USask research helps tackle food insecurity through donation of soup mix to food banks

In a joint effort to address the pressing issue of food insecurity in Saskatchewan, over 15,000 Farm2Kitchen soup mix packages have been distributed in food hampers by the Regina Food Bank and the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre.

The announcement comes after a collaborative effort between the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources, the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc. (Food Centre), the Regina Food Bank and the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre.

Led by USask researcher Dr. Michael Nickerson, the Farm2Kitchen soup mix results from a partnership with the Food Centre, aiming to create an affordable, easy-to-make, and nourishing soup using locally grown crops in Saskatchewan.

Dr. Nickerson, also the acting head of the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, initiated the research project funded by GIFS.

The project’s goal was to produce therapeutic food products primarily from pulses and
cereals, responding to moderate to acute malnutrition within high-risk communities.

Initially focused on developing food aid products for use in Ethiopia, the researchers investigated the protein quality of pulse and cereal crops and optimal blending ratios to maximize nutritional benefits. The project resulted in fortified cereal-based and lipid-based supplements addressing the dietary needs of children.

Expanding the project’s health benefits to Saskatchewan, Dr. Nickerson partnered with the Food Centre and local food banks to introduce the Farm2Kitchen soup, benefiting needy families.

“Saskatchewan is known for its rich agricultural resources and for producing high-quality crops to feed the world and for coming together to support our communities. Food security is a worldwide issue, and there are families in Canada and in Saskatchewan that face significant challenges to putting food on the table,” Nickerson said.

Food Banks Canada highlights the rising food bank usage across the country due to increased food and housing costs, high inflation, and low social assistance rates.

The Regina Food Bank notes that one in five Saskatchewan children faces food insecurity. The soup mix product aims to help food banks manage costs and feed more families, utilizing cereals and pulses grown within the province.

“In proud Prairie tradition, we take care of our neighbours. At a time of record food insecurity, we need innovation, collaboration, and our agriculture and food sector,” said David Froh, the vice president of the Regina Food Bank. “We are grateful for our partners and excited to expand the program across the country so that more families can benefit from the most powerful form of nourishment, care.”

Nickerson adds that he hopes to expand the product to meet demand across Saskatchewan and Canada.

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