The Farm2Kitchen soup mix product is a collaboration between the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources, the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc. (Food Centre), and the Regina Food Bank and the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre.
To address issues of food insecurity in Saskatchewan, USask researcher Dr. Michael Nickerson (PhD) partnered with the Food Centre to develop an affordable, easy to make and nourishing soup, using crops grown in Saskatchewan.
The science behind the soup mix is based on a research project led by Nickerson, acting head of the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. Funded by GIFS, the goal of the project was to produce therapeutic food products made primarily from pulses and cereals that could respond to moderate to acute malnutrition within high-risk communities.
In the original project, researchers investigated the protein quality of pulse and cereal crops and how to process them into food aid products for use in Ethiopia. The research team investigated blending ratios to maximize the nutritional benefits of the protein.
One product developed was a fortified cereal-based product with all the micronutrients that children would need to maintain growth nutrition. The other product was a lipid-based supplement that could be prescribed by a community health clinic to address nutritional needs of children six months and older.
Nickerson has now expanded the notable health benefits from the research project into Saskatchewan by partnering with the Food Centre and local foods banks, bringing this nutritious soup to families in need.
According to Food Banks Canada, the increasing cost of food and housing, as well as high inflation and low social assistance rates, have contributed to the rise in food bank usage across the country. The Regina Food Bank states that one in five Saskatchewan children are food insecure. The soup mix product will help Saskatchewan food banks control food cost and feed more families, using cereals and pulses grown in the province. The food banks hope to expand the product across Saskatchewan and Canada to address supply demands.
Packed with protein and nutrients from lentils and oats, each soup packet makes four to five cups of soup when mixed with water. A total of 15,000 packages have been produced at the Food Centre and will be shared in food hampers by the Regina Food Bank and the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre.
“The Food Centre is pleased to partner with the University of Saskatchewan and GIFS on this initiative to provide a healthy food option for patrons of the Regina Food Bank and the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre. In collaboration with Dr. Nickerson, this dry soup mix was developed at the Food Centre to meet the daily nutritional needs of families and is easy to prepare. The Food Banks in Saskatchewan are important community supports and we are happy to have collaborated on this to address food insecurity and support their mission.”
- Mehmet Tulbek (PhD), president, Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc.
“In proud Prairie tradition we take care of our neighbours. At a time of record food insecurity, we need innovation, collaboration, and our agriculture and food sector. We are grateful for our partners, and excited to expand the program across the country, so that more families can benefit from the most powerful form of nourishment, care.”
- David Froh, vice-president, Regina Food Bank
“USask researchers are committed to advancing knowledge that will better the lives of people in our communities. Producing innovative food and bioproducts for a sustainable future is a key priority within our Agriculture signature area of research. This innovative new product is an example of how research, strategic partnerships, and industry can all come together to make a substantial difference and address food insecurity in Saskatchewan and around the world."
- Baljit Singh (PhD), vice-president research, USask
“Saskatchewan is known for its rich agricultural resources and for producing high quality crops to feed the world and for coming together to support our communities. Food security is a worldwide issue and there are families in Canada and in Saskatchewan that face significant challenges to put food on the table. Pulses and cereals represent significant nutritional powerhouses, particularly as it relates to providing protein to support growth and nutrition. Our research into blending and enhancing the nutritional profiles of lentils and oats provided an opportunity to collaborate and develop a nutritious meal option to support families in Saskatchewan.”
- Michael Nickerson (PhD), acting department head, Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, USask
“The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) is very pleased to support this project, which aligns with our vision of a world where everyone has access to safe and nutritious food and our approach to working with partners to achieve that vision at home and abroad. GIFS is grateful for the partnership with USask’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources, the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, and the Regina Food Bank and the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre, and their different and valuable contributions to help make this happen.”
- Steven Webb (PhD), chief executive officer, Global Institute for Food Security
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