Category Archives: Food & Drink

The food truck festival begins in downtown Corpus Christi | Instant News


CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – After a year-long haitus, the street foos festival kicked off in downtown Corpus Christi this weekend.

Several food trucks converge offshore to offer food and snack options to those enjoying a day near the bay. Event organizers said the owners of these food trucks were affected by the pandemic but are happy to return to serving the community.

“We are very happy we are back, all your food trucks will see more of them at our events across the state, we are very happy to be here today,” said John Garcia, festival organizer.

The food truck festival will take place over the next few weekends. For more information, you can visit them Facebook page.



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NH’s secret weapon against child exploitation will work for food | Animal | Instant News


In the fight against child exploitation, New Hampshire has a secret weapon.

Niko is an “electronic storage device” (ESD) dog, trained to sniff out anything that can store digital images. She has proven a key asset in law enforcement pursuits of cases involving the distribution and possession of child sexual abuse (CSAM) material.

Since last May, the kind-hearted golden retriever / Labrador cross has been a partner with Matt Fleming, the deputy in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department who is the investigator for the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force.

Fleming took up the job after retiring in 2019 as a detective in the Bedford police department, where he worked on CSAM cases for many years. “I just feel like someone has to fight for the kids, and I’m not done fighting yet,” he said.

The task force bought 2-year-old Niko with a state grant from Jordan Detection Canine in Indiana, which has trained ESD dogs for police agencies across the country.

Niko’s job was to accompany Fleming in carrying out search orders anywhere in the state and looking for evidence. While police investigators may have missed something well-hidden, Niko is trained to detect certain chemicals that keep electronic storage devices like cell phones, thumb drives, and tablets from overheating.

Since Niko joined last May, she has participated in 70 quests.

He’s been inventing electronics all the time.

“Every time I train the dog, I really feel humbled by his abilities,” said Fleming. “It’s something until you see it you would never believe a dog could do it.”

“He can find hard drives, flash drives, micro SD cards, cell phones, iPads, iPods. If they can keep something, he can find it, “he said.

When he found something, Niko alerted the handler by sitting near the hidden object. “Show me,” Fleming told the dog, and Niko placed her nose exactly where the smell was.

Niko’s reward for her work is food – something that half the Lab has enthusiastically received from her, says Fleming.

Determined

Lt. Eric Kinsman, commander of the ICAC, said the ESD dogs found things that humans may have missed.

“Because humans are constantly reasoning and are constantly in a state of inferring what may or may not exist in a place, sometimes things are overlooked,” Kinsman said.

Dogs don’t make judgments about whether hiding places make sense, he said. “All the dogs work, everything they care about, work for the reward,” he said.

Niko was originally slated to become an eye-seeing dog but that wasn’t his destiny, said Fleming. “We never said they failed, because it means something,” he said. They call this “career change.”

Fleming spent several weeks in Indiana last spring, learning how to work with Niko, and the team was recertified for ESD work this year.

As a certified therapy dog, Niko is also trained to provide comfort to every young person at the search site, said Fleming. “Sometimes it helps shed tears from the children in the neighborhood,” he said.

Fleming said Niko had become an invaluable member of the ICAC. “We say Niko is our employee, but he is probably our best friend and teammate too,” he said.

Nicole Thorspecken, assistant district attorney for Hillsborough County who heads the region’s cybercrime unit, said New Hampshire was “very fortunate” to have Niko work for the ICAC.

Technology is always changing, and law enforcement has to keep up, he said.

“Everything is now connected to the internet, so any type of electronic device could have criminal evidence of possession, distribution or creation of child sexual abuse imagery,” he said.

Dog entertainer

Portsmouth Police Lt. Eric Kinsman, commander of the ICAC, said investigators, prosecutors and caseworkers handling such gruesome cases “are doing God’s work.”

And Niko is doing her part to help them, he said.

“Taking Niko for a walk around the office is a nice break,” said Kinsman.

“He will come and rest his head on your lap and let you forget a few things for a moment.”

Niko is a frequent visitor to the lab where forensic examiners have to see gruesome images of children being abused, said her handler, Fleming.

“They can sit on the floor with him, play with him. They can try to forget that what they see on the computer screen is probably something that no one should see, “he said. “Niko offers them a chance to keep them away from that.”

