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I got my Christmas Food Box! What can I make with it?


The South Plains Food Bank is passing out over 4,500 food boxes this holiday season! What can recipients plan on making with the food inside? Our Nutrition team put together this blog to help you find out!

These Christmas boxes are very special and have a variety of food in them. Some of the items in the box require a little bit more creativity to make a meal out of them. It is very do-able and here are some great food ideas for the items in the boxes:


Christmas Box Recipes


1. Spaghetti. An easy meal that is already provided is spaghetti, very simple! Add 1 lb. of cooked ground beef.




2. Beef Vegetable Soup. A can of vegetable soup may be provided. Simply adding a half pound of ground beef can make this an easy, delectable dish!

beef stew



3. Campbell's Chili and Rice. Follow these easy steps for this easy recipe!




  • 3/4 pound 85% lean ground beef

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Condensed Tomato Soup

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup long grain white rice, prepared according to package directions without salt (about 3 cups)



  • Cook the beef, onion and chili powder in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the beef is well browned, stirring often. Pour off any fat.

  • Stir the soup, water, vinegar and beans in the skillet and heat to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 10 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.  Serve the beef mixture over the rice.

4. Vegetable Medley. Sautee the green beans and carrots in butter and garlic to make this yummy recipe.


green beans

5. Fruit Ambrosia. This recipe will be easy to make with the canned fruit included in the food box!



  • 1 can (8-1/4 ounces) fruit cocktail, drained

  • Peaches

  • 1 cup green grapes

  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows

  • 1 medium banana, sliced

  • 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt



  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and chill.

6. No Bake Peanut Butter Corn Flakes Cookies

no bake cookies


  • 6 cups corn flakes

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup light corn syrup

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter


  • Place corn flakes in a large bowl; set aside.

  • Combine sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Immediately remove from heat; add peanut butter, stirring to combine.

  • Pour peanut butter mixture over corn flakes, and toss gently to combine, being careful not the crush the corn flakes.

  • Quickly drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Allow cookies to stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes or until set. Store in an airtight container.


7. Rice Crispies Treats

rice treats


  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 package (10 oz.) marshmallows

  • 6 cups of rice crispy cereal


  • In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

  • Add rice crispy cereal and stir until well coated.

  • Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

3 Easy and Healthy Sides for Your Thanksgiving Table!


This time of the season there are so many great tasting foods to try and our diets tend to have a lot more calories and fat. It’s very easy to not worry about what we eat at Thanksgiving. If we took a moment to think about our health and how the foods we eat could hurt us, we probably would not eat them!

Usually, foods at the Thanksgiving table have a lot of fat, salt, and calories. On average, an American gains 5-10 pounds around the holidays, but this could be avoided if we make healthier sides for our Thanksgiving table. developed some Thanksgiving side recipes and variations to classic dishes that are both healthy for your budget and for you! The recipes and tips also provide an opportunity for you to exercise some of the information you learned from last week's blog: nutrition labels! (Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out the last blog post!) Make it a goal this Thanksgiving to add more fruits and vegetables as sides and look at these great recipes to see how! 


1. Food Makeover: Mashed Potatoes

Healthy mashed potatoes

Utilize these healthy tips to make your next batch of mashed potatoes some of the healthiest you've ever indulged in! Tip: Start with just one change. Your family probably won't notice a difference in anything but their waistline! Then, slowly start to incorporate the other changes.


  • Use half the amount of butter called for in the recipe. Yes, half! Don't worry, see the thrid bullet for ways to kick the flavor back up.

  • Try nonfat or low-fat milk, buttermilk, or yogurt in place of cream or whole milk. Or, start by going down just one fat-level at a time (e.g. whole milk to 2% milk, then 2% to 1%).

  • Add fresh or dried herbs, such as chives or parsley, to take the flavor up a notch!



2. Holiday Roasted Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is so good!Check out the nutrition info for the butternut squash recipe!

Serving Size        

Serves 6, 3/4 cup per serving


  • 2 pounds butternut squash
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or canola oil
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons maple syrup


  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Baking sheet
  • Small skillet
  • Spoon
  • Peeler 


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Rinse and peel squash. Cut off ends and discard. Cut squash at the neck, creating a narrow end and a round end. Cut round end in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut both ends into ¾-inch, even-sized cubes.

3. Coarsely chop walnuts. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, add squash. Toss with oil, sage, salt and ground black pepper.

5. Spread squash evenly on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, until tender, about 35 minutes.

6. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter or heat oil. Add walnuts and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cranberries and maple syrup.

