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Community Connection: Kitchen Maven's Recipes To Fight Hunger

As the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic reached their peak in 2020 and 2021, many of us began to ask the question: How can I help?

For Judith Berman-Yamada, this simple question ultimately led to a serious investment in the Tillamook-area community. With a background in mediation, culinary services, counseling, journalism and more, Judi began researching food insecurity in her area. What she found was a rapid rise in the number of individuals and families facing hunger along the coast in recent years — a trend that was only intensified by the pandemic and the rising cost of food and housing.

The challenges were significant, yet Judi also saw an opportunity to make a difference. Drawing on her diverse background and love for cooking, Judi arrived at a tangible and accessible way to address the increased need for food assistance and other essential resources in Tillamook County: Kitchen Maven.

Any of us can find ourselves in situations like these. I’m financially secure now, in a loving relationship, and my children are grown with their own children. Fortunes can change in a moment, so why not at least try to uplift others when we can?

Judith Berman-Yamada, Kitchen Maven, Tillamook

In addition to a library of recipes and advice delivered under the Kitchen Maven pen name, Judi published “Thrifty Comfort Cooking for Challenging Times” — a cookbook written to inspire thrifty, simple, wholesome cooking and aid in the growing demand for healthy food resources.

“Access to nourishing food is difficult for countless people all over the world — including Tillamook County. My inspiration for the cookbook was the folks experiencing food insecurity,” Judi notes in the opening of her book. “The intent is to share recipes that are easily adaptable and provide tips to assist anyone who’s inspired to really cook and easily prepare healthier meals with whatever they have on hand.”

Finding inspiration in her own lived experience and a shared mission to end hunger and its root causes, Judi donates 100% of author royalties from “Thrifty Comfort Cooking for Challenging Times” to Oregon Food Bank - Tillamook County Services. The ongoing support is intended to help ensure that everyone in the area has access to nutritious food, year round.

“I’ll never forget when — as a young single parent with no vehicle — I’d look for produce left by the gleaners each week. Sometimes we would be so limited on food that I would opt to have tea and oatmeal so my toddler could have meat and vegetables,” Judi shares. There was also a time when I had to walk to my restaurant job, two miles each way, to make ends meet. The free meal [during those shifts] was a huge bonus for a struggling single parent.”

Copies of “Thrifty Comfort Cooking for Challenging Times” can be purchased through Powell’s Books, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers. Tillamook-area residents and visitors can find the cookbook at Food Roots Marketplace.

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