By Lyndsie Kiebert
People have started to notice the cooler of fruits and veggies on the corner of Fifth and Cedar. Those who bother to stop find a sign reading “Free fresh produce.”
The women behind 7B Culinary Connections (7BCC) — Adreeanna Black, Alyssa Lucero and Carmen Daugherty — say they’ve had more than one person ask, “Wait, it’s really free?”
7BCC is responsible for the cooler and a whole lot more, all in the name of “connecting the community through food.” And yes, the produce is free, thanks to their efforts to implement “grocery rescue” in Sandpoint.
“We go to the grocery stores in the morning, pick up the food they would normally throw out — food that’s too big (or strangely shaped), that has a bruise on it, something a little wilty, or just the old shipment when they get a new one — then bring it back here and go through it,” she said. “We repackage it and put it in the cooler.”
7BCC is the nonprofit associated with Bistro at Home, a for-profit created and run by Black (chef) and Lucero (brand manager). 7BCC is their way of giving back to the community, Lucero said.
The grocery rescue is a fairly new aspect of their operations, having only been around for a month. The nonprofit’s other programs include a small dry goods pantry (also located at the 503 Cedar St. location, near Foster’s Crossing) and cooking classes for children ages 2-12.
Lucero said the kids’ classes began thanks to popular demand and typically run $30-$40. The hope is to educate local children in the entire food production process from start to finish.
“We want to teach them to grow stuff in a garden, then go into the kitchen and show them how to cook it,” she said. “Then, they’re cutting tops off carrots and the question becomes, ‘What’s next?’ So we introduce compost bins, and then the compost goes into the garden. They get to see that full circle.”
Lucero said community support for the dry goods pantry has been a pleasant surprise. Originally, 7BCC put aside funds to keep the pantry stocked, but have only had to do so twice since they moved into the Cedar Street building in November.
“One time I put up a post on Facebook (about how it was almost empty), then came back the next day and stuff was falling out,” she said. She said suggested items for the pantry include low-sodium and organic canned goods, as well as whole wheat bread and pasta.
When it comes to their cooler and pantry, 7BCC’s policy is simple: Take what you need, leave what you can. And everyone is welcome.
“It doesn’t matter what the demographic is — at the end of the day you’re still hungry,” Black said. “People gotta eat, and I don’t think it should be a hard or humiliating experience.”
Keep up to date on all 7BCC happenings on their Facebook page, or contact them at (208) 304-7328.