Jandyl Doak now has the kitchen of her dreams, though it isn’t actually hers.
Doak is the nutrition education coordinator for Second Harvest food bank where a new $425,000 kitchen complex was recently opened to expand the organization’s nutritional outreach.
The Kitchen at Second Harvest, which was made possible by donors to the nonprofit, is a combination of a teaching and commercial kitchen.
It will make it possible to conduct cooking classes and to prepare sample meals to show food bank clients and others how to make the most out of simple, nutritious ingredients, especially the ones that are coming into Second Harvest for distribution.
Doak said she loves cooking, and having the new kitchen, “It’s like playing on the best swingset you could have.”
The state-of-the-art kitchen has portable cook stations for classes. It has gleaming new surfaces that look good enough to be on television, and staff at Second Harvest hope to develop video programs in the future.
The commercial kitchen features a tilt-up skillet service that can move food from the heat to containers easily and make cleaning more efficient.
There are two convection ovens, kettle, gas range and a commercial dishwasher that can complete a load in two to three minutes.
The kitchen was built into a former repackaging and storage space at the rear of the Second Harvest complex at 1234 E. Front Ave.
“Everything is on rollers so we can clean behind it easily,” Doak said.
Doak brings with her 45 years of experience in the food industry, including 17 years as general manager at Clinkerdagger restaurant.
Julie Humphreys, donor relations manager at Second Harvest, said the kitchen and teaching facility is one of only a handful nationwide, putting Second Harvest at the forefront of nutrition education and outreach.
Second Harvest distributed 25 million pounds of food in 2014 to 250 outlets in 26 counties in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
Earlier this year, Doak hosted a group of 20 children from the Northeast Youth Center to show them some simple ways to feed themselves.
Other classes involve working with the people who run the neighborhood Food Bank outlets and other community organizations, including WSU Extension’s food sense program.
Classes will be available to the general public, including some that will charge modest fees to recoup costs.
The kitchen plans to teach food preservation, scratch cooking, baking, baby food making and lifestyle improvements among other topics. It could also include a supper club.
Training efforts will focus on creating community nutrition ambassadors and working with nutrition educators, expectant mothers and youth.
Doak has developed a series of recipes such as a vegetarian lentil chili that uses typical food bank ingredients and costs no more than 50 cents a serving. Her lentil cookies have been a hit with food bank outlet volunteers, she said.
On Monday, Doak tested a recipe for minestrone that incorporated carrots, celery, onion, beans, canned tomatoes and oregano – again at cost of about 50 cents a serving.
An upcoming class will teach a tuna fish and noodle recipe using mushroom soup.
Drew Meuer, director of the new kitchen program, explained that nutrition and cooking education can help bridge the gap between delivering food bank goods to people and getting them cooked and onto tables in clients’ homes.
“There are these foods that people don’t know how to prepare,” Meuer said. “People will refuse (some types of) food because they don’t know what to do with it.”
He said the kitchen programs will work to counter people’s tendencies to make bad food choices, which can lead to health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
While one in six Americans gets food from the food bank nationally, Meuer said “we are dealing with a significant part of the population that has diet-related disease.”
That’s where nutrition education comes in. “If you teach them what to do with it, now they’ve got a skill that’s portable,” Meuer said. “It’s a life skill.”