. I’ve never eaten in a branch of Côte, but many people have told me they rather like them: a fair price point, reliable food and good service. (Complaints in 2015 about the unfair use of tips to top up wages led to a change in policy.) Accordingly, I declined the offer of Côte at Home for free and instead booked it myself. Now, here I was very much experiencing the gorgeous life of a valued customer: it was a Saturday night, I’d spent £85, and my planned dinner for Sunday night had disappeared, along with the contents of this column.

‘A generous portion of for £4.95’: roasted asparagus.

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‘A generous portion of for £4.95’: roasted asparagus.

Sod that. What’s the point of being thickly glazed in privilege if you don’t use it? I emailed the Côte exec. Much hand wringing. Apparently six packages had been lost by the couriers. It would be reorganised. Of course it would. Five other people probably have me to thank for their delivery turning up that Sunday, because I do wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t made a stink.

I mention this partly because it would have been far less than full disclosure not to, but mostly because I want them to sort it out. The thing is that Côte at Home is really good. Not just “good considering they’re a high street chain”, or “not bad at the price”. It’s proper good, in the way you tell your neighbours about over the garden wall while dissing the government’s latest knuckle-dragging stupidity. The online selection is so extensive – not just ready meals but cheeses, wines and butchery – that I wondered whether a food service company was involved. Apparently not. Côte introduced a central kitchen for some of their dishes a while back and, with the additions of a few buy-ins, it all comes from there.

Be prepared for packaging that recalls hardcore M&S: recyclable film-sealed plastic trays with cardboard sleeves bearing the legend “Handmade in the UK.” The labelling is supermarket ready, from allergens, through nutritional advice to ingredients and barcodes, with a chilled shelf life of a week. Look closely at those ingredients. It’s what those in the food business call a “clean dec” (short for clean declaration). It’s all words you would recognise, rather than the sort of preservatives and emulsifiers that allow certain foods to outlive that kitten you just acquired. The pokey vinaigrette, with a generous portion of roasted asparagus for £4.95, is made with Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and oil, just as mine is. The gazpacho, more than enough for two, and again for £4.95, is made with such exotic ingredients as tomatoes, cucumbers, red and green peppers, garlic and olive oil. It tastes as if it has just been blitzed in my own kitchen. I check. I hadn’t blitzed it in my own kitchen. There are brioche croutons and basil leaves to add. It’s bright and fresh with a strident peppery kick.

Have you ever stood in a supermarket aisle peering at ready-meal portion sizes, muttering: “Which two people is this for? A couple of four-year-olds who are off their food?” No? Just me then. These dishes pass that test. The most expensive is the beef bourguignon at £13.95 for two including a portion of their mash, the arrival of which shames me. But then it’s part of the deal and I’m working, OK? It’s a proper serving for two of me, made with long-cooked boulders of shin, glugs of cabernet sauvignon, lardons, veal jus and a fat old dollop of time. It is ripe and unctuous and could stick your lips together on a chilly day. It gives Tom Kerridge’s recent beef cheek bourguignon serious competition.

‘It’s a proper serving for two of me’: beef bourguignon.

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‘It’s a proper serving for two of me’: beef bourguignon.

Other highlights: a lamb parmentier that the packaging translates as a shepherd’s pie, made with both mince and pieces of lamb that have disintegrated graciously. There is salmon with ratatouille, and to finish, an impressive lemon and Armagnac posset spun through with zest for £3.50, or a classy apple tarte fine for £4.50. Home preparation has been considered. The oven needs to be at 200C for all of it, and cooking times are in multiples of 10 minutes, making it straightforward to get the dishes out in the right order. A slight niggle: the mash that I hated myself for having and the minted peas, required a microwave, which I don’t own. I did them on the hob. They were fine. I’d be very surprised if this service didn’t continue once the crisis ends, and far less surprised if the products turned up in supermarkets, though they’ll be hard pushed to maintain the current price point once retailers take a cut.

