Things Get Dirty at a Salvation Army Thrift Store

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dirt? It’s not an item you’d expect to be for sale at a Salvation Army Thrift store.

But in Billings, Montana, that’s just what you’re going to find, and The Salvation Army promises it will be “top-of-line” quality.

To be more specific, workers are starting an organic Bokashi composting business and selling some of it to local home gardeners. The rest will go to community and school gardens the Army is helping establish.

The entrepreneurial idea is just in time for the approach of spring!

Plus, The Salvation Army composting business will support nine formerly homeless men who are working on the project. Salvation Army Major Kevin Jackson says their entrepreneurial skills have really shined since the start of the operation. In addition to expanding their business skills, the men are taking educational courses, adding up to great experience and knowledge that will make them competitive in the job market.

Get all the dirty details about The Salvation Army’s compost initiative here at the Billings Gazette.

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From Our Kitchen To Yours This Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 14, 2011

Maybe you’re cooking dinner for a special someone this Valentine’s Day, or maybe you’re celebrating with some close friends. Whatever your situation, we’ve got a tasty meal idea for you from Salvation Army Chef Josh Arnold who runs our Culinary Training Program in Louisville, KY.

He’s shared a Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo and Chocolate Covered Strawberries recipes that will help you keep things simple but sweet this Feb. 14th.

Once you’re done creating your own culinary masterpieces, read here how Chef Josh is using his kitchen to help the homeless and low-income individuals turn their lives around.

Bon appétit!

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SHRIMP FETTUCINI ALFREDO

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fettuccini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp – peeled and deveined
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt to taste



Directions

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2. In a large skillet, sauté shrimp and garlic in the butter for about one minute. Pour in half and half; stir. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese in one tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. After all Parmesan is added, mix in parsley and salt. Stir frequently making sure it does not boil. Sauce will take a while to thicken.

3. When sauce has thickened, combine with cooked pasta noodles; serve hot.

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CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES

Ingredients

  • 1 12oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 12 oz. package white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, brandy, coffee or your favorite liqueur
  • Approx. 50 strawberries
  • *Chopped Nuts optional*



Directions

1. Rinse strawberries and dry completely

2. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Mix in half and half and vanilla. Remove from heat.

3. Push a toothpick into the stem end of the strawberries. Dip strawberries into the melted chocolate. Turn strawberry upside down and push the toothpick into a styrofoam block, or set on very lightly oiled piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, so the chocolate will dry evenly. Allow to set.

4. Melt white chocolate and drizzle over the dipped strawberries.

*Optional – Roll freshly dipped strawberry (while chocolate is still melted) in your favorite chopped nuts.*

5. Allow to set until ready to serve.

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Chefs for Hope

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A few months ago, they were homeless or barely getting by. Many of them had no background in cooking. But just last weekend they were working alongside several of Louisville’s top chefs, preparing and serving $250-a-plate dinners to a crowd of 100 diners at the ‘Chefs for Hope’ benefit.

They are the newest students of The Salvation Army Louisville’s Culinary Training Program, which provides homeless and low-income individuals with the skills they need to earn jobs in the food service industry. And while they may still be searching for permanent housing or a steady job, they’re now getting the experience and support they need to make it happen.

The ‘Chefs for Hope’ benefit is just one part of the students’ months-long intensive training, but it provides a unique and encouraging opportunity for them to work alongside local culinary stars. Louisville’s Courier-Journal ran a great article about the event, the proceeds from which will support the Culinary Training Program.

After reading about the six course meal and appetizers, no doubt you and I both wish we could have been at that dinner, but don’t worry! Next week, just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re going to feature some special recipes from the Culinary Training Program’s head chef Josh Arnold.

Be sure to check our blog Monday for some edible inspirations from The Salvation Army’s kitchen.

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Feeding the Need 2011 – New Food Survey Report

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Experts say the US’ economic recession ended in June 2009, but if you ask the general population, many will probably tell you they’re skeptical and are still feeling the pain.

The Salvation Army has just released a new report today that also seems to show the recession is having a lasting impact on Americans.

We talked to more than 30 Salvation Army food service programs across the country to put together “Feeding the Need 2011,” a survey conducted between October 2010 and December 2010 that represents the experiences of Salvation Army officers and employees who work directly with clients in need.

Based on the national feedback we’ve seen from our food service programs, there are many Americans still struggling and in need of help, despite experts’ assessment that the recession is over.

Here’s a few key findings from our “Feed the Need 2011” survey:

* 94% of Salvation Army food service programs reported an increase in requests for food assistance in 2010.

* Nearly 60% of Salvation Army programs saw donations remain flat or decline from all funding sources, including government, public and private sources.

* Of food programs surveyed, 55% reported that their shelves were half-full or less.

* 23% of programs reported that volunteering rates increased in 2010, a sign that many Americans are beginning to donate time and talent instead of money.

Learn more by downloading the complete “Feeding the Need 2011” survey here.

