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A “Menu Makeover” training led by Lancaster General Health staff members gave one man a great idea that led to a delicious and nutritious dinner for more than 100 hungry Lancastrians.

Greg Henning already knew how to cook – he is the culinary facilitator for the Lancaster County Career & Technology Center. But in December, he took the popular training as a volunteer at the East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church in Lancaster City, where he coordinates and occasionally prepares the free community meal served to more than 100 people every Monday at 5:30 p.m.

The class was held at Kegel’s Produce Playground and organized by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank for its partner agencies – organizations that serve meals to people in need. The goal of the training was to help these organizations create delicious, healthy meals on a budget. 

LG Health, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and Kegel’s Produce are partners in the Lighten Up Lancaster County coalition, a group of organizations and individuals dedicated to increasing the number of people in Lancaster at a healthy weight by promoting healthy eating and physical activity.

Henning was curious about ways he could make his church’s meals more nutritious while keeping the costs down. But it was the hands-on part of his training and the “lightened-up” beef stew recipe provided that inspired him.

He thought it was so good that he wanted to get the Lancaster County CTC Culinary Arts students involved. So, he asked them to help him prepare the stew for his church’s holiday community meal on Dec. 26.

The giving didn’t stop there, though. An East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church couple learned of the planned meal and donated a cow, which was butchered shortly before Christmas and frozen until the students cooked on Dec. 23 at CTC’s kitchen in Mount Joy.

“We're thrilled that Greg was inspired,” said Brenda Buescher, MPH, a health promotion specialist in Community Health & Wellness at LG Health. “We teach some easy, healthy and tasty recipes using ingredients typically found at food pantries – beans, squash, beef, chicken, cabbage.” She added that the training is designed for adults who already have cooking skills but are looking for some good ideas.

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