7. Gently toss cooked squash with cranberry mixture.



3. Cranberry Walnut Coleslaw

CranberryWalnutSlaw Check out the nutrition facts for the Cranberry Coleslaw









Serving Size

Serves 10, ¾ cup per serving


  • 1 (1-pound) head cabbage
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries


  • Box grater
  • Cutting board
  • Fork
  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  1. Rinse cabbage and carrots. Thinly slice cabbage. Peel and grate carrots. 

  2. Chop walnuts.

  3. In a large bowl, use a fork to whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, celery seed, and salt. Add cabbage, carrots, walnuts, and cranberries. Toss to mix well.

Utilizing these tips and recipes will be help you have a Thanksgiving that's healthy for you and your family!

Reading a Food Label is More Important Than You Think. Here's Why.


We have all heard it at least once in our lives: "Make sure to turn over your food to read that food label before buying it!" But, do we really know why? So many times we absently throw items in our carts, thinking, “It hasn’t hurt me yet, so what’s the harm?”

Stop there. It is VERY important for you to know what is going in your body. You only have one body, and only one chance to take care of it. No pressure!

Today, we are going to teach you how to read nutrition labels so you won't have anxiety when you flip that food around to that white label! For more in-depth instruction on how to read a nutrition label, please click here for more information. On a side note, this is a general overview, so if you have diabetes or heart issues, please talk to your dietitian about your diet! Now, let’s get started! 

Sample Label for Macaroni and Cheese


I love this breakdown because it is very easy to read without being too intimidating. This is how all nutrition labels are set up.

So, you’ll start from the top and read your way down to the footnotes. I know it’s tempting to just check the calorie amount, but not check the serving size or nutrients, but read each line individually! Let’s take this food for example. If you eat the whole box, (let’s assume it’s a box version of mac and cheese) you are consuming 500 calories, NOT 250. How did I get this number? Check the serving size and the amount of servings per box. 1 cup = 1 serving size and each box has about 2 servings.  Since we said you are eating the whole box, we multiply the calories times 2, so 250 X 2 = 500. Tricky, right? This is why it’s so important to read the label. Here is a general guide of what to look for when reading the calorie amount based on a 2,000 calorie diet.


General Guide to Calories

40 calories is low
100 calories is moderate
400 calories or more is high  

Heart of fruits and vegetables 

If you have any chronic diseases such asdiabetes or heart issues, you should consult your dietitian on what you need to look out for.

Before we dive in, I just want to say that it is sooooo important to get nutrients from our foods! So, when you want a little snack, make sure you are reaching for a fruit or veggie. Try choosing foods that are packed with nutrients. Think of it this way, your body needs nutrients like gas needs a car. If you are putting bad gas into your car, it will get damaged and you’ll begin to have some issues with it. If you give your car good gas, then it will run smoothly with little to no issues. Same with nutrients, make sure you’re getting enough every day!

What exactly are nutrients you ask??  I know what you’re thinking, “You’re saying I need it, and I hear that we need them, but what ARE they?” Great question! Basically, nutrients are things in food that allow our body to survive. That being said, there are nutrients that you want and nutrients you don’t want, you just have to know what to look for. 


Limit these nutrients. Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, or sodium may increase your risk of certain chronic diseases, like heart disease, some cancers, or high blood pressure.

we need to avoid these nutrients


Get enough of these nutrients. Most Americans don't get enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron in their diets.

We need specific nutrients to be healthy.


Eating enough of these nutrients can improve your health and help reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions such as heart disease. If you watch the amount of fat you eat, you can decrease your risk of getting chronic disease!

Reading the nutrition labels on the food you buy doesn't have to be intimidating. If you know what to look for, it can be easy to live a healthy life!


Stay In & Play! Easy Indoor Physical Activities for Children!


stay healthy and be active!


Even though it is starting to get cold outside, children still need to have physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day! It may be easy to let them watch TV or play video games, but it is important that they are still active and burning off extra energy. Indoor activities can be just as fun and creative as playing outdoors!  To make it easy, below are ideas for indoor activities and a link for activities for you and your child to enjoy.

Remember these important facts: the intensity of the activity needs to be moderate to intense within those 60 minutes. Moderate meaning you can feel you heart beating slightly faster, like brisk walking. Intense exercise meaning that you can feel you heart beating very rapidly! Children should be doing muscle strengthening (like climbing) and bone strengthening (like jumping) at least 3 days a week. If you have children that are younger (2-5 years old) they should be actively playing several times a day. Physical activities for young children should be developmentally appropriate, fun, and offer variety.


