With the pandemic separating people, the Central Food Network is planning to share communal recipes with a cookbook fundraiser.

The charity launched the initiative Jan. 25, calling for recipe submissions of any type. It will later place the entries into a book that will be sold in the area. Central Food Network acting director, Tina Jackson, said the proceeds will go towards the community cook program, which is making free prepared meals.

“I hope that this is a fun way for people to get involved and look back through family recipes,” Jackson said. “And to be able to feel connected to the rest of us, even when we’re all in our own houses and trying to stay safe. I hope it ends in a sense of community.”

Volunteer Gail Gotter came up with the idea. She said the food bank is always looking for more funding and this seemed like a good way to offer that.

“We just hope that it’s all-inclusive with people in the community – and even outside the community,” Gotter said. “Who can share some of their tried-and-true recipes.”

Jackson said they have put some traditional fundraisers on hold due to the pandemic. But she added donations are going strong.

“Just completely floored by the support we have received, which has meant we have been able to ramp up and respond to the increases in the need for food,” Jackson said.

The demand in the summer, as well as their Christmas hampers, were 10 per cent higher compared to 2019 last year, Jackson said. She added there was a lull in demand after the holidays, but there has been a noticeable increase at Highlands East food banks in the past two weeks.

“What I’m hearing is a lot of people that have been laid off in this specific lockdown and are in the midst of waiting for EI (employment insurance),” Jackson said.

Jackson said she hopes individuals, groups and businesses can participate.

“A great way to bring the community together in a safe way,” she said. “Everybody’s doing a little bit more cooking, a little bit more baking and it’s a great way for people to dust off those recipes.”

To submit or ask questions, contact recipes@centralfoodnetwork.org or call 705-448-2285.

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