Published On: Tue, Jan 26th, 2021

Two Boca Raton Girl Scouts Write Recipe Book for Underserved

Kelsey Bonner & Analiesa Chavez

Boca Raton, FL —Boca Helping Hands (BHH) will help distribute a new recipe book that two Boca Raton Girl Scouts put together that uses ingredients from the pantry bags of groceries that BHH provides to its clients. Analiesa Chavez & Kelsey Bonner, both 14 and students at West Boca Raton Community High School, are Cadettes (Scouts in Grades 6-8) with the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida Troop 20820. The girls both earned the Silver Award for their work on the book.

Boca Helping Hands has posted the cookbook on their website as a resource, will share it on social media and include a new recipe each week in its pantry bags.

“We were researching what initiative we could do to earn our Girl Scouts Silver Award, and we knew that we wanted to help those less fortunate than us,” Analiesa said. “We knew about Boca Helping Hands through our troop. We came up with the idea of putting together a recipe book using common ingredients from the pantry bags and thought it would be a great way to help Boca Helping Hands clients.”

The girls spent four months researching the book and volunteered at the organization repeatedly to better understand Boca Helping Hands’ work.

“Gathering the information is the part that took us the longest,” Analiesa said. Kelsey added, “We did lots of research about what would be nutritious and not time consuming, using the resources clients are given. We know that a lot of people can’t spare the time it takes to defrost, prep a bunch of ingredients and cook for a long amount of time.”

Dawn Chavez, Analiesa’s mother, and 20820 troop leader, says the girls learned a lot about what goes into a meal from working on this project. “I’m a mom and I’m used to creating meals for a family of 5, so I thought it would be easy for them, but there was a major learning curve,” she said. “They had to test the recipes to make sure they worked well with the ingredients in the pantry bags.”

One of the girls’ biggest challenges was figuring out ingredient alterations and substitutions, since not all pantry bags contain the same items. In addition to testing recipes for ease of use, they also identified additional proteins and spices that could be swapped in to make them more adaptable.

The Silver Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Eligible projects require service with an organization that helps others in the community and must have an educational and teaching component.

After completing their project, the two girls feel more connected to the community. “I’ve never really thought about people struggling with food – I always thought food was something people just had,” Kelsey said. “You hear about it [food insecurity], but you don’t quite understand it until you see it. This experience was definitely eye opening, and it was nice to give back. It feels good that we can help people who are struggling at a time like this.”

About Boca Helping Hands
Boca Helping Hands (BHH) is a community-based nonprofit that provides food, medical and financial assistance to meet basic human needs as well as education, job training and guidance to create self-sufficiency. Through its various assistance programs, BHH supports over 27,000 people annually.

BHH distributes 80,000 pantry bags each year at four Palm Beach County locations and serves over 80,000 hot meals annually, six days per week. The organization expands access to affordable medical, dental and behavioral care through its partnership with Genesis Community Health, serving clients at clinics in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach. BHH sends weekend meals home with food-insecure elementary school students via the BHH Backpacks Program, provides emergency financial support to families facing eviction or loss of utility service and assists working families with the rising cost of childcare through the Children’s Assistance Program (CAP).

With an increased focus on client self-sufficiency, BHH awards scholarships for qualified candidates to attend accredited vocational training classes that prepare them for careers in the healthcare, information technology and transportation industries. BHH also offers free English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes and courses in nutrition and other life skills. Staff and volunteer mentors counsel the unemployed and underemployed in basic workplace skills and help them polish resumes and search for jobs.

Charity Navigator named Boca Helping Hands a Four-Star Charity for the 14th consecutive year in April 2020. Boca Helping Hands is located at 1500 NW 1st Court, Boca Raton, FL 33432. For more information, please visit BocaHelpingHands.org.

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