Cooking and Food Skills

Baking for a Cause: The Story of the Cambridge Food Bank’s Food Rescue Program and Their Amazing Preserves and Baked Goods

Our Story

At the Cambridge Food Bank, a remarkable transformation takes place. What starts as rescued produce needing a second chance turns into delicious preserves that not only sustain our participants year-round but also generate vital funds for our cause. In this blog post, we had the pleasure of speaking with Vi, the Food Rescue Coordinator, who shared the inspiring story behind the Cambridge Food Bank’s venture into the world of preserves.

Rescuing and Creating

Using fruits and vegetables, Vi and her team carefully handcraft a variety of mouthwatering jams, sauces, and relishes. By preserving these flavours, they not only prevent waste but also create products that capture the essence of seasonal abundance. Each jar tells a story of generosity, sustainability, and culinary delight. 

Seasonal Abudance

With an abundance of carrots, apples, pears, and other seasonal produce pouring in, Vi worked her magic, turning them into delectable sauces, jams, and relishes. From the mouthwatering carrot cake jam to the tangy dill pickles, the Cambridge Food Bank preserves became a testament to Vi’s culinary skills and resourcefulness.

Embracing Change and Learning

Making preserves dates back to 1795.  With changing regulations and advancements in preservation techniques, Vi embraces the opportunity to expand her knowledge. She’s learned the importance of maintaining proper temperatures, following correct procedures, and adapting recipes to suit modern standards and different produce characteristics.

The Sweet Taste of Success

The pride that Vi takes in her preserves comes from the joy she experiences when receiving positive feedback. The absence of additives in Cambridge Food Bank preserves ensures a healthier alternative for consumers. Vi’s commitment to creating natural, wholesome products stems from her desire to provide her own children with additive-free options and inspired her to master the art of homemade cooking.

Looking Ahead

Vi’s future interests lie in pressure canning, allowing her to explore new avenues and expand the Cambridge Food Bank’s preserves collection. She emphasizes the importance of understanding consumer preferences and ensuring food safety. By actively seeking feedback and conducting taste tests, Vi believes that the Cambridge Food Bank can continue to grow in popularity.

Heartwarming Stories and Shared Culture

Vi’s dedication to her work has fostered a sense of community among the volunteers. Through sharing knowledge and experiences, cultural differences have been embraced, bringing people closer together. The volunteers, eager to make a difference, leave the kitchen with a sense of fulfillment and return time and time again.

A Legacy of Compassion

When envisioning the future, Vi emphasizes the Cambridge Food Bank’s longstanding history and the commitment of its volunteers. Since her involvement in 1988, Vi’s family has played a vital role in supporting the organization. Looking ahead, she hopes that new volunteers will be welcomed with open arms, carrying forward the knowledge and passion for feeding those in need.


Vi’s journey at the Cambridge Food Bank exemplifies the power of resourcefulness, creativity, and compassion.  With each jar sold, the Cambridge Food Bank preserves continue to sustain participants, generate funds for programming, and remind us of the impact that a simple act of kindness can have on a community.

Little Chefs, Big Helpers: How Children in the Kitchen Make a Difference

The kitchen is not only a place of culinary delights but also a hub of family connections and treasured memories. Involving children in the kitchen can be an enriching experience that benefits the entire family. Today, we share a heartwarming story from a family who shares the benefits gained by participating in our child and youth programs with Vanessa, our Youth Action Coordinator. 

“Vanessa knows many of these stories as I make it a point to tell her how amazing her programs are. My favourite story was when I told my daughter that dinner was going to be late and she should have a snack. I had thought she would just go into her shack cupboard and get an applesauce or granola bar but, instead, she made little pizzas for the whole family. She had learned this technique from Vanessa at one of her events wherein she used English muffins for pizza crusts. The mini pizzas hit the spot with everyone and relieved the stress on me to get dinner on the table a.s.a.p..

