Chicago’s Chef Fron Battles Senior Hunger with Culinary Delights

The following was contributed by The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division. Check out their website at: http://www.salarmychicago.org/

Senior citizens at The Salvation Army Corps Community Center in Blue Island, Illinois, are getting a healthy twist to their lunches thanks to their new Aeroponic Tower Garden and the culinary delights of chef Chris Fron.

The garden,  located on the roof of the Blue Island Corps, is an implementation of innovative advances in technology that bring new growing concepts and techniques to agriculture.  Blue Island’s 30 towers equal up to 10 acres of conventional farmland.

“There’s definitely a difference you can taste in the produce we use from the aeroponic tower garden, it tastes much better,” said Fron.    “It’s fresh produce from farm to table, so there’s no loss of nutrients through warehouse storage and transportation. ”  Chef Fron and a handful of senior volunteers tend the garden, planting and harvesting the fresh produce.

For the past two years, Chef Fron has brought his vast culinary experience to the Blue Island Corps.  A Chicago area chef for more than 16 years, Chef Fron was classically trained at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, but his love of cooking began early.  “I’ve been cooking since I was 5. Camping in the backyard making bacon and eggs is what got me hooked.”

Fron says that the Senior Lunch Program at the Blue Island Corps is what made him want to work with The Salvation Army.  The program, created to help seniors socialize and eat balanced and nutritional meals, follows strict nutritional guidelines that meet seniors dietary needs.  Offered free of charge, more than 250 seniors participate in the program each week.

“When I came on board, I took the program and really gave it an upscale feel, much like a restaurant,” said Fron.   “I love that I can do classic comfort food from scratch in an intimate setting.”

Between 2001 and 2009, the number of people age 50 and older struggling with hunger rose by nearly 80 percent.  Today, almost nine million older Americans are at risk of hunger.   This is why senior lunch programs, like the one at The Salvation Army Blue Island Corps, are so important.

Check out how Chef Fron makes a delicious squash salad or Red Russian Kale – both great for the fall season- in the video below, and give them a try for yourself!:

Squash salad

(4 to 6 servings)
4 squash
1 T rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
lime zest from 2 limes minced
1/4 tsp basil
3 T Olive oil
Wisk vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, zest and basil.
drizzle oil while still whisking.
add squash and toss, refrigerate for one hour to let flavors combine.
Saute Red Russian Kale
(1 serving)
1 T Olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
6 to 8 kale leaves
De stem kale, and slice in ribbons
heat pan, add olive oil
add garlic wait until it all sizzles then add kale immediately,
Saute until soft about a minute to two minutes depending on the freshness of the kale.