One other delivery: the small Mumbai-inspired group Dishoom have launched a kit enabling you to make their rightly famed bacon naans at home for £16, delivered via Deliveroo from their three London outposts. This did come to me for free, because I was then outside the catchment area, but I made a donation to the charity Magic Breakfast, which provides breakfasts in schools to kids who need them. (Dishoom makes a donation to Magic Breakfast for every kit sold).

‘Rightly famed’: Dishoom bacon naans.

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‘Rightly famed’: Dishoom bacon naans. Photograph: Charlie McKay

It’s a lot of fun, and is now available nationwide. You get the three pots of dough, so you have one to screw up (or fill yourself). Roll the dough out, put it into a fiercely hot dry pan for 30 seconds then under the grill for a minute. Works a treat. There’s cream cheese, tomato chilli jam, coriander and very good streaky bacon from Ramsay of Carluke. The good things to have come out of this crisis are few, but a Dishoom bacon naan at home is one of them. Next week this column should find me eating in an actual restaurant. Or just outside one. Fingers crossed.

Visit coteathome.co.uk and dishoomathome.com

News bites

A London-based wine company, Nice, was due to launch an Argentinean Malbec in recyclable cans for the 2020 music festival circuit, to go with their sauvignon blanc and rosé that went on sale in 2019. Now, with a lot of sturdy red wine on their hands, they’ve bottled it and are selling it with all profits going to NHS charities. ‘Wine for heroes’ is available via selected retailers, Amazon and their own website, nice-drinks.co.uk.

One issue of the furlough scheme for the restaurant trade has been that income from service charges through ‘tronc’ schemes was not regarded as the salary upon which government payments were calculated. Many employees, already on modest salaries, saw incomes cut in half during the crisis. It’s shone a light on what many see as the problematical nature of restaurant staff depending upon tips, by their nature variable, to get by. Now London restaurants Oklava and Hill and Szrok have joined a few others by announcing the scrapping of all service charges. The headline price of dishes will go up, but there will be no extra to pay and staff salaries will be guaranteed. Let’s hope it catches on.

A survey of 2,000 people by research company Perspectus Global has found that Lady and the Tramp sharing spaghetti is the most loved movie restaurant scene of all time. The top ten also includes Meg Ryan’s faked orgasm at Katz Deli in When Harry Met Sally and Mia and Vincent going for a burger in Pulp Fiction.

 

By:

 

Source: https://www.theguardian.com

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This Just Might Be The Best Pizza In The World

World Champion Pizza Maker Tony Gemignani with his Pizza Romana.

As former New Yorkers, my husband and I are very snobby about pizza.

So, although we hate to admit it, we may have found the best pizza in the world in … San Francisco?

The pies at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, are so good, they’re worth a trip from anywhere in the world. And you’d have to stay for a couple of days so you can really taste them all.

Owner Tony Gemignani has won many prestigious awards, including Best Pizza Margherita at the World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy, and Best Pizza Romana at the World Championship of Pizza Makers in 2011. He was the first and only Triple Crown winner for baking at the International Pizza Championships in Leece, Italy, and was the first American and non-Neapolitan to win the coveted title of World Champion Pizza Maker at the World Pizza Cup in Naples in 2007. He was also a pioneer in bringing several different styles of pizzas and other Italian dishes to the Bay Area.

Since discovering Tony’s, my husband and I have come up with creative excuses for visiting San Francisco on a regular basis because we literally dream about his pizzas and can only go so long without one.

Today In: Lifestyle

Here’s what Gemignani himself had to say when I asked him about all things pizza. Warning: Do not continue reading if you’re hungry. 

How did you get started making pizza? 

I’ve been involved in the pizza industry since 1991. I started making pizza at my brother’s acclaimed Pyzano’s Pizzeria in Castro Valley. Eventually I began working with different independent pizza shops and later went to Italy and traveled a ton. After winning multiple world pizza competitions, I made my way back to the U.S. and started to learn regional styles (think New York, Chicago, St. Louis, New Haven, and more).

