Free jam for the poor balances PB, bread surplus

Wander the aisles at your local food bank, and if there's jams or jellies it's likely the variety begins and ends with "grape." Chutneys? Perhaps, if there's an Indian or Southeast Asian food manufacturer nearby, and they've sent their overstock. Not so in Philomath, Oregon. Try this: local kiwi jam. Green tomato chutney. Pomegranate-blueberry jelly. Low-sugar jams perfect for diabetics (and good too). Fresh raspberry jam...

For in Philomath, Oregon, there is Sara Power and her Jamming for the Hungry volunteer organization. Using a commercial kitchen at a nearby church, she takes donated fresh fruit, overripe fruit, fruit juices, and surplus from local food banks and creates wonders more accustomed to tea and crumpets at the Waldorf than an emergency food box.

The local residents in need of food aid are thrilled with her efforts, and local farmers and gardeners are happy to have their extra fruit go to good use. And best of all, her contributions -- and those of the many volunteers who assist her on Monday nights in the kitchen at Corvallis' First United Methodist Church -- set right an unusual imbalance in food bank donations. For some reason, food manufacturers, grocery stores, and charitable organizations and individuals give lots, and lots, of peanut butter and bread to food banks. But not jam.

So each week, Power and the Jamming for the Hungry crew tip the scale a little back toward equilibrium. PB & (really delicious) J for the poor: and all is well.