Ethnic communities crave foods steeped in their culture and traditions
Food does more than satiate hunger. It connects people to their familial, cultural and spiritual roots. 카지노사이트
But finding culturally appropriate foods can be challenging for populations dealing with food insecurity, members of Chicago-area ethnic communities say.
Although vegetables such as corn are widely available to everyone, “that’s not the traditional corn that we grow,” says Gina Roxas, program director and medicinal garden manager at Trickster Cultural Center, a nonprofit Native American cultural arts and learning center in northwest suburban Schaumburg. The center grows traditional foods at a local community garden.
The center grew culturally significant squash and three varieties of traditional corn this year: Hopi blue corn, Potawatomi red corn and Oaxacan green corn. The red corn seeds were passed down through Roxas’ family, members of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.
The taste and texture of traditional corn, used in traditional stews and cornmeal, is unlike the supersweet varieties found in the typical supermarket, Roxas says.
Many local grocery stores just don’t stock the kinds of foods some populations are used to eating. And urban apartment dwellers, especially renters in population-dense areas, often don’t have access to land to grow their own food.
Dorene Wiese, founding president of the Chicago-based American Indian Association of Illinois, says her organization has tried unsuccessfully for years to acquire space for growing and teaching.
“It’s been a struggle for people who want to access and grow and learn about foods that are native to their tribes,” says Wiese, a tribally enrolled member of the Minnesota White Earth Ojibwe.
When the COVID pandemic hit and emergency food distributions began, that highlighted a cultural divide.
“We have folks who were given food boxes and they were very grateful for them,” Roxas says. “But they were calling and saying, ‘I don’t know what this is and I don’t know how to prepare it.’ “
The Chinese American Service League, or CASL, devised a plan during the pandemic to feed its older clients culturally appropriate meals, says Brandi Adams, vice president of advancement.
Many of the seniors were homebound because they feared getting infected or becoming victims of anti-Asian hate crimes. Adams says they faced additional hardship when restaurants closed or scaled back.
Many relied on children or grandchildren, some of whom worked in restaurants and brought meals home to them or prepared family meals. Job losses and layoffs tightened family budgets.
CASL learned some of their clients were rationing food.
“We explored options to try to connect them with existing programs, and we quickly found out that our seniors were not interested in meatloaf and hamburgers and hot dogs—very Americanized food—because that’s not what they’re used to,” she says.
Meanwhile, the pandemic had shut down the agency’s culinary training program and graduates suddenly didn’t have job placements.
Then CASL hit upon the idea “to hire our graduates back and start a senior meal program,'” Adams says.
A typical meal for the 350 senior clients includes rice, fruit and vegetables, and beef with rice noodles, chicken with lemon pepper or pork chops with hoisin barbecue sauce. The agency is in the process of expanding the program.바카라사이트
In 2021, Pan de Vida, a food pantry in Little Village, advocated for more Mexican products in emergency food packages from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The pantry also received calls from clients who didn’t know how to cook certain items, such as collard greens.
Rosario Dominguez, communications and marketing director at New Life Centers, says the depository responded by providing packages with tortillas, beans, rice, corn flour, limes, tomatoes, avocados and cilantro—all items familiar to their Latino clientele.
Adams says government officials should consider the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islanders and other people of color when developing grant guidelines for food programs.
“A lot of times, the fine print in those funding opportunities allow for only one vendor and is not inclusive of different ethnic foods,” she says. “You get one vendor that does only one type of food.”
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