Attorney Thorspecken said handling such cases has never been easier. “It is always difficult to see a child at their worst times and capture and reminisce on a permanent basis,” he said.

He refers to Niko as a “best friend”.

“I hate doing picture reviews,” he said. “I can tell you based on my experience, it’s much easier if you have an adorable dog sitting next to you.”

One very difficult day, he said, Niko put his front paws on his chair, “took the mask off my face and gave me a big kiss.”

Niko’s contribution, said Fleming, “was much bigger than a dog could find a cell phone.”

“He has saved investigators,” he said. He has saved the children.

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Valley News – Volunteer Spotlight: Explore the kitchen production park in Charlestown | Instant News


Published: 4/10/2021 9:24:17 PM

Modified: 4/10/2021 9:24:16 PM

The Upper Valley Land Trust is expanding the Food Pantry Garden Program to Charlestown and needs volunteers to help.

The 5,000-square-foot park will be located in the Charlestown section of Up on the Hill, about 1,000 hectares of land owned by trust land that also spans Unity and Claremont. Produce grown on site will be donated to Claremont Soup Kitchen.

The new park will resemble the UVLT food kitchen garden that started in 2019 in the Brookmead Conservation Area in Norwich. The produce grown there is donated to Willing Hands, a Norwich-based non-profit organization that distributes produce to soup kitchens and other organizations that work with food insecure people throughout the Upper Valley.

“We wanted to expand the program because it was going really well, and we had lots of other types of land that were great for growing vegetables,” said Alison Marchione, UVLT program manager. “Good ground, and close proximity to Claremont as a kind of link.”

Produce picked in Charlestown is sent straight to Claremont Soup Kitchen, rather than being sent back to Willing Hands for distribution. The plan is to set up space on Up on the Hill this spring and start planting around Memorial Day. Summer squash and zucchini, onions, potatoes, turnips, lettuce, butternut squash, carrots, cucumbers and peas are among the vegetables on the list. Marchione also watched the tomato start.

With a new project, new volunteers are needed. Last year at Brookmead, more than 70 people worked in the garden. Some came once; others are there every week. All contributions – no matter how much time – are important.

“If you have 10 to 15 people out there every week, that’s great, but they don’t always have to equal 10 to 15 people,” says Marchione. “The more volunteers we have, the basically better.”

UVLT staff plans to hold weekdays from 3 to 7pm at Up on the Hill Thursday, but schedules are subject to change depending on needs and weather. Volunteers will be given tasks including planting, weeding, watering and harvesting. Children under 16 are welcome to help, but must be accompanied by an adult. At Brookmead, several children volunteer with their grandparents, says Marchione.

“It’s great fun talking to them about the food, how it grows and how you cook it,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to talk with your kids about people who don’t have enough food and what they can do to help them.”

Apart from starting a park in Charlestown, UVLT is also expanding its program in Norwich. This year, they partnered with the Abenaki Land Link program, started by the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation’s Nulhegan Band and involving organizations Rooted in Vermont and NOFA-VT. The Nulhegan Ribbon from the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation will provide UVLT with two types of native beans and an Algonquian pumpkin for growing on expanded farms in Brookmead. Volunteers will then harvest the plants and give them back to the Nulhegan Band, which will be distributed to Abenaki residents.

Volunteers meet at Brookmead from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May through October.

Editor’s note: For more information about volunteering for the UVLT Food Pantry Garden Program or to apply, visit uvlt.org/food-pantry-garden.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3221.

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New Samaria Central Food Bank and expanded facilities underway | St. Community News Tammany | Instant News


The new Samaria Central Food Bank facility, expected to be operational by the close of 2021, will better position organizations to maintain services even when exposed to natural disasters themselves.

“This is something we can give to the next generation, to those who will be community stewards,” said Samaritan Center Executive Director Dena Grosart. “The Samaritan Center has always been a tremendous asset to the community, and we wanted to be a place where we could expand our services to meet the needs of the community, even when we were in an emergency ourselves.”

Grosart said the need to have updated facilities above the flood line hit homes after Hurricane Katrina flooded the current food bank facility, which is located in old Mandeville just two blocks from Lake Pontchartrain. He said volunteers and staff were heartbroken that the facility flooded and damaged food stores, stifling their efforts to help others.

