Summer Staple: Tuna Pasta Salad

Blog Post Written By: Briella Hirsch, UNH Sustainability Fellow

We have the perfect dish for you to bring to your next summer cookout or gathering! Many of these ingredients can be found at your local farmers’ market or farm stand. This colorful, flavorful, easy to make tuna pasta salad, will sure be a fan favorite. You can always switch up the recipe depending on what you have on hand and what is seasonally available to you where you live. Here is what you will need to recreate this dish. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for our Youtube video for this recipe. 




  • 1 box (16 oz) pasta
  • 3 cans (5 oz) tuna
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup tomatoes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup diced dill pickles
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper




  1. Cook pasta according to directions on the package. 
  2. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, red onion, tomato, pickles, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir well to combine.
  3. Stir in tuna.
  4. Once macaroni is cooked, drain well and rinse with cold water until pasta has cooled. Pour drained macaroni into a large bowl.
  5. Pour mayonnaise mixture onto pasta.
  6. Then add thawed peas. Stir well.
  7. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
  8. Put bowl into the fridge for a couple of hours, then serve.

Local Ingredients: If fresh peas are in season, which happens to be right now (June-July) you could swap the frozen peas for fresh ones. To find out what produce is in season during every month of the year click here to find our harvest calendar. You can currently find peas at your local farmers’ market, to find a farmers’ market near you click here. There are also local pasta varieties available at farm stands and farmers’ markets, Valicenti Pasta Farm happens to have many varieties to choose from. You could also make your own pickles or there are some wonderful canners locally including but not limited to Debbie D’s Homemade and Cassie’s Canning Cabinet. If you wanted to use fresh, local fish you could also substitute the canned tuna for a variety available from a fishery local to you, click here to learn more about local seafood.

Easy Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad

Blog Post Written By: Briella Hirsch, UNH Fellow

It’s official, we have kicked off our new pilot program, Refresh! We at Seacoast Eat Local are proud to be partnering with Whole Foods Market and Red’s Good Vibes to help connect SNAP and low-income recipients to healthy, locally sourced food. We all share the same belief that all people should have access to fresh, local produce and that is why we have come together to pursue that vision. 

REFRESH is an introductory subscription program that delivers biweekly shares of produce from a variety of farms and producers. More than supplying healthy, local food, the REFRESH program will educate low-income customers about the value of eating local food and connect them with resources that will help them become long-term customers of the farmers and producers in their community. REFRESH hopes to contribute to a thriving local food economy, supporting local agriculture and food access for all!

We are sharing this recipe on our blog as well as in the subscription box for the program. Today we have for you, a delicious lemon-garlic kale recipe as well as tips and tricks for preserving kale. Scroll to the bottom of this post for our new Youtube video of this recipe! 


  • -2 cups sliced almonds
  • -⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 4 lemons)
  • -Kosher salt
  • -1 ½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • -4 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat side of a knife, peeled and minced
  • -10 to 12 ounces washed and dried kale leaves, thick stems removed (weight after trimming)
  • -1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan (optional)



In a bowl, combine lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk in olive oil, add garlic and set aside.







Working in batches, cut the kale into thin ribbons: gather a large handful of leaves, bunch together tightly, and use the other hand to slice into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. This does not need to be done very precisely or neatly; the idea is to end up with a kind of slaw.





Place chopped kale in a very large bowl. Sprinkle surface with almonds and then with cheese, if using. Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss. Taste for dressing and salt and add more as needed, tossing to coat thoroughly. Serve within 1 hour.






How to Preserve Kale

Keep moisture at a minimum and store kale loosely in plastic bag or dish towel. You can preserve kale by making pesto and freezing it to use on sandwiches, pizza dough, pasta, or on veggies!

USDA Announces: All School Meals will be FREE Through June 2021

Written by Leila G., UNH Dietetic Intern

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, national school meal programs, like the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program, had been providing breakfast and lunch to roughly 30 million students from low-income families each day. These programs have played a crucial role in providing these children and teens with adequate nutrition who may not be receiving nutritious meals at home. 

Due to the pandemic, an overwhelming number of individuals in the country became unemployed, which has consequently resulted in many more people facing serious economic hardship. Immense stress has been placed upon families with children especially, as parents continue to juggle working remotely while caring for their children who are learning online from home. Food insecurity has also become a significant stressor, as there are now triple the number of households with children being classified as food insecure. Many of these households have already struggled, and now continue to struggle, to provide enough food for their families. 

