EMFVs Tour the Food Bank

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Last month, Extension Master Food Volunteers (EMFVs) and the Family and
Consumer Science team members from Brunswick and New Hanover Counties toured the Wilmington Branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. This branch serves Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover, and Columbus Counties.

The Wilmington Branch Director, Beth Gaglione, gave us the tour. She
explained that the overall goal of the food bank is to eliminate hunger in these four counties. The food bank does not provide food directly to individuals but distributes it through 88 non-profit partner organizations. These organizations are local food pantries, backpack programs, soup kitchens, shelters, and children’s feeding programs.

The food bank gets its food in several different ways. Local grocery stores or local farmers and growers can donate the food. Some food is also purchased at wholesale prices. They strive to have more fresh products and foods that are
high in nutrition.

The food bank received a donation of over 2000 pounds of local sweet potatoes just before our visit. After the tour, we stayed and helped other volunteers bag these sweet potatoes into smaller packages that could easily be distributed.

A group of people in front of a mural that reads "Welcome to the Food Bank of Central Carolina.

Always looking for a way for people to get a little more nutrition into their meals and use some of the food distributed by the food bank, Kathleen Hoolihan, Nutrition Education Coordinator for the Food Bank, developed this recipe for Sweet Potato Cornbread. This simple recipe adds mashed cooked sweet potato to a box of cornbread mix.

You can use leftover cooked sweet potatoes or cook some specifically for
use in this recipe. Sweet potatoes can be cooked in the microwave (HIGH power for about 5 minutes or one or 5-7 minutes for two potatoes) or in the conventional oven (about an hour) until they are tender. Sweet potatoes can also be peeled and placed in water and simmered until tender. Allow the sweet potato to cool slightly, peel and mash.

This recipe calls for only ½ cup of mashed sweet potato. If you have too
much, mix the extra with a little orange or lemon juice (to keep the mashed
sweet potatoes from darkening). Eat these cooked mashed sweet potatoes within four days or freeze them for later use.

If you have too many sweet potatoes to eat before they go bad, baked sweet potatoes can be frozen. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, one way to freeze is to wash, trim and heat
sweet potatoes in an oven at 350 degrees without peeling them until soft. Cool,
remove the peel, and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Place in freezer
bags and freeze. When you want to eat them, place the foil-wrapped
potatoes in a 350-degree oven and bake until hot and completely tender.

Sweet Potato Cornbread

  • 1 box cornbread mix (8.5 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup sweet potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray or
    lightly grease muffin tins with vegetable oil or butter or use paper liners.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl combine cornbread mix, egg, sweet potato,
    and milk.
  3. Fill muffin tin with mixture.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes or until muffins are done.

Makes approximately 7 muffins.

The food bank is funded by the USDA, city, and county funding, and also from donations from individuals or local organizations. They are also always looking for volunteers that can help with packaging and distribution.

For more information on how you can help, check their website at foodbankcenc.org or call 910.251.1465. The branch is in the process of fund
raising and building a new location in Wilmington.


Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910.253.2610 or by email at cheryle_syracuse@ncsu.edu.