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Frozen & vacuum packed local freezer meal kit designer and trainer

Teens, retirees, food pantry folks, cafeteria staff & F&CS teachers & dietitians make freezer meal kits from whole foods in school kitchens

Photo of Anna Dawson
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

My 1400 sq. ft. NYS Ag. & Mkts. and Columbia County Health Department inspected kitchen is called Hometown Foods, LLC

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Sue Decker's small farm called Blue Star Farm Samascott Farm

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.hometownfoods.harvestkitchens.net This will change to a cook's collaborative freezer meal training & product development website.

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Kinderhook, NY 12106

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

This freezer meal concept can be done in any state in the United States at school kitchens and inspected small food porcessing kitchens.

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I designed and built this kitchen on land left after selling my family farm and retiring from teaching Family & Consumer Sciences at Ichabod Crane Central School--my alma mater. I saw my neighbor farmers leaving good food in the field that could be preserved. A Cornell student memory of seeing meat frozen and vacuum packed in 1962 inspired me to explore freezing fruits, vegetables, cooked dry beans, savory sauces and cooked whole grains. This is easier than canning with many more creative healthy frozen options that can be used to meet various food related health needs

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

My kitchen's is located in the Hudson Valley north of New York City along the east side of the Hudson River south of the state capitol at Albany, NY where many small and mid-sized farms grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and animals for human consumption. Many NY city people are moving up to hilly Columbia County due to city flooding fears from climate change. The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park is currently working with Harvard to address the food related health issues of our society and climate challenges. Graduates from the CIA working in my kitchen know little about freezing & vacuum packaging. The North East is where community scale frozen food innovation is needed. A 2016 study in Vermont by a large food bank revealed 14 million pounds of vegetable and fruit waste from 50 farms. Small scale growing of a variety of crops on these farms is the rule. Large scale food processing is limited due to this scenario. Consequently my idea of school food processing is key to sustainability. My power point training materials at the community kitchen scale is urgently needed. USDA Food & Nutrition folks now will provide schools with funding for equipment to freeze and vacuum pack the local harvest. School cafeterias are encouraged to buy 30% of their needs from local farms. Obviously freezing in the spring, summer and early fall is the time when this can be done. Sharing my work with the NYS school cafeteria association of over 200 schools resulted in only two interested school cafeterias. Currently there are gardens for elementary school students. School cafeterias add the fresh vegetables into school meals. This experience can be expanded in the middle school when Family & Consumer Science classes begin teaching students how to cook. High school culinary and foods classes can take students into community experiences visiting farms and freezing donated local foods in foods classes if training materials are available. Helping the cafeteria folks freeze and vacuum pack during school holiday time can expand student and community interest in frozen product development and entrepreneurship.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

58916

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The 2018 population of the four other counties in south eastern NY follows: Columbia County 58,916, Dutchess County 293,240, Putnam County 98,892, Westchester County 967,612 and NY City is over 8 million. Many farms sell fresh produce south of Columbia County.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Individually frozen and vacuum packed foods reduce farm food waste; trains local people how to easily preserve the harvest; inspire new food combinations that reduce the use of sugar (ex. use naturally sweet grape and pear puree to sweeten other fruit based products)

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Combining teens with retirees and other adults will expand young people's knowledge of history and expand their abilities to talk and work side by side with older adults. It will build their cooking skills and expand their taste experiences.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Teens ride by farms in buses focused on their cell phones. Visits to farms to study adopted crops, glean and use produce will connect them to future summer farm jobs. Farmers tell me that few teens want to work on weekends or in the summer. Food pantry folks are second generation trained eaters of highly processed foods. Working in school or church kitchens with real food will expand their offerings to their children which will improve their brains and bodies. Dietitians who help schools produce healthier meals from local foods will now expand their influence beyond talking about what to eat to designing healthy food options that folks can make for themselves.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email

Attachments (1)

2019 freezing veggies 3.17.19.pptx

This 33 slide power point shows examples of frozen and vacuum packaged vegetables processed into coins, cubes, pieces, purees, seeds and shreds for freezer meal kits along with a label for a stir fry kit.

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Team

Thank you so much for the Food Extension Initiative.

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