Several months ago, shortly after the pandemic began, the USDA announced the nationwide meal waivers under the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, for all students under the age of 18. These waivers ensure the following: 

  • Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option meals can be served anywhere and at no cost
  • Group settings and mealtimes that are usually required are not pertinent to meals being served 
  • Meal pattern requirements are waived as necessary
  • Parents/caregivers can pick up meals for their children from any school site

The waivers were administered under these two programs as they offer greater flexibilities than the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. With this, many families were reassured that their children would be provided with nutritious meals at no cost. However, there were expiration dates on these waivers, as it had been indicated by the USDA that they would last till the end of 2020 or until funding ran out. This created question and uncertainty for families with children, school nutrition directors and administrators, child nutrition advocates, registered dietitians and other healthcare professionals, and more. Therefore, many of these individuals were pleased to see the USDA extend these waivers multiple times within the past few months, once to last till August 2020 and again, modified to last till December 2020. These extensions have allowed school districts to continue serving all school children free meals regardless of school enrollment. They also have allowed parents/caregivers to continue being able to pick up meals from any school site, rather than be required to only pick up from the school in which their child is enrolled in. 

About a month ago, on October 9th, the USDA announced that these waivers will again be extended throughout the 2020-2021 academic school year, specifically till June 2021. This update attempts to meet the hunger needs of all children as the nation continues to navigate through the pandemic. It also attempts to avoid placing more stress on school administration and eliminate stigma associated with receiving free (and/or reduced meals). 

This extension is a positive for sure, as school districts nationwide will be able to continue providing nutritious meals to children and teens. In some school districts, meal sites have been centralized in places such as churches or large apartment complexes. Meal sites have been placed at bus stops along bus routes and have even been delivered to homes. Even locally here in the Seacoast region, schools have made great efforts to feed students and provide them with the access they need to nutritious food. In fact, the City of Portsmouth has already updated their specific website regarding the recent waiver extension update, emphasizing free meals for all students and providing clear instructions on how families can continue to obtain these meals. Breakfast and lunch will continue to be served daily to students attending school in-person. And for families with remote learners, curbside pick-up at either the local middle or high school will continue to be available. The Rockingham County Food & Nutrition Services website also has clear indication on free school meals for all students and instructions for parents/caregivers on how to obtain these via curbside pickup for remote learners. The York School Department (YSD) has updated their Facebook page with information of the recent news, along with other resources on free school meals, and marketing lunches via aesthetically-pleasing photos of the food they continue to serve. YSD has also been providing the ability for students who are learning via the hybrid option to have breakfast and lunch sent home with them to last for a couple days until they attend in-person the next week. Similar to Rockingham and York county, Strafford County has also developed an organized system since the start of the pandemic to ensure nutritious meals are served to all students, utilizing several towns and locations within the county as sites. Many of the schools in these counties are utilizing an online customized meal order form, similar to grab-and-go services like DoorDash and Grubhub. It looks like these systems will continue to be used throughout the academic year.

However, there remains a question: are all the students who need school meals the most actually receiving them? It appears that despite these extraordinary efforts made by schools, counties, and towns, the participation rates remain quite low. Unfortunately, some schools, even here in the Seacoast region, are only providing curbside pickup on specific days of the week. This poses an issue for parents/caregivers who may not be able to pick up food on those days or even pick up meals at all, if they don’t have means of transportation. Schools allowing pick up for multiple days of meals in a single visit, like YSD, seems to be a minor solution, at least for the parents/caregivers who can pick up on at least one of the specific days. The nutrient-density of meals is also something to consider, as the grab-and-go-/delivery options previously mentioned are typically associated with packaged, processed foods, which can often be less fresh and less nutritious. 

Moving forward, more must be done. Schools have made attempts, but it’s going to require further innovative efforts to improve the issue of child hunger, especially as it relates to the pandemic’s impact. Schools need more funding as they continue to adapt to the new norm. Providing schools with more money will assist them in addressing the increasing rates of food insecurity and allow them to achieve better health outcomes for students and families, especially those who need it most. In a broader context, there needs to be more thought and resources put into improving protocol for school pandemic safety. Ultimately, if schools can fully reopen safely, they’ll be able to provide children access to free meals as it all once was.



COVID-19 and Local Food Access

The increase in unemployment has left many of our neighbors food insecure. Food insecurity is not a new problem, however it is growing more rapidly due to the increased rate of unemployment due to COVID-19. Some individuals may have never experienced the stress related to having to choose between paying for a place to live versus putting food on the table, but it is becoming increasingly more common. The good news is there are local resources to help those in need at this time. If you are familiar with other resources that are available but not listed please share in the comments. 

Food Access Resources

Listing of local food pantries

Do you have an excess of food in your garden? Click here for Food Pantries that accept fresh foods

Where you can use your SNAP benefits locally. 

