If you already know anything about Youth On Their Own (YOTO), you may be wondering why a homeless person needs a cookbook. Let’s talk about what homelessness means for YOTO. For most of us, having a home means stability, and when we were growing up it meant having parents there to provide food, love and guidance. For YOTO students, over 1,600 of them this past school year, that stable home life does not exist. A roof is over their heads but that roof may change frequently as the young person moves from friend to friend, relative to relative, or foster home to foster home. Yet these young people, through the help and support they get from YOTO, stay in school and graduate.
Among the many things YOTO students can access because of their affiliation with YOTO is a mini-mall/pantry. This mini-mall can provide up to 10 pounds of food to a YOTO student each week. Coming up with new ways to prepare the limited pantry items is not easy for most teenagers so The Women of Quail Creek is working to create a basic cookbook using items typically available from the YOTO pantry.
That’s why we need your help. We need recipes that are easy to follow, are non-cook or require only a microwave and use the following items always available in the YOTO pantry: Red, black, white and pinto beans (canned); canned vegetables – corn, green beans, carrots, peas, potatoes, mixed veggies; macaroni and cheese; pasta (boxed); canned tomato products; many varieties of soup/broth; canned tuna and chicken; Top Ramen; applesauce; peanut butter and jelly; spaghetti sauce; instant oatmeal; shelf stable milk (excepting Parmalat).
YOTO does often grant gift card requests to students ($25 gift cards) throughout the school year and many students report using these funds to purchase fresh food such as produce, milk, eggs, etc. Some recipes can include useful tips on ways to spice up a dish if a student has extra funds available and could purchase one to two extra ingredients with their own money to enhance the meal.
The cookbook will be available at YOTO’s Student Success Center and may become available online. We will be working with Diego Coronado, an AmeriCorps Volunteer for YOTO who has already worked on other nutritional information that we will include.
If you have a recipe that fits our needs, please send it to [email protected] by July 1. We will be using only first names of recipe authors in the publication.