Asay wants to give food insecure more tools

Cookbook planned for those who frequent area food pantry


FORT MADISON – It’s special when youth give of their time to help others.

A Fort Madison girl wants to take that a step further and parlay her time working at the Fort Madison food pantry into becoming a publisher.

And her works, which will be given away for free, will help those who need food assistance learn how to best utilize the food they are getting.

Abrie Asay, of Fort Madison, is asking for help in preparing a cookbook for those with food insecurity.

Asay spends four or five hours a week at the Fort Madison Food Pantry and used to work for the food pantry in her former hometown in Minnesota.

The home-schooled student started working on the project several months ago.

“I have a lot of experience under my belt in that area,” said the 16-year-old of working at food pantries.

“I want to help people who need food, learn how to do more with that food. How to make a cake mix if you don’t have an oven, or what to do with black beans, or make a pot of chili.”

Asay is looking for recipes from locals to build a manuscript that can be handed out at the local food pantry. But she also wants to share the cookbook with other food pantries so more people can best use the food that they receive.

Asay said her upbringing showed her how to make the most out of what was in the cupboard and refrigerator.

“My mom is an amazing cook and she could come up with amazing meals with whatever was in the house. That kind of inspired me to do this for others. But I’d also like ideas from other people,” she said.

People with recipe ideas that include common food pantry items can either drop them off at the Fort Madison Food Pantry; mail to 3402 Avenue L, Fort Madison IA 52627; or email information to Information should include the name and address of the person submitting the recipe and, optionally, the author of the recipe.

Asay is also asking for donations to offset the costs of printing. She said getting the books professionally bound would cost about $2,500, but she could do it herself for $800. She’d rather put a professional touch on it and then offer the manuscript for free for others to produce for their food pantries.

Donations can be made at the same contact information or a Venmo to @Bar-Asay.

Asay said she’s been thinking about doing a cookbook for sometime, but a scholarship opportunity through the Herbert Hoover scholarship for Iowa juniors came up and she applied for it.

“I got my plan figured out and now I’m trying to get it going,” she said.

Common items at food pantries include soups, canned vegetables, peanut butter, cereals, potatoes, bread, eggs, and venison.

Asay said most people don’t realize how flexible venison is as a protein.

“I feel like if we’re going to put all this effort into giving people food to cook good meals, they should be able to use it effectively to make a wide variety of meals,” she said. “We get questions like that all the time.

“We get tons of venison but people don’t know how to cook it. They don’t know it’s pretty much like beef, and you can use it in tacos or chili or many other things,” she said.

“I want people to have a good variety of meals to make even though they are limited on food varieties and equipment.”

Asay hopes to have the books completed and ready for distribution with the Food Pantry's Christmas baskets, so she’ll collect recipes for the next two months before putting the manuscript together. Then she wants to start printing 300 copies and go from there.

Fort Madison, Abrie Asay, youth, cookbook, food pantry, food insecurity, Pen City Current, feature, news, donations, recipes


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