Hundreds of Meals on Wheels clients in the Cedar Rapids area will be getting a special treat delivered today, as part of Local Foods Day.
Laura Nass, with Americorps-Vista, says the lunches the 800 elderly and homebound residents will receive from Horizons volunteers will be filled with healthy, delicious, all-Iowa products.
“Our plan is to do a few more of these days throughout the summer where the entire meal is locally-sourced, and by entire meal, I mean down to the flour that’s used in the fresh pasta that we’re making,” Nass says. “The wheat was grown and milled in western Iowa.”
A small garden was started last year across the street from the Horizons building in Cedar Rapids headquarters and the fresh vegetables were harvested, prepared and included in the Meals on Wheels menus, when possible.
“As our garden space expands, our hope is to use some of our own fruits and vegetables in meals every day,” Nass says. “We’re starting out with this one big day where everything is locally-sourced and eventually our hope is to have 80% of the produce locally-sourced, either from our own gardens or from local farmers.”
In addition to the pasta dish and locally-baked garlic bread, there will be a salad with fresh organic lettuce and house-made balsamic vinaigrette dressing. “Rolling Hills (in West Union) is providing fresh basil for the pasta,” Nass says.
“Ecko Gardens has provided some peppers for us, they’re located up in West Union. East View Orchard (in Fredericksburg) has some wonderful looking asparagus for us that’ll be included in the pasta dish.” For dessert, it’s strawberries from Independence and yogurt from a dairy in the town of Hawkeye.
In all, a dozen local farmers and vendors are taking part in the one-day effort. The Cedar Rapids-based Horizons provides a variety of services across east-central Iowa including consumer credit counseling services, mental health counseling and family outreach programs.
Horizons also has offices in Anamosa, Dubuque, Maquoketa, Monticello and Vinton. www.horizonsfamily.org