Here is a list of 10 fun physical exercise games and fun indoor activities to get you moving:

1. Headstands

These are great for your core muscles and gets blood going to the brain. If your child can’t do this, then this is a great opportunity for you to help them!

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2. Jump Rope

If you have downstairs neighbors, try going in the hall or right outside your building. To make it more fun, pick up a book of jump-rope rhymes.


3. Balloon Ball

There are endless ways to play with balloons indoors. Try to keep it off the ground or just play catch!

play a fun game of balloon ball!

4. Animal Races

Whether you hop like a bunny or frog, or squat and waddle like a duck, the possibilities with this fun activity are endless! Make a race out of it by seeing who can get to the finish line the fastest! Join the fun by racing with your kids.


5. Obstacle Course

Create a furniture course in your home or take chalk and make a course outside.

Navigate an awesome obstacle course!

6. Dance Party

Turn on the music and shake your "groove thang!"

Have some fun dance time!

7. Scavenger Hunt

Write up clues and hide them around the apartment. Kids can race to find each clue for a small prize at the end.

A scavenger hunt is so much fun!

8. Silly Shakes

Play an old song and shake your sillies out. If you do it long enough, you'll probably end up in a pile of giggles!

Get the silly shakes!

9. Clean-Up Race

Set a timer or put on a song and see who can clean the room the fastest!

Clean up the house in 8 minutes!

10. Hopscotch

Use chalk or tape to make a game on your floor or outside your building. The whole family can get together and play!

hopscotching is so much fun!

After the activity, remember to provide a healthy and nutritious meal or snack! This will help keep muscles and bones strong. Here are some healthy snack options that your child will love:

  • Apple with Peanut Butter
  • Glass of Milk with Crackers
  • Carrots, Celery & Dip
  • Cheese and Fruit (strawberries, melon, etc.)
  • Juice and trail mix

Remember, healthy snacks are very important to a child's diet. Good snacks provide vitamins, nutrients, and fiber to keep growth on track! Stay away from snacks that are high in calories and fat because these will ruin all the activity that has been done.

Want more ideas for fun kid's activities? Check out: 

Keep your kids active while staying warm and being healthy!


Have Yourself A Healthy Halloween!


Each year it seems as if the holidays get pushed closer and closer towards summer and we have no time to prepare ourselves for the sugary-sweets and baked goodies that go with the fall Holidays. I mean, Halloween candy and costumes have been available in stores since early September! It’s pretty hard going to the store and Halloween candy just sits and stares at you for almost two months straight, am I right? Anyways, it is definitely true that Halloween brings many different thoughts to our heads whenever we think of it. Most parents think to themselves, “Oh no our kids are going to get cavities for sure this year! We are in for it!” While kids are thinking, “ I can’t wait to get as much candy as I can before the sun sets. And I really can’t wait to trade my friends for my favorite candies!” While many kids don’t know better, adult and parents need to make sure they learn some healthier ways for them and their families to stay healthy this holiday season, starting with Halloween that’s right around the corner.  Most of us love Halloween candy, caramel apples, and candy corn, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy this time of the season without them.  Here are a couple of tips to make sure you survive this Halloween!


Fruit is the New Halloween Candy: First things first, don’t go down the candy aisle until the week of Halloween.  As fun as it is, don’t do it! If you do, you are more tempted to buy it early and will probably finish the bag before the trick-or-treaters come (EEK). There are plenty of other fun Halloween snacks that you can incorporate fruits and veggies into! Here are a couple of fun recipes to check out to make your Halloween a healthy one!


Please click on the pictures for links to the recipes!!

    1. Jack-O-Lantern Orange Fruit Cups!

    Instead of just carving pumpkins, try carving orange peels and then loading it up with your favorite fruits. This is such a fun and healthy snack. It’s also not messy like carving pumpkins can be!

    Check out these awesome Jack-o-lantern Fruit Cups!


    2. The Spooky Vegetable Skeleton! 

    "The Kitchn" has an awesome skeleton that kids (and adults) can snack on with their favorite low-fat dip. You can use any vegetable you like with this snack!

    This Veggie Skeleton is spooky!


    3. This Frankenstein cup is fun and easy to make!

    You can do this with green or red grapes, jumbo or mini marshmallows, and sharpies or washable markers for the faces!

    Frankenstein Cups are amazing!