Vanessa has also been sharing some of the meals passed down through her eastern European family. My mother had a Hungarian grandmother, and Vanessa’s recipe for chicken and dumplings has now become a family favourite. It brought back many memories from my mother’s childhood and replaced a long-lost recipe to our family.”

As we celebrate the culinary adventures of our youth cooking programs, we see their presence brings joy, creativity, and a fresh perspective to the table. By involving children in meal preparation, we nurture their independence, revive family traditions, and foster healthy habits. 

Our programs continue to support our mission of building health and belonging through food.

Cooking & Connecting with Chai and the Cambridge Food Bank

We live in a world that is increasingly isolated and disconnected. With the rise of social media and digital technology, it’s easy to forget the importance of human connection and the benefits that come with being part of a community. That’s why we want to take a moment to acknowledge the work that Chai is doing at the Cambridge Food Bank.

Chai runs an incredible program that not only helps people connect with each other but also teaches them how to make low-cost nutrient-dense snacks and meals.

Here are 5 reasons why engaging with others within your community through activities like cooking can be so beneficial:

  1. Community building: Activities like cooking with others can help you build relationships and connect with people in your community. This sense of connection and belonging is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being.

  2. Learning new skills: Participating in cooking activities can help you learn new skills and techniques, as well as gain knowledge about healthy eating and nutrition.

  3. Nutrition: Cooking with others can be a great way to prepare healthy, cost-effective meals as everyone can contribute their knowledge and experience. 

  4. Fun and enjoyable: Cooking with others can be a fun and enjoyable activity, especially when you are working together towards a common goal. It can help you feel more relaxed, engaged, and fulfilled.

  5. Improved mental health: Engaging in activities with others has been shown to improve mental health outcomes, such as reducing stress and increasing feelings of happiness and well-being.

Participant Creations

Participant Testimonials

We’ve heard great testimonials from the participants of the adult programming here at the Cambridge Food Bank. We encourage everyone to take advantage of opportunities to engage with others within their community, whether it’s through cooking or other activities.

Have questions or would like to register?  Contact Chai at 519-622-6550 ext 220 or cmaybhate@cambridgefoodbank.org

Our Mobile Food Market Provides Affordable Produce to Make Fresh Baby Food

Making your own baby food is easy, efficient, and economical. Instead of spending money on prepackaged baby food, you can use fresh produce, grains, and meat that you have on hand. Best of all, you’ll know exactly what you’re feeding your baby.

Going the do-it-yourself route also gets your baby used to eating the same food the rest of the family does.

Homemade baby food is also more nutritious and tastier than some store-bought food as it is made from fresh, whole foods and nothing else. 

Gena, one of our mobile food market customers enjoys visiting our weekly markets as she’s able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables to prepare her daughter’s baby food with. On December 6th, 2022, Gena shares

“Thanks for my haul today. Made applesauce for the baby and now roasted the squash, boiled the sweet potatoes and carrots to make baby food for the upcoming week.” Gena’s daughter is featured in the image.

Want to save money by creating your own baby food? Here are some easy-to-follow instructions and click here to see a list of our mobile food market locations.

Everyone can shop at our mobile food market and each week a selection of food will be available for a minimum, subsidized flat rate of $5. Our cost is $10 and those who can or wish to pay $10 or more can do so to support those who are living on a low income. The type and amount of food available at each pick-up will vary but there will be a minimum of 5 varieties of produce with 4 servings of each offered each week.

Thank you, Gena, for sharing your story. We hope you’ve inspired others to find affordable ways to create fresh baby food for their little ones.

Five great reasons kids should learn how to cook

As parents, raising a child who is a picky eater can be challenging especially if you’re trying to develop a healthy eating style.  What if it didn’t have to be difficult?  Google can show us many ways to avoid picky eaters, but reading doesn’t create results, actions do.

The Cambridge Food Bank believes that raising a child who genuinely enjoys eating nutritious food takes practice.  Our Wellness Hub features a weekly youth program run by Vanessa, to help support parents in the Cambridge and North Dumfries area to raise children who are nutritionally diverse in their eating styles. 

