News From the Kitchen
Hi everyone! I’m Selma Nunez, the Nutrition and Sustainability Coordinator at the School Nutrition Program. I’m excited to announce that our School Nutrition Program is piloting new nutrition initiatives this year that will allow us to further health and wellness for the schoolchildren we serve. We believe that underserved individuals, especially those from low-income backgrounds, and their families, deserve health and wellness as much as any other population. Nutrition is very significant, and it can have positive or adverse effect with regard to health. Our hope at SNP is to both provide access to healthy school food and teach students how to make health-conscious decisions on their own. Furthermore, we intend to use school nutrition as a tool for further professional development for our youth in YDP as they continue to learn, grow, and lead in New Orleans and beyond.
Three new ways we’ll serve our scholars:
1) Local procurement: We’re building direct relationships with local farmers as we source product from them to use in our school meals. In this way, we are able to serve the best and freshest tasting ingredients in season. Ultimately, we plan to integrate visits to local farms as part of our curriculum.
2) Starting an on-site school garden: Last week, we held the official groundbreaking for a garden at Crocker College Prep! Many thanks to partners Sysco and Instar Farms for their help and support. This garden will be the site for nutrition lessons for kids and ultimately, we’ll be able to cook with herbs and vegetables we grow there. More importantly, we and the students will learn more about the ingredients in our foods and have a direct hand in the process of growth.
3) Nutrition education: This summer, I taught a pilot nutrition education course at the Jewish Community Center summer camp. We held lessons with 125 campers, showing them how to prepare healthy foods. It was a lot of fun! This fall, I’m starting a weekly after-school club called “Liberty’s Kitchen Lab” at Crocker College Prep to keep the momentum going with middle school aged scholars. Our first class was about getting to know the students and their current working knowledge around preparing, producing and eating nutritious food. We want to increase their knowledge of and hands-on training with the food process.
The long-term goal is to develop relationships with local farmers for the best regional/seasonal ingredients, encourage ongoing product knowledge through the school garden and build community exposure to different foods, and ultimately to see a decrease in obesity rates of our children as they make better-informed nutritional choices. We’ll apply knowledge and experience in nutrition to implement programs and services that support individuals and their families in their journey to improved holistic health outcomes.
As you can tell, we’ve got a lot going on, so stay tuned for more news from SNP.
~Selma Núñez – Nutrition and Sustainability Coordinator
Want more opportunities to learn about healthy, nutritious food in your communities? Our School Nutrition team has put together a survey to hear your ideas! One of our main goals is to support healthy lifestyles, and we can’t do that without your input.
Below is a message from our Nutrition and Communications Coordinator Caroline Robb, who is in charge of getting our healthy initiatives into our schools and neighborhoods!
We are in the development phase of creating workshops, courses, and other offerings for you to learn more about healthy eating, cooking, and other related topics. We are so excited to expand our community impact and to bring healthy lifestyle ideas to you, but in order to do so, we need your help! Please take a moment to let us know how we can best bring these opportunities to you by clicking this Community Education Survey. We can’t wait to get started!
Think we need more diverse programming in your community? We really want to know what you all are interested in– cooking skills? Understanding nutrition? Lifestyle balance? Budgeting? We want to help with all that we can, but we can’t if we don’t know what you might need. Please fill out this survey and give us all of your thoughts!
-Posted by Hana Rabin, Development Intern
We love our schools, and they love us! St. Andrews recently thanked Mr. Wendell for bringing them delicious meals every day, as he will now be a trainer in our School Nutrition Program!
“Mr. Wendell is beloved. We are excited that he is being promoted to trainer at Liberty’s Kitchen because he is so great at what he does. We will miss our daily moments with him. The Tadpoles made him a card and dessert to say thank you. We welcome Mr. Larry as our new delivery driver. We are very happy with our food provider. We get all forms of nourishment from our relationship with Liberty’s Kitchen!”- St. Andrews School
Mr. Wendell is an integral part of our operation here at Liberty’s Kitchen, as he has been with us for a long time providing meals to our schools. His promotion to trainer in our School Nutrition Program is a well-deserved step and we are so excited to see what he can do to expand SNP!
Here he is with Tallie, a St. Andrews student and Liberty’s Kitchen family member (Her dad, Seth, is our Director of Social Enterprise!)
We love providing nutritious meals to all of our schools every day, and bringing children of all ages food they might not have access to otherwise. This summer, we’ll be participating in the USDA Summer Food Service Program to continue delivering healthy meals to local children while school is out of session. Stay tuned for more updates from SNP!
– Posted by Hana Rabin, Development Intern
Gumbo is so indulgent, but it doesn’t need to be something to feel guilty about. If you ever want the New Orleans classic with a little ~extra~ nutrition, our School Nutrition Program’s healthy and delicious gumbo is the perfect dinner any day, but especially during National Nutrition Month.
Our version of gumbo is one of the most beloved meals we serve at SNP. We start with a traditional, rich, dark roux base and add our twist—loads of lean turkey, smoked turkey sausage, and plenty of fresh herbs and spices. The result is a lightened-up stew packed with flavor without an overload of fat and sodium. Served with brown rice and a side of okra, this fiber and protein-packed meal is sure to power you through the day!
This recipe is for 12 people, perfect for sharing with family and friends, but make as much as you want for a perfect weeknight meal! Gumbo is also super easy to freeze if you don’t have time to cook but still want something delicious and light. Make it on the weekend and go gumbo crazy all week long!
SNP’s Turkey Sausage Gumbo
1 lb cooked turkey or chicken, diced (breast and/or thigh meat best)
8 oz smoked sausage, sliced (turkey, if available)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (all-purpose will work just fine)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
½ head garlic, minced, about 4-5 cloves
1/3 cup Creole seasoning, to taste
2 bay leaves
8 cups low sodium or unsalted chicken broth
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, minced
1 cup diced scallion
Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large cast iron pot (at least 5 qt), begin making the roux. Add oil to pot, heating over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add flour, stirring constantly to remove any lumps, 2 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until mixture becomes glossy and dark brown, about 20-30 minutes.
- Add diced onion, bell pepper, and celery, sautéing until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add creole seasoning, thyme, and bay, and cook 2 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and whisk until roux is well incorporated. Allow to simmer gently until thickened, 2 hours.
- Add hot sauce to taste, and salt and pepper if needed.
- Add cooked meat and continue cooking until flavors are combined, 15 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning and turn off heat. Stir in chopped parsley and scallions. Serve over brown rice and enjoy!