Local Farmers’ Markets Schedule

Updates on our Winter Farmers’ Markets in Exeter and Rollinsford

NH Food Access Map was created to enable food access organizations to offer and list services and share them with the public. The map includes a directory of pantries/meals, local food discounts/benefits, nutrition assistance, and summer meals.

The New Hampshire Food Bank works to distribute millions of pounds of food to partner agencies each year. If you are in need of food, please contact your local Food Pantry or call the NH Food Bank SNAP Outreach Coordinator who can assist you in applying for SNAP (Food Stamps) at 603-669-9725 ext. 1147.

To sign up for SNAP go to

Gather is an agency committed to ending hunger in Seacoast, NH located in Portsmouth. Gather offers many services, a few include:

Gather’s Pantry market is open:



Please bring a photo ID + proof of residency. 

Meals 4 Kids is a program offered by Gather that is available to all school aged-children that are eligible for free or reduced school lunch. Each week children receive healthy ingredients and recipes for 10 meals.

Local Food Access News

The NH Food Bank in partnership with the NH Food Alliance, NH Farm Bureau and NOFA-NH  are proud to announce the pilot launch of “NH Feeding NH” a statewide initiative designed to support the purchase of NH grown food to feed our food insecure neighbors with nutritious locally grown produce throughout NH communities during COVID-19 and beyond, something we believe every Granite Stater should have access to.

While unemployment continues to rise, many restaurants, schools and farmers markets are closed across the state, which also means many of our farms have lost their outlet to sell their product. This program, modeled after our neighbors in Vermont and Maine, will not only support our local farmers, but will also help nourish communities in need.

SAMM, The Seacoast Area Mobile Market, is Seacoast Eat Local’s mobile market, and was the first mobile market of its kind in New Hampshire! This year, we’ve shifted the focus of SAMM to help meet the needs of people most affected by COVID-19. We’re purchasing fresh food from farmers that have lost sales outlets and are donating that food to area food pantries and senior housing communities.  This enables people who have no other option of getting fresh local food to their table an equitable opportunity to enjoy the local harvest. During the season, we’re reaching over 400 households per week. Thanks to our partners for the season: NH Charitable Foundation, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, Gather Food Pantry, and Tuckaway Farm.

Check out this great article written about SAMM. 


*All photos featured in this post were taken prior to COVID-19.

9 Reasons to Shop at Farmers’ Markets During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Shopping of any nature can seem like a daunting task on a normal day, and even more difficult during the COVID-19 crisis. Usually farmers’ markets are seen as a social event along with a food access point however this year things are a little different. Everyone is concerned with hygiene and sanitization in the pursuit of staying healthy and virus free, and farmers’ markets are no different. Here are nine reasons to shop at farmers’ markets during the COVID-19 pandemic and why they are among the safest and best places to grocery shop.

  1. Farmers’ market aisles are the widest of any market, indoors or out! This makes social distancing procedures easier to follow.
 Many markets are even mapping out the route customers should take through the market to keep traffic all heading in one direction. Vendors are spaced out so that it is easier for customers to shop at the same time with different vendors.
  2. You are buying from the farms and often times even the farmers who harvested the produce. 
This means that far fewer hands have handled the food overall reducing the risk of transmission by surface contamination.
  3. Shopping outdoors means you are in the healthiest air you can breathe! Indoor air systems recirculate their air and with it the virus.
  4. When this all done, you will want your local farmers growing things you like to eat
. When shopping outside your local network of producers (usually products from grocery stores or the internet) many other people are included in the process which increases the risk of transmission of any illness or contaminant.
  5.  It’s more fun, and more relaxed! When the social distancing restrictions are lifted you can meet so many amazing people and local producers at the market. Keeping the markets going means when this all passes you can enjoy all the things markets have to offer.
  6. The farmers’ market can be thought of as your pantry.  They have fresh food every week, so you can stock up slowly, and count on us to have food every market day
. You don’t have to worry about inventory shortages like the grocery store.
  7. The food is fresher
. The food is often harvested within a few days if not the same day as the market, whereas at the grocery store the food has traveled long distances.
  8. You are helping to keep many of your neighbors in business and supporting your local economy. When you buy locally you are putting money directly into the pocket of the local food producer where they can use it to support their families.
  9. Supermarkets have many staff members that handle everything from unpacking, stocking, ringing, bagging, and more. When you shop at the farmers’ market usually there isn’t more than 1-2 people per stall and usually they are the ones who packed the product and even harvested it!

To find markets scheduled near you click here.