Leading with my mission statement, “Respect the Craft,” I’ve devoted myself to learning everything there is to know about pizza, and I’ve aimed to showcase my knowledge and passion with each person that comes in to experience our menu of thirteen regional styles of pizza. This craft has taken me on a great journey that I’m excited to continue.

Did you know right away you wanted pizza to become your life’s work? 

I always loved cooking. Even in high school I took Home Economics courses. Back then I didn’t think anything of it. Then, quickly after high school I started working at my brother’s pizzeria and fell in love with it right away.

I ended up getting my pizza certification in Italy and am an official U.S. Ambassador of Neapolitan Pizza by the city of Naples – a prestigious title only given to three people in the entire world. I am also the first Master Instructor in the United States from the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli and am the proprietor of the International School of Pizza where I certify chefs from around the world—all through Tony’s Pizza Napoletana.

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching so many great pizza makers, who have gone on to open up their own great pizzerias and make incredible pie. In a sense, they carry on the work for me and it’s a very special process to be a part of.

What is about pizza that makes it so beloved to people?  

Growing up, pizza is every kid’s favorite food. It’s communal, fun, and easy—you can make it your own, whether that’s creating something simple or complex. You can make round, square, thick, or thin.

I think that sense of nostalgia stays with you as you become an adult. Pizza brings people back to when life was a bit simpler. And let’s face it, pizza is delicious no matter how old you are.  

One of the things that makes your restaurant so unique is the variety of ovens. Can you give readers a quick education, please?

Our menu offers a wide variety of Italian and American pizza styles, all cooked in one of seven different ovens. We have the true Neopolitan pizza made in a burning wood up to 900 degrees, to a blistering 1000 degree coal oven, along with an assortment of gas and electric ovens, each perfectly suited to the particular style of pizza cooked in it.   

What are the most popular pizzas at Tony’s? 

That’s a tough question. We have multiple award-winning pies on the menu, including our popular Margherita Napoletana (we only make 73 of them each day), Pizza Porto, Cal Italia, La Regina, Burratina di Margherita, and New Yorker which is coal-fired in our 1000 degree oven.

Which pie is your personal favorite?  

That’s like asking a father who his favorite son is. You know I have one, but I’ll never admit it. And, honestly, I love everything. That’s why I like to explore so many different styles of pizza.

Let’s talk about some other dishes like those incredible squash blossoms. How did you come up with those?

Being in California, we are very lucky to have access to some of the best seasonal produce. The California-style pizzas on our menu are a nod to these seasonal ingredients, and we have fun getting creative with surprising pairings. Last year, we launched the squash blossom & burrata pie inspired by the spring season featuring ricotta stuffed squash blossoms, burrata, prosciutto di parma, crushed red pepper, mozzarella, and shaved parmigiano reggiano.

Other than pizza, what are some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes? 

We make our own pasta and case sausages in-house, and offer a wide selection of pastas, antipasti, salads, and desserts. A few stand out crowd-favorites are the Coccoli (delicious rounds of sea-salted fried dough that can be filled with your favorite ingredients), Meatballs Gigante, Peroni Battered Fried Artichokes, and Housemade Bucatini Pasta.  

We should mention your wine awards, as well. What are they and what do they mean to you?

We recently received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for the 5th year in a row, which is such an honor. Wine Director Jules Gregg ensures that our wine list is as thoughtful and expansive as our food menu. We offer 65 different varietals and 185 wines, highlighting intentional selections from Italy and California.

Mixologist Elmer Mejicanos also provides a full bar program featuring hand-crafted artisan cocktails and an extensive tequila and beer collection.  

Tell us about the process of coming up with recipes. How do you experiment?

To make the perfect pizza, it’s all about the ingredients. I start with flour as the foundation; it’s  the heart and soul of pizza. Balance is important, but it’s really about your dough, sauce, and cheese. I always want to make sure that my dough balances with the other pizza flavors, while taking you through a journey with each bite.  

Describe those award-winning pizzas so we can drool a little.  