Here are Vanessa’s top five reasons kids should learn how to cook

  1. Kids build confidence and comfort in the kitchen
  2. Kids are more likely to try new foods prior to forming an opinion of them
  3. It expands their pallets to more nutrient-dense foods
  4. It increases their kitchen knowledge, safety, and terminology
  5. It creates a sense of pride

The youth program is disguised as fun for kids but contains many educational lessons.

Parents share their child’s 2022 program experiences

  1. “Ada has learned how to do many things in the kitchen. She now has the confidence to make the family breakfast.”
  2. “The Food Bank programs provided simple and healthy recipes that children loved to make. The reality is, if my child makes it, she’s going to eat it. So the inclusion of so many fruits and veggies has made her diet more diverse.”
  3. “Vanessa makes the classes so much fun plus they get to snack and try new foods while they cook. Also, the look of pure pride on her face when she makes a delicious meal for her family is priceless.”
  4. “My daughter loves the programs because she likes to eat, wants to know how to do more in the kitchen and because Vanessa is awesome!”
  5. “I have so many stories to share about our experiences with the Food Bank classes. It has made cooking time, family time. But my favorite story has to be where my daughter and her friend spoiled their dinner on veggies and a healthy yogurt dip they made with Vanessa. Let me say that again, they spoiled their dinner on veggies!!! Unheard of. As stated before, these classes are great and I tell all the other parents about it. My daughter’s friends are constantly asking to come over for the classes and quite a few of these recipes have become family favorites.”

Visit our website to learn more about the 2023 Wellness Hub, contact Vanessa at 519-622-6550 ext. 109 or vtoncic@cambridgefoodbank.org

**This cooking program is provided at no cost and all supplies are included.

Squash – Types, Benefits and Recipes

Fall is the season of squash. The produce section of any supermarket prominently displays various squashes – butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash to name a few.

Types of squashes

Squashes come in many varieties– from small zucchini to large pumpkins. They also have
a variety of colours, shades of yellow, green, and orange and are a delight to see. Commonly available squashes are butternut squash, acorn squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, Hubbard
squash, and Kabocha squash. Some other types are Delicata Squash, Carnival Squash, Gold Nugget
Squash, Buttercup Squash, Banana Squash, Autumn Cup Squash, Ambercup Squash, Sweet Dumpling Squash and Turban Squash.

Health Benefits of Squash

Squash is nutrient-rich and mainly contains vitamins A and C. It provides numerous health benefits,
some of which are listed below

  1. Good for Heart Health: Squash contains magnesium which helps to reduce the risk of heart
    attack and stroke. Magnesium along with potassium helps in reducing high blood pressure.
    Vitamin C and beta-carotene levels help in preventing the oxidation of cholesterol.
  2. Prevents Cancer: The high content of antioxidants in squash helps in eliminating free radicals
    from our bodies. The beta-carotene in squash provides protection from pollutants and
    chemicals that can lead to cancer. Squash contains Vitamin C that prevents premature aging and
    cancer. It also inhibits cell division. Squash also contains vitamin A which provides protection
    against lung and oral cavity cancers.
  3. Healthy Bones: Squash contains loads of manganese and vitamin C. Manganese helps in building
    bone structure and increases calcium absorption. Vitamin C is involved in the production of Collagen which is important for building bone mass.
  4. Good for Eyes: The dietary lutein in squash plays an important role in preventing the onset of
    cataracts and macular degeneration.
  5. Improves Colon Health: The high amount of fibers in squash helps in taking toxins out of our
  6. Diabetes: Squash has a low glycemic index and is helpful in stabilizing sugar levels. Certain squash
    varieties like pumpkin contain a polysaccharide known as pectin. Pectin helps in regulating blood
    sugar levels thus preventing the risk of Type2 diabetes.
  7. Rich source of Carotenoids: squashes contain a high level of carotenoids, mainly beta-carotene,
    lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. These carotenoids help in the prevention and treatment of age-
    related macular degeneration, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Squash Recipes to Try