SNAP Can Now Be Used at Some Farm Stands

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formally known as food stamps, has historically been accepted at grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and only a select amount of farm stands. However, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, it seems like we are going to see a shift to more farm stands/stores accepting SNAP/EBT, especially as farmers’ markets are delayed, reduced in hours and/or vendors, or cancelled.  Individuals on SNAP receive a monthly deposit onto their EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card in which they can use the funds to purchase food at the outlets listed above (online purchasing pilots are currently being tested in other states, but only for a specific set of larger commercial entities). SNAP eligibility is income driven and is a program to address food insecurity among low income individuals.

Resources available for individuals enrolled in SNAP/EBT services include the ability to receive a discount on fruit and vegetable purchases through Double Up Food Bucks and Granite State Market Match. By utilizing one of these services, you can essentially receive 50% off your fruit and vegetable purchases! At Seacoast Eat Local, we work with the New Hampshire Nutrition Incentive Network, who developed Granite State Market Match. Local farmers’ markets and farm stands/stores that participate in this program have the ability to offer this service (50% of fresh fruits and vegetables) to SNAP customers. If you are SNAP customer and interested in purchasing a CSA we also offer a great deal for a fruit/vegetable CSA from a farm of your choice. As of right now these are the farms accepting SNAP on the Seacoast:

Vernon Family Farm located in Newfields, NH

Heron Pond Farm located in South Hampton,NH

Clyde Farm located in Farmington, NH

Dog Rose Farm in Lee, NH

McKenzie’s Farm located in Milton, NH

Riverside Farm in Berwick, ME

Current changes are being made to policies related to SNAP and they may affect you if you are currently utilizing SNAP. The Families First Corona Virus Responce Act of 2020 was recently put into place to alleviate some of the food access and financial issues that have been associated with the COVID-19 crisis. The act implies that it: 

-Temporarily suspends the work and work training requirements for SNAP during this crisis.

-Temporarily removes the time limit on SNAP for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents.

-SNAP households will be receiving a one-time (at this time, however as the crisis continues there may be more) increase on their current monthly allotment up to the maximum allotment for a household that size. 

If you or someone you know is currently struggling with food insecurity, you can apply for benefits by visiting or call 1-844-275-3447. There are also other resources including food pantries in the area that are offering food to individuals and families in need. 

Food Pantries in NH

Food Pantries in ME

Food Pantries in MA

If you are a farm and have an operating farm stand or store and would like to offer SNAP/EBT services please contact us at


Two Recipes to Try While in Quarantine

Post by UNH Student and Seacoast Eat Local Intern, Chris G.

Having been a few weeks since Seacoast Eat Local’s winter markets have been operational due to social distancing practices related to COVID-19, I wanted to highlight a couple of great recipes. I have attempted to make or modify these recipes with food I have saved from past farmers markets, as well as smaller-scale local markets! As always, please remember to practice social distancing when you go out to shop for local food items, and enjoy!

Green Bean Pasta Salad

Recipe and Photo Credit:


12 ounces penne pasta,

1/2 pound French green beans,

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

5 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 cup finely chopped roasted salted pistachios, plus more for topping

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1 garlic clove (minced)

1 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups loosely packed arugula

Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Boil pasta, adding green beans to the pot for the last two minutes of cooking time. Rinse/drain when cooked. Next, toss pasta and green beans, thyme, and 3 teaspoons of lemon zest in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk in remaining ingredients, adding the olive oil last and at a slow rate. Drizzle mixture over pasta salad, and season with parmesan cheese.

Why am I a huge fan of green beans? While they boast a high nutrient density,  they also have a low calorie/energy density! This means you can eat a lot of green beans and consume minimal calories. Eating just one serving of green beans provides B Vitamins like Folate, Riboflavin and Niacin, as well as the minerals Iron and Magnesium. Iron deficiency is of concern to me personally, having multiple family members in my past deficient over the years. At the same time, B Vitamins play a host of roles in the body, including digestion, eye health, brain function, red blood cell formation and they support regulation of hunger.

In season availability: Green beans are in season from July to September, but are available in frozen or canned form year round. Arugula will be in season starting in May going through September, but may be available year round locally due to the use of high tunnels or other growing practices.

Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe and Photo Credit:



2 pounds peeled sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut sweet potatoes into sticks approximately ¼-inch wide and 3 inches long. Toss in olive oil. Next, toss in a mix of garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Spread fries onto a baking sheet and and bake approximately 10 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Finally, allow fries to cool. Enjoy!