·     One of our most popular pies is the Margherita Napoletana (we only make 73 per day), a World Pizza Cup winner in Naples, Italy. It features dough finished by hand using Caputo Blue flour then proofed in Napolitana wood boxes, San Marzano tomatoes, D.O.P., sea salt, mozzarella for di latte, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.

·     Pizza Porto, my most recent award-winning pie, won the 2018 All-Stars Pizza Championship in Porto, Portugal. It features Portuguese chorizo, nduja, micro greens, mozzarella, top Sao Jorge cheese, port reduction, crema di port, and smoked sea salt.

·     Cal Italia, a gold medal winner of Food Network’s Pizza Champions Challenge, features asiago, mozzarella, Italian gorgonzola, Croatian sweet fig preserves, prosciutto di parma, parmigiano, balsamic reduction, and no sauce.

·     La Regina, a gold cup winner at the International Pizza Championships Parma, Italy, features soppressata picante, prosciutto di parma, mozzarella, parmigiano, provolone, and arugula.

·     Burratina di Margherita, a gold cup winner at the International Pizza Championships Lecce, Italy, features burrata, cherry tomatoes tossed with fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic reduction.

·     New Yorker, a gold medal winner Las Vegas, features mozzarella, hand crushed tomato sauce, natural casing pepperoni, sliced Italian fennel sausage, calabrese sausage, ricotta, chopped garlic, and oregano.  

How does it feel to have your pizzas named best in the world? How do you top that?! 

It is truly an honor and a blessing. It’s also a bit surreal—especially to have won internationally. It’s one of the best feelings ever, but I’m always trying to make it better. After I win a championship, I look at that pizza and think to myself—how can I make it better?  

What’s next for you?  

I hope pizza lovers will come visit us at our Bay Area and Las Vegas locations in exciting new venues. We also have Tony’s locations in San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium and Tony G’s within the new Chase Center, and there are more to come soon.  

Do you ever get sick of pizza?

Never.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I believe the world would be a better place if we all traveled more, and I write about everything from luxury spas, cruises and hotels to quirky museums and street food in order to encourage people to get out and explore. When I’m not traveling around the globe—and even when I am— I blog at Midlife at the Oasis, my award-winning website. Over the past 20 years, I’ve written for dozens of magazines and was a Contributing Writer to Entertainment Weekly for more than a decade. In 2010, I was one of the Ultimate Viewers selected by Oprah Winfrey to accompany her to Australia. Since then, I’ve won three BlogHer Voices of the Year awards and become a Travel Expert at USA Today 10Best and a regular contributor to AAA Midwest Traveler and Southern Traveler. I’m a member of Society of American Travel Writers and North American Travel Journalists Association. Join me on my journeys on Instagram and Twitter @loisaltermark.

Source: This Just Might Be The Best Pizza In The World

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21 Incredible Pasta Dishes To Enjoy On National Pasta Day

 

Bucatini Cashew-Kombu Cream at Osteria 57 in New York City.

National Pasta Day is coming soon. While October 17 may be a great excuse to try a new pasta dish, these options are so incredible that we recommend enjoying them all year long. Starting today, ideally.

At Osteria 57 in New York City, this is a vegan pasta dish with incredible Japanese Umami flavor. The dish is made with cashew-kombu cream, Mediterranean pesto, Sorrento lemons and breadcrumbs to give it a fresh, satisfying Mediterranean taste with rich, savoriness from the umami flavor. “It’s uncommon to think ‘vegan’ when you hear of Italian cuisine since most dishes have meat and/or cheese. So I thought of a pasta that I can serve my customers that’s packed with flavor and combines ingredients from my two favorite cuisines- Italian and Japanese. Knowing that a majority of umami flavor in Japanese cuisine stems from kumbu, I decided to create a cashew-kombu cream sauce and flavor it with ingredients that reminds me of the southern region of Italy. There’s fresh basil, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, white fennel, capers from Sicily, lemons from Sorrento with the cream sauce as a clear tribute to the magic of ingredients,” said chef Riccardo Orfino.

Wagyu Pappardelle

Wagyu Pappardelle at Margot Los Angeles.

Margot