    4. Ahhh, the beloved caramel apples.

    Caramel is a dark-brown confectionery product made by heating any of a variety sugars, aka it is fullllll of sugar! You don’t ever want you or your kids eating straight sugar. This Caramel Apple Yogurt Dip is made using pure sugar sources and non-fat yogurt and is the perfect alternative to caramel apples. This is very kid friendly and makes a lot of leftover healthy caramel that you could put on popcorn or anything else that you enjoy caramel with.

    Caramel Apples are delicious! 


    5. And finally, everyone’s favorite: candy corn.

    Candy corn is made primarily from sugar, corn syrup, and artificial coloring. These three ingredients alone tell you that you need to stay far, far, away from this candy. If you do happen to find yourself with a handful of candy corn and a grin on your face, make sure you eat very small amounts of this at a time. Also make sure you drink a lot of water after to make sure the sugar is flushing out of your body. Water also helps wash all that extra sugar off of your teeth and keep them nice and white!

    Trick your kids with this healthy candy corn snack! 

    Trick your kids with this yummy Candy Corn Treat

    Layer canned or fresh pineapple, then oranges or mandarin oranges, and light whipped cream and a candy corn on top! Youcould also try this treat with vegetables. You could do yellow peppers, squash or corn as the yellow base, then orange peppers or carrots and then light ranch on top. Experiment with whatever fruits and vegetables you have!



    With these fun and easy treats, you can be sure to not only have a healthy Halloween, but a cavity-free one! 




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    This is Alfred. He is a valiant veteran, and he needed our help.


    Today, our Director of Development met a man named Alfred. Alfred is 61 years old. He is a valiant veteran of Vietnam. He is a grandfather.  He is a simple man with a simple life. He was always able to take care of himself on his Veteran’s disability, allotted to him because of the PTSD and depression he suffered after coming back from Vietnam. He has spinal injuries, which still bother him at times, but he makes due. His simple needs have always allowed him to live a life in which he could support himself, that is, until now.


    About a week and a half ago, with a heart full of good intentions because of a family situation, Alfred opened up his home to his 14 year-old grandson. It had been a long time since Alfred had cared for anyone other than himself, and he didn’t realize the amount of added responsibility he would be taking on. Quite frankly, he didn’t think twice about it. He loves his grandson, and when the situation came up, Alfred didn’t weigh out the pros and cons, or think about what a change this would make in his life. He operated how anyone in a loving family would, he simply took him in. If ends didn’t meet, Alfred was going to do what he could to make sure he could take care of himself and his grandson, and that’s how he wound up at the Food Bank. 

    veteran and food assistance

    So here he was, on our dock, under the brim of a distinct Veteran’s hat boasting the war in which he fought, telling us his story. He has been a Texan for about a month after leaving the state of Tennessee. He has a grandson, and not enough money to make ends meet right now because of the move. Most of the money he had for this month went to getting his grandson to Texas, and he wasn’t sure how else they would get food. When he found out about the South Plains Food Bank and the food he could have access to, he was relieved. I truly believe he left our dock walking a little taller, released of one more weight his steady shoulders have to bear.

    veteran and food assistance


    His next move is to focus on building a new life with his grandson. He is driven by his desire for him to have a happy life, and he is figuring out a new way to live and make ends meet. He is motivated by the smile he hopes to see on his grandson’s face when he is able to afford the puppy he so tenderly asked for, though the fear of adding another mouth to feed slightly deters him. Despite the long list of answers not outlined before him as he embarks on this new chapter of life, our friend Alfred is determined to be there for his grandson in a way that parallels the responsibility he chose to bear to defend our country in a time of war.

    We salute you Alfred. We will be there to help walk you through your time of need as you get back on your feet and strive to fulfill our promise to give hope, end hunger, and enrich the lives of people just like you.

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    The South Plains Food Bank Farm does what?!?


    This was the question I loudly exclaimed upon finding out about the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) shares our farm offers to the community.

    As the newly-hired Communications and Digital Marketing manager, there was a lot I was still learning about the South Plains Food Bank, and let's face it, I was still a little "green". There were so many (amazing) programs I was still learning about and the idea of a farm to help the hungry left me speechless. (I wish you could have seen my expression when I found out we have a farm!) The city girl in me was a little overwhelmed, but once I found out the address, I decided to make the trek over there to see what it was all about. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

    I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I can tell you it wasn't what I thought. As I walked up to the sweet smell of saturated soil, and lovely herbs, the last thing I was expecting were the amount of youth that filled the farm around me. There was a group on the patio, and in the field; in the building and walking around. There were so many! I walked up to a group sitting in chairs surrounding a barrel of zucchini and observed them. They seemed so happy to be outside, laughing and bagging zucchini. "What are those for?" I asked. "They're for the CSA's," a dark haired girl with glasses piped up without missing the rhythmic beat of her work. "The CSA's?" I asked. And then my world opened up.

