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Kanbe's Markets developing kitchen program to turn imperfect produce into healthy meals

Posted at 3:21 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 18:25:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In August alone, Kanbe's Markets received more than 10,000 pounds of donated produce.

The perfect produce goes to corner stores in food deserts.

"A lot of that produce is not perfect but it can definitely be turned into meals that produce would otherwise be in landfills," said Amber Abram, chef consultant.

Kanbe's is developing its new Kitchen Pilot Program with the goal of getting 6,000 meals out per month into communities where lots of fresh fruits and veggies are hard to find.

The team currently makes meals in their mobile food truck, but a fully functioning kitchen will ramp it up.

Kanbe's works with what they have. For example, they received 3,600 pounds of papaya in one delivery.

Imagine 10,000 pounds and all the creative meals they can make.

Volunteers were sorting out bell peppers when KSHB 41 News visited.

"They'll just have like little blemishes on them and little imperfections, but if you cut around them, they're otherwise perfectly great," Abram said.

Abram will develop these meals in the new kitchen, adding proteins and grains to make them filling.

"We could use this for lots of sauces, to make pasta, these could go into, like, if we did any taco bowls we could easily add this into ground beef to make it nice and flavorful," Abram said.

They'll package up the meals and hand them off to organizations they already work with, who have relationships with folks in need.

"It's not just a hot dog or something, it's a whole healthy meal with the vegetables. And being able to give out 6,000 meals, I can't wait," Bishop Tony Caldwell said.

The Justice Center will work with Kanbe's to distribute the meals. Caldwell said many times the demand is higher than what they can give.

Justice Center's team also delivers food to seniors who can't leave their homes.

"The partnership we have, the more meals they can get to us, the more we can get out to the community," Caldwell said.

Caldwell said the partnership has worked out wonderfully because the Kanbe's team caters to the community's palate — Abram said she's gotten feedback from folks that they would like rice and bean dishes.

Kanbe's kitchen will be fully developed within the next year.