Save Our Outreach Freezer Fund

Help us save our outreach! We need a large, upright freezer!

We learned that Panera gives their bread away each night to charities who feed people, so we called our local store manager and asked how to get set up to pick up bread for our outreach. The manager told us she’d put us on the schedule for Friday nights. We have been picking up bread every Friday night since August, and delivering it to needy families each Saturday.

We learned two weeks ago that the manager is GONE, and she didn’t have the authority to the schedule, the NWLA Food Bank does. The Food Bank didn’t know about us and scheduled another charity who feeds people to pick up on Fridays.

We called the Food Bank and explained the situation. The Food Bank is allowing us to continue picking up bread but our day is now Monday. This presents a huge problem:

Because Panera is awesome – there are NO preservatives in their bread, so it is all spoiled before Saturday. We need a large, upright freezer so that we can store the bread from Monday to Saturday.

Without the freezer – we have to stop. The charity who is now picking up on Fridays can’t pick up on Mondays, and when it comes to feeding people, it’s not “us or them”.


Why haven’t we needed a freezer before now?

Because our outreach is on Saturday and we were picking up bread on Friday night.

Why can’t we do our outreach on Tuesday?

I work full time and am taking college classes.  We gladly gave up our Friday nights and weekends to feed people, but we are not able to keep the Friday night pickup.

Why don’t you just stop doing this?

1 in 6 people in our country isn’t getting enough to eat.   There is enough food wasted in this country to feed  way more than 1 in 6 people but it takes effort from people like me and you to make sure that everyone gets to eat. There should NEVER be anyone going hungry, it does not have to be this way.


Help Save Art in Bossier City Schools!

Bossier City, Louisiana schools art programs have been cut  back to near-nothing.  The budget is $1.00 PER STUDENT.  That is not enough to do even ONE art project, much less an entire year of instruction.

Check out this article written by the Bossier Arts Council for the details.

Please, read the article and give whatever you can spare, even if it’s only $5.00.

Donate to Bossier Arts Council via PayPal.
Important: When you get to the “Review your donation” screen, click the Special Instructions link and put “for Project Art Supplies” in the box so the BAC will know how to apply your donation.

I donated.  Will you?

Preparedness on a Budget

September is “National Preparedness Month” – You can be the hero!


Being prepared for emergencies doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

For most of us it just takes some planning and slow-and-steady commitment to follow through.  Check out my article Basic Preparedness for a list of essential items to have in your emergency supplies kit.


Beyond the emergency supplies (food, water, first aid supplies), you need to have a plan in place.  Talk with your family about the kinds of disasters and hazards that can happen in your area, and have a designated meeting place near your home, and another one outside of your neighborhood in case it is not possible to meet close to home.


Make sure you have updated contact information for family, friends, and neighbors on hand. If the power is out, your computer is not a great place to store your contact list.

Gather copies of important paperwork, such as birth certificates, insurance policies and place those in your emergency kit.

Purchase emergency kit supplies whenever you are able to and don’t stop until you have everything you need. Watch for sales, or buy just one extra item at a time.


About once a year, check your emergency kit and update paperwork and  contact information.  Once a year is also a really good time to rotate your stored food and to check the expiration dates on everything.  If you are storing tap water in re-used plastic bottles, you should change out the water a few times each year.

Check out this guide from FEMA for National Preparedness Month for more ideas: NPM: Preparedness on a Budget

Learning to cook can change your life

The most important thing you can do to improve your health is to cook your own food.  

Prepackaged and processed foods contain lots of chemicals and substances that you will never find in a pantry in someone’s home.   Lots of extra chemicals are necessary to keep food looking fresh and recent, but there are serious health concerns about these dyes, flavors, emulsifiers, and preservatives.  You are probably already aware of the high levels of salt and fat that comes with mass-produced “corporate cooking” as well.

“I don’t have time to cook!”

Cooking real food does take more time than ripping open a colorful box and throwing it in the microwave, but the perception that cooking  takes “too long” is false.  A web search for “quick and easy recipes” turned up thousands of recipes that take 30 to 45 minutes to prepare, using fresh un-processed ingredients and very simple steps.

Using an electric pressure cooker, I can prepare a huge pot of black eyed peas and sausage served over rice, in less than 45 minutes, starting with dry peas from my pantry.  (Recipe below)

Not only is this healthy and clean food – it is a lot cheaper as well.    Recently I made our “Gusto Chow” for a group of ten people, and it cost me $20.00 to make a pot big enough to feed all of us twice.


How Cooking Can Change Your Life

The first 7:30 of this video is quite eye-opening.


As Michael Pollan says, cooking is about creativity and control.   If you exercise greater control over exactly what goes into your body, you have a much better control over your own health.  Pollan also said “Really great cooking comes from care and conviction, not from a complicated recipe or specific methods.

Moxie says: It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to cook right now.  There are thousands of recipe websites with pictures and videos that can teach you how to make anything you want.

Learning how to cook is the easy part.  Training yourself to get in the kitchen and DO IT instead of going the “easy route” is the difficult part.  I admit, it took me a few years to learn how to cook and to train myself out of the habit of getting “easy” prepackaged food, but these days we happily go several months without any prepackaged meals.


Gusto Chow Recipe

Serves 3 – 10
Not to be confused with Gusto Chow for 100


1 lb bag dry black eyed peas
1 package of smoked sausage
1 large onion, diced
4-6 stalks celery, diced
2 cups dry, uncooked rice

Seasonings: minced garlic, salt, pepper, liquid smoke, and herbs
(we use basil, oregano, and marjoram)


Electric pressure cooker
2 quart sauce pan
cutting board and a good knife

Optional: Tea kettle or a second pot for boiling water, if you want to really speed things up!


Sort and rinse peas and set them on the stove to boil with enough water to allow the peas to expand. Get the peas to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute, but not longer than 5 minutes. Turn the heat down and let the beans simmer while you do the other steps.

Slice the smoked sausage and brown it in the pressure cooker. Pour off extra fat.

Add the diced onion and celery, and sauté until done.

Drain peas and add them to the pressure cooker, add water to cover.
(Here is where that kettle of boiling water comes in handy!)

Add garlic, herbs, and seasonings to taste.

Attach the pressure cooker lid and set it to cook on High pressure for 30 minutes.

Make rice on the stove while the pressure cooker is doing its thing, and you will likely have 20 minutes to sit down and relax until your home-cooked meal is ready.


If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you would simmer the black eyed peas and sausage on the stove for 90 minutes. This is perfect for a weekend, but the pressure cooker makes it work on a week night.
But Moxie… an electric pressure cooker costs $80!!Yup, they do.  If you just look at the savings of using dry beans over canned, you’re saving $5 or more PER MEAL. Because we can use more dry beans, we are eating a LOT less meat.  We are using basic ingredients which are cheaper.My pressure cooker lowered my grocery costs by nearly $100 every month.

Moxie (AKA Paige) is co-founder of the Louisiana Empowerment Initiative, and apparently has a lot to say about cooking and sharing food!