    I hadn’t heard of an organization that literally utilized every thinkable way to make an impact in the lives of the hungry in our community. We have an orchard to grow apples to give to the hungry, and we have a farm run by at-risk youth who participate in the GRUB (Growing Recruits for Urban Business) program. This program takes at-risk kids and leads them on the journey to plant, grow, harvest, create and donate their vegetables at the farm. Half of what is grown at the farm goes right into food boxes to feed the hungry, and the other half is collected for CSA shares. The food from the farm is: grown using organic inputs, grown locally, vine ripened, and you know who is growing it! As soon as I found out I could afford fresh, weekly produce grown by kids who were actively trying to pursue and grow on the right track, the only question I asked was, “Where do I sign?” One week later, I had my first CSA and a great co-worker (Melissa Henderson, Director of Development) to help me cook it!


    Loaded with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, corn, beans, carrots, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, oh my! When the overambitious thought of needing to eat everything tonight simmered down, I sat down and earnestly thought about what to do with my treasure. This is what came of my adventure!

    The first course we thought up was a simple tomato and cucumber salad. Lightly tossed in olive oil and sea salt, this was fantastic, and so healthy. I never knew cucumbers grew as big as the ones I received from the farm!

    10536488 10204276247572739 556871968 n10555043 10204276247492737 28763564 n

    The second course utilized the squash and the corn that overwhelmed our CSA. Melissa had a great stuffed summer squash recipe that was sure to be amazing! We halved our squash, carved it out and stuffed it with herbs, Ritz crackers, and corn. We drizzled some cheese over it and threw it in the oven, and Voila!

    10555172 10204276247532738 289690641 n

    Our final course was a no-brainer. With onions, carrots, garlic, and zucchini we figured a roast was definitely needed to offset our veggiebonanza. We topped it with herbs and a little bit of a red wine label that makes a contribution to the food bank network with every purchase, and we had a dinner that was good for us and helped the cause!

    10545012 10204276247612740 1197138016 n

    Whether it was the CSA vegetables, or our hard work, I can say dinner that night was the best I ever had. There was just something more than spices and flavor in the food I was savoring: It was knowing that the food I received was helping and touching so many people all the way around.

    Bon Appetit!

    For more information about our CSA shares, contact Maxine Asmah at:

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    Building a Hunger-Free Community


    It's Possible!

    Thanks to a significant grant from the J.T. and Margaret Talkington Foundation, the South Plains Food Bank is building a new facility. Join us Tuesday, April 29th as we Break Ground and dream of a hunger-free future.

    Ground Breaking Invite final

    Bike4Grub (a sneak preview)

    Susan Tomlinson, a writer and teacher at Texas Tech University is a bicyclist and gardener.  She's working with the South Plains Food Bank to Bike4Grub raising funds for our youth garden program, GRUB, or Growing Recruits for Urban Business. 
    Join us for this year's event and learn more on Susan's blog,
    You may remember that a few years ago I rode 2011 miles for the South Plains Food Bank, and in the process raised over $5000 for their GRUB farm. It started as a motivator for me to get into shape, but it turned into something a lot more meaningful along the way.... (Continue reading at
    Bike 4 Grub Poster

    Tuba Players Catch Earns Food Bank Donation and Laughs


    This letter recently landed on my desk and I couldn’t help but share.  Visualizing this scenario just makes me giggle!  Thank you Jerry and Jeanie Koch for sharing your story and for the $100 donation!  

    Hi Lyn,

    The enclosed is sort of the result of a challenge I issued in my freshman sociology class.  There are several members of the Goin’ Band in the class and I’m a big fan.

    At the games, the band sits in the South end-zone and the tuba players are in the top row.  That is close to where the football winds up after extra-point kicks.

    So I thought it would be funny if one of the tuba players actually caught the kicked football IN THEIR TUBA.

     So I issued the challenge.  I told the band members in my class to tell the tuba players that I would give $100 to the Food Bank if they ever did this.  And last Saturday at the Oklahoma State game, one of them did.

    So here’s $100.  I’m paying up.

    All the best,

    Jerry and Jeanie Koch


    Goin' Band

    We love the Goin' Band.  They made a huge presence at this year's Wreck Hunger Food Drive and we were so impressed with their enthusiasm to raise donations by playing music live for passer-bys... Now that we know the tuba players can catch footballs in thier horns we're even more impressed.


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