Local nonprofit Kitchens For Good, which works to break the cycle of food waste, poverty and hunger through workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise, was one of 29 local nonprofits that have been granted more than $825,000 from Bank of America.
Bank of America San Diego last month announced the gifts that it hopes will help drive economic opportunity for individuals and families in the region.
BofA’s grants focus on workforce development and education to help people chart a path to employment and move toward better economic futures and life-long stability.
Kitchens for Good, which began operating in 2015, offers a tuition-free culinary apprenticeship with paid hours of training designed for people transitioning from incarceration, homelessness and foster care, while helping economically disadvantaged communities overcome food insecurity.
Its programs provide technical skills training, life coaching and career counseling, readying apprentices for careers in the hospitality industry. In addition, more than 100,000 nutritious meals are prepared annually by KFG to help San Diego families, seniors and students experiencing food insecurity.
BofA’s local grants are positioned to support job reskilling, alleviate food insecurity, help with affordable housing and shelter, youth education, employment and healthcare, and end domestic violence.
Rick Bregman, market president of Bank of America in San Diego, said that investing in nonprofits is one way the bank can help locally to remove barriers toward economic success and help build a more sustainable community.
SDEDC: Most Households Not ‘Thriving’
According to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the majority of households in the San Diego region are not “thriving.” That is, their incomes do not meet the expected costs of living in San Diego.
The EDC said that half of all San Diego homeowners don’t earn enough to cover their cost of living, while nearly 60% of renters fall short each year. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most households did not earn enough to meet the region’s expected cost of living.
“Investing in nonprofits addressing issues like job reskilling, food insecurity, affordable housing/shelter, youth employment and family services is part of our approach to driving economic opportunity and social progress in San Diego,” Bregman said.
Jennifer Gilmore, CEO of Kitchens For Good said that with the $100,000 investment from BofA, KFG will be able to launch a new apprentice program and an in-house staffing agency to oversee employment with partnering restaurants and commercial kitchens.
The new program, called WORKS, will position the organization to annually provide 500 San Diegans who “are often excluded from the workforce” with good-paying jobs and viable career opportunities, Gilmore said.
WORKS employer partners include Bartell Hotels, Rise and Shine Restaurant Group, San Diego State University and Omni Resort La Costa. Gilmore said that in April, KFG began employing all apprentices through WORKS and placing them as prep and line cooks with employer partners.
The ultimate hope is to create long-term success for those in the program, she said.
“The apprentice program and staffing agency will help ensure KFG apprentices are compensated fairly as their skills grow and help them establish a work history,” Gilmore said. “We’re helping set a disadvantaged population up for long-term success.”
Bregman said that Kitchens for Good’s culinary apprenticeship program “breaks the cycle of poverty by providing opportunities for people from marginalized communities… to learn and attain culinary careers.”
In addition to putting people on the path to financial success, Bregman said the program also aligns with another bank focus — alleviating food insecurity. Kitchens For Good participants prepare thousands of meals for San Diegans in need of food.
“In the end, our community benefits when we all work together to help people advance,” he said.
Other BofA local grantees include:
• Alpha Project for the Homeless
• Barrio Logan College Institute
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County
• Black Community Investment Fund
• Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater
• Center for Community Solutions
• Chicano Federation
• Goodwill of San Diego County
• Imperial Valley Food Bank
• Interfaith Community Services
• Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank
• Junior Achievement
• Just in Time for Foster Youth
• Lucky Duck Foundation
• Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty
• National Conflict Resolution Center
• National Veterans Transition Services Inc.
• Rady Children’s Hospital
• Reality Changers
• San Diego LGBTQ Community Center
• San Diego Mana
• San Diego Regional Chamber of
• San Diego County Economic
• San Ysidro Health Care Center
• St. Vincent De Paul Villages Inc.
• Support the Enlisted Project
• The Neighborhood House Association
The grants are the initial round of dollars directed to local nonprofits this year, with more to come throughout the year. Last year, Bank of America awarded $1.8 million in grants to local nonprofits. n