“We have been beyond our space for years, and have dreamed of what we can build,” he said.

The Samaria Center began operations on March 10 for a two-story facility, over 4,000 square feet. Grosart said it will include several features to prevent service disruptions, even if there are hurricanes or other disasters. Among them, the building will be raised and will be equipped with a generator.

In addition, Grosart said the Mandeville Police would be equipped to access the building and distribute food if volunteers were unable to reach the food bank.

But Grosart says it’s the kitchen he likes the most. It will be state food safety certified and includes a separate area for preparing meat and vegetables plus an area that can be used for cooking classes.

At the new facility, volunteers will be able to separate large packages of vegetables, ground beef or chicken to share among multiple families. The current facility is too small for the job, said Grosart.

Grosart said he also envisions holding a gardening class, so Samaritan Center clients can learn how to supplement their diet with their own vegetables and easy recipes they can prepare themselves.

The new food bank will include a second floor largely devoted to food storage and Gran’s Attic, a thrift store adjacent to a food bank property that supports the Samaria Center services. The new building will also be equipped with a ramp so that all visitors, including persons with disabilities, can use the main entrance.

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The Samaria Center opened its doors in 1989 to offer emergency assistance to the Mandeville community and beyond. Apart from functioning as a food bank, it also offers recipe assistance, gas vouchers, rental and utility assistance, transportation assistance for low-income students and school supplies and uniforms.

In 2020, it will serve 3,259 families with 4,788 children, 6,636 adults and 1,252 seniors. They shipped nearly 2,000 food carts valued at over $ 11,000. The Samaria Center also helps with electricity bills, rent and other housing expenses for those in need.

While the organization works with the Second Harvesters Food Bank, The Samaritan Center gets most of its donations from schools, churches and individuals.

Grosart said when the pandemic hit, he naturally worried about maintaining supplies, especially with schools operating virtually. But he said churches, especially near Our Lady of the Lake, and others throughout the Mandeville area and individuals and schools continue to keep the organization available and able to serve.

The Samaria Center was set up to help in times of emergency, not long-term need, but he said the pandemic had created an emergency that lasted longer than others. However, the center has been able to cater to needy families, sometimes offering set meals twice a week.

That consistency would not have been possible without support from donors, he said.

“We never got to the place of crisis because of this community. We met our needs before we even had to ask for them. God really provides, “he said.

Grosart said the Samaritan Center could start a building project with current donations, but that the rest would have to be raised through a capital campaign. He will immediately begin enlisting the help of local churches, and later this year, a bricks program will be initiated to help with that effort.

Donations are being accepted now on the Samaritan Center website, www.samcen.org.

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Milwaukee police officers volunteer in soup kitchens, connecting with the community | Instant News


MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Police Officers Steve Keiller and Cody Cottreau started volunteering at the St Hyacinth Food kitchen a few months ago.

“We ended up storing the food, taking it out, giving it to the family and taking it to their car. And just reaching them, talking to them and getting to know these people,” Cottreau said of their stint in the food kitchen.

Their work in the pantry is part of the department’s community outreach program. Officials say that has allowed them to get in touch with members of the public who might not contact the police.

“Some of them are surprised to see us here. Like, ‘oh what are the police doing here?’ We’re just here to help, “said Keiller.

While volunteering, they saw a nine year old girl who always came by herself to fetch food for her family, asking only for meat and milk. Officers Cottreau and Keiller found this strange and decided to call. They found there were seven people in the family.

“So there was a lot of food to be given them for the week they didn’t receive. But because she walked over here without bringing food back, she always only asked for meat and milk,” Cottreau said.

That day, Officer Cottreau drove her several blocks back to her home with six to seven bags and a box of groceries. There, she found her disabled mother and other family members doing what they could to help.

“You can tell that sometimes they just need a little extra help, and that’s what we’re here for,” Cottreau said.

Officers Cottreau and Keiller wanted to help even more and make it easier for the young girl to fetch groceries.

“We have a cart so, you know, in the future if we’re not here or can’t give him a ride, he can take all that food home,” said Keiller.

They plan to surprise the family with a cart on Saturday. The family was not home at the time, so officers left the cart for them with a note.

They want others in the community to know they are there to help when needed.

“Maybe we can reach out to people who wouldn’t normally be helping and are actually just helping,” Cottreau said.

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