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Middlesex County provides way to create distinct dishes from ingredients available at food pantries

Middlesex County has introduced the Share Your Foodways program, a way to create delicious, culturally distinct dishes from ingredients available at the local food pantry.

This program combines the efforts of MCFOODS (Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services), with the Arts Institute of Middlesex County, to give back to the community in a fun and inventive way, according to information provided by the Middlesex County Office of Communication. Local chefs have contributed to this program by hosting virtual cooking demonstrations highlighting foods and ingredients that hold personal meaning. This is why the program uses the term “foodways”, which literally refers to the ways in which people use food within a cultural, historical and social context, according to the statement.

“This project has three goals,” Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios said in the statement. “First and foremost, to help reduce food insecurity during the pandemic; to celebrate the culinary traditions of county residents; and to destigmatize the use of food pantries. MCFOODS and the Arts Institute are proud to collaborate with local chefs and home cooks in sharing these recipes and their personal foodways.”

Each online cooking workshop will highlight a local organization directly working to meet community needs.

Thanks to coordinated efforts by MCFOODS, in cooperation with local culinary expert Chef Sank, the county is able to supply local food banks with kits that include all the ingredients for each dish, according to the statement.

This program was also made possible with support from the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Folklife Program for New Jersey.

To access a local food pantry or to support community food banks, visit http://www.middlesexcountynj.gov/Government/Departments/mcia/Pages/Mcfoods/Food-Assistance.aspx.

For more information, including video demonstrations, visit www.middlesexcountynj.gov/Government/Departments/BDE/Pages/ArtsInstitute/Share-Your-Foodways.aspx


Jerome’s Jammin’ Chickpeas and Spinach

By Chef Jerome Mangroo
co-owner and proprietor
Mollaga Indian Grill Restaurant
North Brunswick



  • 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1½ cup water
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 1 onion, finely minced or pureed
  • 2 tomatoes, finely minced or pureed
  • 1½ tbsp curry powder, spice blend in box (chili, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic or Green Seasoning
  • ½ tsp chili powder (optional)


  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas, set aside.
  2. Place a small pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, onions and tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic or Green Seasoning. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add spices and water. Cook on low heat for 3 minutes.
  4. Add chickpeas and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Toss fresh spinach in and stir while hot. Cook spinach to your preference.

For a full list of participating food pantries, where you can get the ingredients for these recipes and much more, please visit https://discovermiddlesex.com/covid19/ and click on “food assistance” under “resources.”

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