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The Take Out Holiday Hunger team

Take Out Holiday meals take a bite out of hunger

Contributed By:The 411 News

Rural and urban communities connect through food partnerships

Chicken with carrots and sweet potatoes over herbed rice, mixed greens and a dessert made up the heat-and-serve meals at Saturday's Take-Out Holiday Hunger in Gary.

Along with the prepared meal, diners received a goodie bag of sweet potatoes, carrots, and a head of lettuce.

All the produce came from farmers in northwest Indiana. And the meals were free. All one had to do was sign up.

Preparing meals and delivering them to people where they live – in areas called food deserts because grocery stores offering healthy foods and fresh produce are few and far apart – was possible because of partnerships between farmers, urban and rural.

Partner Chef Tasha Coaxum, owner of Innovative Catering and Sweets, prepared 400 meals and gifts with produce from Five Hands Farm, Grounded Earth Farm, and Perkins Good Earth Farm. "They can still grow produce in their hoop houses during cold weather," Coaxum said.

NWI Food Council is the nexus among the partners. The council formed in 2015 to help small farmers in northwest Indiana counties thrive, and improve food access and security across the region. The council aims to connect rural farmers with communities that need access to fresh produce, believing both will benefit through collaborations.

The Gary Food Council developed soon after; formed to support the city's urban farmers, community gardens and backyard growers who wanted to join the food marketplace. The council serves as a forum for community efforts to improve access to the regional food supply and its distribution networks.

The meals were picked up at the ArtHouse in Gary, where Chef Tasha prepared them in the facility's commercial kitchen.

Sponsors and volunteers at Saturday’s meal distribution included Culinary Dreamers Inc., Indiana American Water, Decay Devils, Lake County Eats Local, and Sweet Potato Patch Chicago.

Diners received a prepared holiday meal of chicken with carrots and sweet potatoes over herbed rice, mixed greens, a dessert plus a gift of fresh produce

Take Out Holiday Hunger team: (l-r) Ann Massie of NWI Food Council, Marie Pittman of Lake County Eats Local, Chef Tasha, Stacey Minor of Sweet Potato Patch Chicago, and Alma Wilks of Gary Food Council

Story Posted:12/06/2020

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