Donors and volunteers can learn more about supporting The Salvation Army by visiting www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

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Turning Leftovers into Abundance

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ryan Cox is a 14 year old from Jacksonville, FL who has found a unique way to support the needy in his community. The teenager has provided thousands of pounds of food for hungry, impoverished persons in Northeast Florida through his “gleaning efforts.”

Gleaning is an ancient, biblical practice that involves gathering leftover crops that would otherwise rot from fields that have already been formally harvested.

Ryan has gleaned and donated more than 3,000 lbs. of fresh produce to The Salvation Army and other non-profit agencies. He started at the age of 12 when he needed to complete several service hours for his church confirmation. During his first gleaning experience, he harvested potatoes from a farm in Hastings, Florida with other 7th grade boys. Despite being hot and dirty after many hours of hard work, they were thrilled to have harvested hundreds of pounds of potatoes!

Having previously served meals at a Salvation Army soup kitchen, Ryan knew first-hand that they could use more fresh produce, so he made it his personal mission to continue gleaning as much produce as possible.

In 2010 alone, he gleaned more than 2,000 pounds of potatoes, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and citrus which he and his parents delivered to The Salvation Army. The value of Ryan’s donated food is worth more than $4,200 and has provided more than 1,600 nutritious meals for homeless men, women and children. According to Ryan, this is only the beginning. He continues to set personal gleaning goals and well surpasses them.

[Produce]

Head Chef for the local Salvation Army, Anthony Mosely, cannot say enough about Ryan and his gleaning efforts.

“Ryan has literally saved us thousands of dollars in produce costs and had added variety and freshness to our meals. He is an enthusiastic kid with an abundance of energy and ambition. He is the kind of kid they should make a movie about. How many kids his age do you know that set personal goals of helping to feed homeless people – and then actually follow through on them? This kid is amazing!”

And amazing he is! Ryan will be entering high school in the fall and shows no sign of slowing down in his efforts to help others.

From all of us at The Salvation Army, thank you Ryan for your outstanding work and leadership! You are a true blessing and role model.

Information submitted by The Salvation Army Florida Division.

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Brett and Deanna Favre Come Through for Salvation Army in Big Way

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

[Brett and Deana Favre pose with one of the families they sponsored through The Salvation Army.]
Brett and Deana Favre pose with one of the families they sponsored through The Salvation Army. (Photo: Craig Dirkes)

The Salvation Army’s Northern Division (serving Minnesota and North Dakota) shared this story of holiday generosity with us and we couldn’t pass up sharing it with you.

This Christmas the Salvation Army Northern Division wanted to give needy families and individuals in the Twin Cities food baskets with all the fixings for a proper Christmas dinner.

However, they knew it wouldn’t be easy. Their food pantries have seen a 30% – 150% increase in demand since 2008. Plus, they received assistance requests from 1,000 more families this year than they did last, but donations were down nearly half a million dollars.

So the Army launched a fundraising effort with a goal of $60,000 in order to provide food for 2,000 families…but they only raised $300.

Then they received a call from Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre’s and his wife Deanna’s community outreach rep. The couple wanted to adopt some families through The Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family Program and wanted to know what other ways they could help. After hearing about the Army’s food baskets plan, they donated the entire $60,000 out of their personal funds to cover the project. Thanks to their generosity, 2,000 families and individuals received two boxes stuffed full of food.

[Brett and Deana Favre hang out with families at a private meet and greet.]
Brett and Deana Favre hang out with families at a private meet and greet. (Photo: Craig Dirkes_

Plus, they adopted four families in need, all of whom were in some way battling cancer, an issue close to Deanna Favre’s heart.

Not only did Brett and Deanna purchase generous presents for each sponsored family, they set up a meet and greet at the Vikings practice facility where kids and parents got to hang out with the star couple.

When asked why he supported The Salvation Army programs, Favre said he strongly believed it’s much better to give than to receive.

The Salvation Army Northern Division posted photos here on their Flickr page.

We don’t know how to say thank you enough to the Favres for their kindness! The Salvation Army is blessed by their generosity and it helped bring a very happy close to the year for thousands of our clients.

Favre chats and signs an autograph for a young fan. (Photo: Craig Dirkes)

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Cheesecake Factory Makes Hearts and Stomachs Happy

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today we want to give our friends at The Cheesecake Factory a big shout out and thank you for their help in ‘doing the most good’ for people in need.

On Thanksgiving Day, for the 9th year in a row, more than 3,000 Cheesecake Factory staffers volunteered to serve a Thanksgiving Day Feast at Salvation Army Community Centers across the country.

From Anaheim to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Long Island, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, they served up A-MAZ-ING meals to more than 6,000 low-income families and individuals.

There was turkey and all the trimmings, plus… The Cheesecake Factory’s famous Pumpkin Cheesecake! Yum! Their cheesecake is so good you order it before your meal (if you’ve ever eaten at the restaurant, you know what I’m talking about).

The delicious food and friendly service from the volunteers made for an incredible feast that our Salvation Army clients will not soon forget.

Thank you, Cheesecake Factory, for sharing the love and sharing the food to meet the needs of the hungry.

