NECAC class demonstrates ways to save money on groceries

Martinex, Carolyn

NECAC recently held a one-day class for income-qualifying participants on the process to dehydrate apples and potatos. Pictured is Carolyn Martinez, a class participant, removing potato chips from a dehydrator. | Photo courtesy of NECAC

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Carolyn Martinez has found a handy way to cut down on food costs.

The Pike County woman enrolled in a dehydrating class sponsored by NECAC. It’s just one of many life-skills classes offered by the agency.

In a press release, Martinez said, “I’ve got a garden going, and I’m ready to have some vegetables. I’m going to try. I’m going to do good. We’ve got a good class here. Everyone is wonderful.”

Rising food prices have led many people to look for ways to save money. One alternative is to grow or preserve vegetables and fruit.

NECAC’s free one-day class for income-qualifying participants offered lessons on dehydrating apples and potatoes to make chips.

“It enables them to have more food that’s sustainable and to cut down on costs,” said NECAC Pike County service coordinator Penny Dixon. “You can buy more fresh vegetables in the summertime than you can in the wintertime. It really helps.”

Martinez was unfamiliar with the dehydrating process. After slicing a potato, she blanched the chips for four minutes in hot water, then shocked them for a minute in cold water. The chips were arranged on a tray and put into the dehydrator at 131 degrees. Completion takes 6-10 hours, depending upon the thickness of the chips.

As an added bonus, each participant received a dehydrator to take home. NECAC Shelby County service coordinator Lisa Blickhan began the program this spring with 45 units and says about 15 are left. She will teach the class in other counties upon request.

“We’re very appreciative of what NECAC does and the people who come and teach us different things and how to save money,” said another class member, Tammy Perez.

“It’s a win-win for them,” Blickhan said. “The families will be able to make their own food and cut down on their grocery bills.”

Other life-skills classes offered by NECAC include gardening, healthy eating on a budget, canning, home safety, energy savings, stress management, fraud awareness and realistic renting.

More information is available by calling Dixon at 573-324-2207 or Blickhan at 573-633-2210.

This program is funded in whole or part with $3,000 of federal funds received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Community Services Block Grant, as provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division. The funds received from the Family Support Division are all federally funded.

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