Food Preservation

Food preservation education resurges with grant
Posted on 04/04/2023
FACS instructor Missy Cox demonstrates how to use a vacuum sealer for blanching vegetables.

Missy Cox, last year’s district-level Teacher of the Year, has been on a food preservation education kick of late.

With a $500 grant awarded by the Missouri Retired Teachers Foundation, the Poplar Bluff High School food and consumer science instructor purchased vacuum sealers, blanching baskets, jelly strainers and a food mill among other utensils to teach advanced foods students preservation methods.

The seeds were planted one year ago when R-I Food Services Director Dixie Harden of Chartwells sent out an internal bulletin in observance of Earth Day stating that: “wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills.”

“It all started when Dixie sent out a newsletter talking about Stop Food Waste Day in spring, saying that upward of 40 percent of our food supply in America is thrown away,” Cox recalled. “I knew the number was high, but not that high.”

An Ellsinore resident, Cox along with her husband Eugene has volunteered at the Bread Shed in Carter County and witnessed the extent of the need through the food ministry. She noted that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program had just discontinued its temporary benefit increase.

“I’ve always been a big proponent of not throwing away food anyway,” Cox said. “There are so many here that are hungry. These kids need to learn the importance, or that percentage won’t change.”

Prior to spring break last month, Cox demonstrated how to blanch vegetables and make freezer jam as well as refrigerator pickles. Toward the end of the semester, she plans to utilize the preserved ingredients while teaching her students how to make a beef stew. “We’re failing to pass [these techniques] down,” she continued.

Cox grew up gardening with her parents Ron and Kathy Carnahan, plus both her paternal and maternal grandparents. She said she can remember not being allowed to enter the kitchen when the pressure canner was in use by her mother, “and she quit before I was old enough to help.”

Over the summer, Cox applied for the MRTF funding, stating in her proposal: “According to Feeding America, 108 billion pounds of food are wasted in the U.S. each year.” The pandemic has affected the food supply in addition to recent natural disasters, she further elaborated, and the associated inflation has caused “gardening to start to make a comeback.”


Cutline: FACS instructor Missy Cox demonstrates how to use a vacuum sealer for blanching vegetables on Friday, March 10, at PBHS.

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