Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, you could find Paddy and Elisa, both Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables Nutritionists, visiting Mobile Food Pantries and partner pantries demonstrating healthy recipes and sharing tips and tricks.
The Just Say Yes program is focused on providing nutrition education for low-income New Yorkers and those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
“While logistics could be hard, as far as making sure you had the right supplies and equipment, I really miss the people and getting to know everyone,” says Elisa.
In March, the pair temporarily supported the registration in the Community Food Distributions, as many Food Bankers’ roles transformed as operations changes in response to the pandemic surge.
“While taking calls, I learned how vast the need was in our community. I learned how incredibly powerful our work is, especially now,” said Paddy.
By April, Paddy and Elisa looked for new ways to continue to educate our local community on nutrition, cooking healthy alternatives and easy-to-use recipes. One idea stuck – social media.
While both worked from home, they started doing weekly Facebook Live video-streams and sharing tips and tricks for seasonal food items, or products that the Food Bank was distributing to agencies or at Community Food Distributions.
“While there was a little bit of a learning curve, and it is not the same as teaching in person, we have welcomed viewers into our homes. They can see (or not see) what it is like to prepare a meal with family buzzing around and that we, like many of our clients, have life happening all around us,” said Elisa.
Since April, Paddy and Elisa have provided more than 55 cooking classes through Facebook Live, but these classes are also available on YouTube.
The videos allow viewers to interact in real-time and have collectively received more than 1,870 views.
“The best part is that these videos can be re-used,” shared Paddy. When asked what they hope for in 2021, she shared, “We hope that we will ultimately be able to offer more in-person workshop as things become safer. However, until then, we will be hosting workshops via Zoom where attendees can interact and ask questions and we will continue to offer Facebook Live classes.”
To see the upcoming classes or to watch Paddy and Elisa in action, visit the Food Bank’s Facebook page.