By Cathy Duchamp
The Maryland Food Bank is putting the finishing touches on a commercial kitchen that will feed needy families and train people for culinary jobs, by recycling food.
Aida Blanco used to run the kitchen at the Crystal City Hilton in Arlington Virginia. One thing that really bugged her: what to do with all that food leftover from conferences?
"It would kill me to throw it away," says Blanco.
Blanco has turned her obsession with leftovers into a full-time job, as head chef at the Maryland Food Banks’s new commercial kitchen.
"Lets say we got 10,000 lbs. of tomatoes. We can turn it into sauce, soups, ziti, lasagna, just endless opportunities," she says.
The D.C. Central Kitchen was the nation’s first program to turn surplus food into meals for needy families. Job training is a big part of that project. It will be too at the Maryland Food Bank.
Blanco will teach 100 people a year how to make frozen dinners that take minutes to cook. That’s the clincher for Maryland Food Bank chief Deborah Flateman.
"Low income people are busier than we are, because some of them are working two or three jobs. They want to sit down with their kids and have a family meal. And that’s what this will allow them to do. They can have it in the microwave, heat it up, snip it open and you’ve got supper," says Flateman.
Flateman says that convenience will make daily life for low income families easier.