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Fight Hunger with a Click and a “Like”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Did you know that in the United States 1 in 6 people don’t know where their next meal will come from? Or that 37 million people have sought help from food pantries or banks? Did you know 18.5 million children eat free or reduced-price lunches at school?

Walmart stores are pledging over $2 billion by 2015 to fight hunger in America, and between now and the end of the year they’re letting you choose to whom $1.5 million of that will go.

How It Works:

* Visit fightinghunger.walmart.com where you’ll find a list of 100 communities along with each of their food hardship rates.

* Login to Facebook and “Like” the community you think needs the funds the most. Your “Like” counts as one vote.

* The community with the most votes will receive $1 million, and the next five communities will receive $100,000 each. The funds will be divided up amongst a number of local organizations fighting hunger (like The Salvation Army) in those supported communities.

You’ll be furthering the cause with just a click of a mouse.

If the virtual world isn’t your preference, or you’d just like to do more, step away from your computer and into a Walmart store this week. From Nov. 15 – Nov. 22 Walmart facilities across the country are hosting in-store food drives to benefit local-area food banks. Donate non-perishable foods for another simple way to help fight hunger.

Find Walmart’s Fighing Humger campaign on Facebook here. While you’re on the site, swing by The Salvation Army’s page here.

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A Taste of New Orleans

Monday, August 30, 2010

This morning I was reading a few articles about President Obama’s commemoration of the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The first family traveled to New Orleans where the President addressed Xavier University yesterday.

As the articles discussed the President’s official business in ‘The Big Easy,’ I found it interesting that most of them made it a point to mention the President’s lunch. His speech, visit to a local housing development, and even meetings with hurricane survivors did not overshadow his sumptuous shrimp po’boy.

Why was the seafood sub such a big deal?

A few thoughts:

1.The strength of small businesses gives a fair read on the pulse of the economy, and a mom & pop restaurant sure looks hopeful and healthy when you have the President as a patron. Plus, it’s exciting for locals!

2. Food is comfort, especially during hard times.

3. Identity is often linked to food. What better way to affirm a recovering community than to chow down on a traditional meal that represents what New Orleans is about?

In fact, The Times-Picayune recently ran an article about how Hurricane Katrina affected the New Orleans food culture.

Item #3 on the list: Locals’ Appreciation for Food Deepened.

The article quotes a director of a New Orleans non-profit as saying, “In a very intense, concentrated space of time, people found out what really mattered to them. Food became the most important rituals of our lives.”

Item #8 on the list: New Orleanians began cooking all over the country.

This point was most interesting to me since NPR just ran a segment that featured a displaced New Orleanian. Patrick Wooten and his family were air lifted to shelter when their neighborhood of Algiers flooded during the hurricane. They’ve permanently relocated to Plymouth, MA where Patrick now works as a chef at The Salvation Army. Though the setting is a lot different than New Orleans, Patrick keeps in touch with his Cajun roots by serving up home cooking at The Salvation Army kitchen. What a great way to remember and share his Creole culture!

Lucky for us, Patrick shared with NPR his Dirty Rice recipe that he made on Sunday to remember the 5th anniversary of Katrina. I’m including it below for anyone who’d like a New Orleans culinary lesson:

Recipe: Patrick Wooten’s Dirty Rice (Serves six)

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Andouille sausage
1/2 pound ham steak, cubed
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Worcestershire sauce
Uncle Ben’s white rice

Instructions:

o Brown the meat until beef is no longer pink.
o Add Worcestershire sauce.
o Remove meat from pan and saute vegetables in the leftover oil.
o Add cooked rice and more Worcestershire sauce to taste.
o While it cooks down, “sit and wait like a pit bull.”

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Congrats, Culinary Grads!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Congratulations to the newest graduates of The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program in Louisville, Kentucky! Chef Timothy Tucker’s program marked its 5th anniversary last week with a ceremony recognizing 10 more individuals who have successfully completed the intensive, hands-on courses. The students, all of whom are either homeless or living below the poverty line, began their classes about 10 weeks ago with little to no knowledge of the kitchen and now are equipped with the skills they need to be competitive candidates for employment in the food and hospitality industry.

And as an exciting Program first, alumni Jackson Hodges was awarded a two year scholarship valued around $40,000 to Sullivan University where has the opportunity to study either culinary arts or baking and pastries!

Chef Tucker’s program has been gaining attention around the community and across the country for its innovative way of fighting homelessness and poverty. This formally-trained chef left a lucrative career and joined The Salvation Army, where he’s invited the disadvantaged and destitute to join him in the kitchen. As they work over cutting boards and stove tops, there’s more than just great food being served. Somewhere along the way the students have cooked up hope, empowerment, and a permanent solution towards self-sufficiency.

Read more about The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program on our Salvation Army national blog here and at the Culinary Program’s websites www.cheftimothytucker.com and www.cheftimothytucker.blogspot.com. You can also show them your support by following them on Facebook!

Again, congratulations grads! We can’t wait to see the many opportunities that await you.

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