Cookbook brings company, families together while helping food bank

I like to cook, but I get in a rut. Every week, it seems that I prepare the same meals for my family over and over again. That is why I was really excited when I got my hands on Recipes From the Heart, a cookbook by the employees of U.S. Foodservice.

In honor of my husband’s grandmother who would have turned 89-years-old last year, I tried the recipe for Chicken and Never-Fail Dumplings. It appealed to me because I already had all the necessary ingredients, and it called for using the Crock Pot. With the crisp, cool mornings and my busy schedule, using the crock pot sounded like a great idea.

While the kitchen was filled with the wonderful aroma of chicken, celery and onions simmering, I flipped through the dessert section of the cookbook, the thickest part of the book. That’s my kind of cookbook! I couldn’t resist trying the Pumpkin Cake. The cake wasn’t in the oven for 15 minutes before I heard the pitter-patter of feet running upstairs from the basement.

“What smells so good?” my always hungry 8-year-old son, Philip, asked. It must have smelled good to tear him away from his Nintendo DS Lite.

Not only did the dishes smell good, but they also tasted great, if I do say so myself.

“This is awesomely awesome,” my 10-year-old daughter, Erin, said as she asked for seconds on the chicken and dumplings.

“This is yumiful,” my 3-year-old daughter, Gretchen, said as she licked her fork covered with icing from the Pumpkin Cake.

Recipes From the Heart withstood the first test of pleasing the family. The cookbook also scored points in the entertainment department. All the recipes came from employees of U.S. Foodservice and most of them have a story about the recipe. Some of these messages are humorous, like how the Ooey Gooey Cake recipe got its name. Some of the messages are sentimental, like why the recipe for Five-Bean Chili was important to the cook’s family.

The best thing about Recipes from the Heart is that the proceeds from the sale of the cookbook go to America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s food bank network.

“We’re trying to raise $1 million to help Second Harvest throughout the country,” said Debbie Christensen, vice-president of human resources for the Knoxville Division of U.S. Foodservice.

Christensen said all the recipes from the cookbook were tested in the U.S. Foodservice kitchens. The cookbook is bringing the national company together because when one employee tries a recipe submitted by another co-worker in a different division in another part of the country, they email the person to compliment them on the delicious dish, Christensen said.

The Knoxville Division of U.S. Foodservice employs approximately 300 people and has been servicing hospitals, schools and local restaurants for more than 50 years.

According to Christensen, the money raised through cookbook sales in the area stay to help the local Second Harvest food bank. The cost of each cookbook is $24.95 each.

“We would like to get more money into the local Second Harvest food bank,” Christensen said. To purchase Recipes From the Heart, contact Christensen at

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