Tyler Parkhurst is the Nutrition Services Supervisor at Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft.
It is a duty to give back and contribute to your community. We all have unique abilities, perspectives and opportunities to strengthen those around us when we choose to give our time. Working with the Piscataquis Regional Food Cupboard (PRFC for those in the know), has been one of the ways I have been able to do this.
The PRFC’s monthly Spice Drive program spotlights an herb or spice that is an alternative to salt as an addition to your meal, providing a more healthful way to add flavor to your cooking and avoiding added salt which is problematic for so many. Through a hands-on class that occurs once per month, we have been able to bring this program directly to a population in the community that is able to benefit. The “Rising Stars” are a group of individuals learning cooking skills and healthy eating tips by engaging in these monthly classes due to our collaboration with the Charlotte White Center. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and it has been rewarding to see their knowledge base expand. It is not an exaggeration to say they have taught me a thing or two as well. Having featured spices/herbs both familiar and unfamiliar to the group, we have utilized affordable and local-when-possible ingredients to make recipes that the participants will feel comfortable making for themselves.
One of the biggest health challenges facing any rural community is the availability of healthy, fresh food. Moreover, the ability of the population to access this food due to transportation, income and mobility concerns. The PRFC has set forth to combat this at the grassroots level, reaching out directly to members of the community that they serve via the Food Cupboard distributions, cooking classes like the Rising Stars, and so much more. The Spice Drive provides an opportunity for those that utilize any of PRFC’s services to be exposed to new ingredients and new ways of thinking about the food they eat and give to their families. It is a program that I am pleased to have a role in and a program that I believe makes the community I work in a better place.