Some years ago, Maria Dichtelmiller found herself unable to buy food and living in a shelter. She went to The Community Kitchen in Keene, a local food pantry.
While standing in line at the pantry, Maria noticed a chayote (a type of squash) had been sorted in with boxes of fruits. After pointing this out and explaining what a chayote was to the staff, they hired her as a volunteer. She now works at the Kitchen’s grain station and educates others on the value of food they might be unfamiliar with.
“Quinoa: No one knew how to say it, much less how to use it, what it’s good for. So I started sharing the information with people, and they started taking it when they never had before.”
Maria goes beyond just printing out and posting recipes and tips for the ingredients at her station. She actively encourages others to discover everything the pantry stocks, and to think up creative ways to use what’s available.
“Last week they had ginger lemonade. Everybody’s going, 'Well, I don't know, I might not like it,’ and I said, 'Listen, take this bottle, pour it over chicken, bake it, and you got some flavorful chicken and a nice gravy.' Well, everybody took it, and now we're out of that.”
“I love it, I love trying to help people, especially to eat. It’s such a basic need. Everybody’s got to eat.”