Yesterday I went out to the Rockaways in Queens, an area that was devastated by hurricane Sandy. The power is still out, the roads are filled with sand and emergency vehicles, and the curbs are heaped with ruined household goods, irreparably damaged from flooding. I’ve ever been in a disaster area before, and it’s a shocking sight.
I went with a group of people who were organized by the Occupy Sandy Relief effort, and the turnout and organization were incredible. We were set up in a gymnasium, whose backdoor looked out onto piles of debris, and just beyond that, the ocean. Hundreds of people from other neighborhoods were there pitching in with clean-up and construction, and sorting food, clothing, cleaning supplies, and even stuffed animals. We distributed the donated goods to neighborhood families who lost most of their possessions and are living in cold, dark houses and apartment buildings.
Because there is still no electricity here, we had to make do with a few hanging lights powered by generators, and flashlights. Area residents wandered in, most in family groups, looking for clothing and supplies. It was hard to see, but it all worked out, somehow. The highlights of my day were helping a man find shirts, socks, and a hat in his size, and helping a girl find a teddy bear for her little brother.
Next time I go out, I hope to help provide food. I noticed a lot of trail-style bars with the donated food, a practical idea because most food needs to be grab-and-go under these conditions. Below is a recipe for homemade trail bars, easy and full of protein. These are what I’ll make for the next time I go out to help. If you’re looking to volunteer, Occupy Sandy Relief has a live feed of updated info about where and how to help.
Homemade Trail Bars
- Canola oil or butter
- 3 c rolled oats
- 4 c puffed kamut or crisp rice
- 2 c dried fruit, roughly chopped
- 2 c nuts, roughly chopped
- 1⁄2 c wheat germ
- 2 c bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 c evaporated cane juice
- 1 c brown rice syrup
- 1 c almond or peanut butter
- 1 t vanilla extract 1⁄2 t salt
Lightly grease a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet with oil or butter. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cereal, dried fruit, nuts, and wheat germ; set aside.
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Add the cane juice, brown rice syrup, nut butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir the mixture until smooth and heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a spatula. Coat your hands with oil or butter and mix until the dry ingredients are fully coated with the chocolate.
Pour the mixture into baking sheet, cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, and press down. Use a rolling pin to press it out to the corners of the baking sheet.
Allow to cool, then slice into bars. Wrapped well or stored in an airtight container, the bars can last for up to a month in the fridge.