If you’ve ever come to YOTO for a visit you’ve probably had a chance to see the mini-mall where our students can shop for food for free.

We recently hosted some members from The Women of Quail Creek, a service group from Green Valley who were interested in getting a behind the scenes look at the mini-mall. They had a lot of questions about the type of food we keep on our shelves, most of which we’ve learned students will actually use. Typically this food is easy and fast to prepare.

A few weeks after their tour they called with an idea. They wanted to know if it would be ok if they put together a cook book that contained several recipes all of which could be prepared solely with food from our mini-mall. They would write the recipes, print the books and deliver them. Of course, we said yes!

As they were gathering recipes from their members they realized that it was challenging because we don’t carry spices in the mini-mall. Spice containers are bulky and difficult for students to carry around. This didn’t stop them. Two members of the group recently stopped by and delivered an array of 18 different spices, individually wrapped in small plastic packages labeled and ready for students to toss in their backpacks! “It seemed that spices would give the students a great chance to change up recipes and maybe experience something new,” says Diane Quinn of The Women of Quail Creek. The care they put into preparing these packages was incredible.

This is what we mean when we say YOTO is truly a community supported organization. This ownership of YOTO’s mission and innovation is why our program keeps getting better. We simply could not do this work without the help of the community.

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