Yolo Women to Cook Home Recipes in UC Davis Lab Project Aims to Use Surplus Tomatoes to Develop Recipes and Product to Feed the Food-Insecure

By Julia Ann Easley on September 12, 2016 


Donning aprons and hairnets, 15 women from rural Yolo County will cook home recipes in a lab at the University of California, Davis, in an effort to use locally grown, surplus tomatoes to develop a nutritious product for the food-insecure. 

The women are co-researchers in Feeding Yolo County and Beyond, a collaboration of the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, the Yolo Food Bank and the Family Hui Mainland community organization. 
Partners hope the project can be replicated in other areas where there is food insecurity and potential for crop recovery. 

Note: Members of the media in the lab must wear hairnets and closed shoes. Longer hair should be up. 

Friday, Sept. 16, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

9 a.m. orientation and safety instructions 
9:30 a.m. women learn to can and pickle tomatoes 
11 a.m. women cook and taste each others recipes 
1 p.m. women eat lunch 
2 p.m. event concludes 

The Carlos Alvarez Food Innovation Laboratory is in the Sensory Building of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on the Davis campus. Interactive Map: Sensory Building of the Robert Mondavi Institute 

Setting of a large, six-station teaching kitchen 
15 women cooking and tasting recipes 

On-site and available for interviews will be: 
The women who are cooking and participating in Family Hui Mainland programs; some can do interviews in English, others, in Spanish 
Linda Zablotny-Hurst, director of development at the Yolo Food Bank 
Lucy Roberts, director of Family Hui Mainland 
Juliana De Moura Bell, assistant professor of food science and technology at UC Davis and principal investigator of the project 

The Yolo Food Bank initiated the idea for the project as a way to recover otherwise wasted produce to help feed the food-insecure in the county. 

Beginning some 18 months ago, the project surveyed more than 80 Yolo County families to determine their level of food insecurity, nutrition deficiencies and food preferences. And a nutritionist assessed their diets. 

Juliana De Moura Bell, an assistant professor of food science and technology and the principal investigator, said the project is focusing on tomatoes because of their abundance in the county and their suitability for pairing with flavor favorites such as cilantro, garlic and jalapeños. The survey found that 80 percent of respondents used tomatoes daily or often to make meals. Research is also being done to determine the potential supply of donated tomatoes. 

The women, from Madison, Arbuckle and Knights Landing all communities identified as food deserts were recruited through Family Hui Mainland, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy families and communities. 

The institute preserved tomatoes through canning, pickling and drying. Using those products, the women have been working on recipes at home. From among recipes they submit, De Moura Bell will select four to six for the women to cook and taste in the UC Davis lab. 

After the event, the project will analyze the nutritional content of the recipes. Future work, De Moura Bell said, will look to develop the recipes, study their shelf life and create a product that can be made for Yolo Food Bank clients and, perhaps, the commercial market. Stews, soups and pasta dishes have high potential, she said. 

About the partners 
Partnering with more than 60 agencies, the Yolo Food Bank distributes more than 4 million pounds of food to serve about 52,000 people in 19,000 households. The food bank is raising $6 million to renovate a new facility in Woodland and for the first time add food-processing capabilities. 
First established in the Hawaiian Islands, Family Hui provides peer-led parenting programs. The program in Yolo County is the first on the mainland and is poised to expand statewide with a new $640,000 grant. 

Established in January 2015, the Innovation Institute for Food and Health at UC Davis collaborates to advance new discoveries in sustainable food, agriculture and nutrition along the entire innovation process from laboratory research to practical application. 

Directions and Parking 
From Interstate 80, take the UC Davis exit (just east of Highway 113 North). Turn north and proceed along Old Davis Road past the information kiosk and through the traffic circle. At Hilgard Lane, turn right to access the South Entry Parking Structure. The Sensory Building is directly to the west. 

To park closer to the building, television vans may continue south on Hilgard Lane. Take the first right to drive between the RMIs Brewery Winery and Food Pilot Facility and the Jackson Sustainable Winery. Yielding to winery and vineyard operations, proceed, turning right and then left to enter the vineyard. To keep down the dust that can harm vines, drive north at no more than 5 mph and park on only the paved area on the west side of the Sensory Building. 

Media contact(s) 
Linda Zablotny-Hurst, Yolo Food Bank, 530-668-0690, linda@yolofoodbank.org 
Lucy Roberts, Family Hui Mainland, 407-587-9924, lroberts@lead4tomorrow.org 
Juliana De Moura Bell, Food Science and Technology, 530-752-5007, jdemourabell@ucdavis.edu 
Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248, 530-219-4545 cell, jaeasley@ucdavis.edu 

To see more UC Davis news, visit our online newsroom: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news.