Sweet potatoes are among some of the most beneficial root vegetables you can incorporate in your diet. A serving provides you quadruple the recommended amount of Vitamin A for the day, and over 50% of Vitamin C! Additionally, the roughage from the skin of the potato provides for an excellent source of fiber, and the natural sugars within the fries pair excellently with the savoriness of the spice added. Additionally, baking them to a golden brown adds a crisp texture.

In season availability: Sweet potatoes are available over the winter months when stored correctly, you can learn more about produce shelf life and storage by visiting Chris’ last post here.

As always, if you are looking for a specific farm or food product you can use the Seacoast Harvest search tool.

A Spotlight on Salami

Salami also known as salame has a history that predates ancient Rome. Salami as a term refers to any form of encased meat, but is most commonly a pork sausage, pork blended with pork fat and a variety of spice mixes. Different types of salami can not only vary in flavor but also the part of the pig that is used to create it. Salami can be in fresh, cook, or dry-cured varieties and should look compact with a red or pink dominant color with speckles of white fat throughout. When cut, the fat should stay within the slice and not separate. Seasonings can vary and may include salt, pepper, garlic, fennel, wine, cinnamon, and many more. All the ingredients are mixed together and formed into the shape of a sausage, it is then encased and stored in a dark, cool place to age depending on the variety. Once stored, fermentation begins and that is how the salami continues to gain its flavor. When kept in a dark cool place, the salami can have a long shelf life. Another way to increase shelf life is to add coriander as a spice to the salami mix.

When preparing to eat, soft or cooked varieties should be sliced thin and hard or aged should be cut thick.  Depending on the variety, salami can be served in a number of ways including on a pizza, in a sandwich, on a charcuterie board, as antipasto, and many other ways. Different types of salami include but are not limited to chorizo, ciauscolo, finocchiona, genoa, kulen, pepperoni, and soppressata. The United States even has a salami capital, San Francisco. This is because the humid weather is the perfect environment to cure meat. Salami is both high in fat and protein, and the carbohydrate content depends on the additives in the mix. B vitamins are plentiful in salami however, it has a very high amount of sodium so it should be consumed in moderation. Similar to other fermented foods like kimchi or kombucha salami offers beneficial bacteria to the diet. You can purchase salami from Short Creek Farm and at some of these local markets.

A Spotlight on Honey

Honey has been around since the start of written history and most likely before that however there is not records prior. Since 2100 B.C.  it has been recorded as the first commonly used sweetener by humans. The first record is in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings and writings from Egypt and India. In years past it was used as currency, to make cement, polish and varnish, and in medicine.

Honey does not spoil and is best kept in a cool location out of sunlight. It is mostly sugar but does have some antioxidants depending on the bees and plants is comes from. There are different types of honey depending on the type of flower the bees go to. Some examples include lavender, clover, acacia, chestnut, sage, and many others. Honey can go threw different production and can be created into liquid in raw and pasteurized varieties, it can be in honeycomb, and also whipped. Honey can be used in many different recipes including baked goods, marinades, and can be added to tea.
Honey begins as nectar collected from flowers by bees. The bees then store the nectar in their honey stomachs. Those bees regurgitate the nectar into the hive and give it to worker bees. The worker bees then evaporate the water in the nectar by swallowing and regurgitating until the water content is lower. Once the water content of the nectar is lowered it is considered honey.
Honey can be found at you local farmers’ markets and from these farms.

A Spotlight on Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is made by tapping maple trees and collecting the sap. The sap is then boiled until it becomes thicker and resembles a syrup. The sap is clear and looks almost like water but when boiled the brown color comes out. Once boiled the syrup is then filtered to remove any sediment, and that is how the smooth textured maple syrup is created. North Eastern Native Americans were the first known to make maple syrup. European settlers learned how to tap maple trees from indigenous tribes.

Maple trees make sugar in the summer and the starch is stored in the roots over the summer. The trees are then tapped for sap in mid-February to mid-March. Sap collection ends when temperatures stay above freezing or when the trees start to produce buds. 80% of the world’s maple syrup is actually made in Quebec, Canada. Maple syrup can be either grade A or grade B depending on the color of the syrup. Grade A can be either light amber, medium amber, or dark amber. Grade B is the darkest maple syrup available and is created from sap that is collected later in the season. It has a stronger maple flavor and is commonly used in baking, whereas grade A is usually drizzled over food like pancakes.

Maple syrup isn’t only a sugary treat, it is a great source of manganese and riboflavin. It also contains calcium, thiamin, copper, and potassium. However, the sugar content is very high, 1/3 cup supplies about 60 grams of sugar! With this high of a sugar content, maple syrup should be consumed in moderation. You can find maple syrup at your local farmers’ markets.