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Sunday, Dec 3, 2023

Kitchens Changes Lives Through Culinary Career Paths

Since its founding in 2014, Kitchens for Good, a nonprofit that tackles issues of food waste, poverty and hunger, has helped more than 300 individuals transition from incarceration, homelessness and foster care to careers in the culinary industry. For CEO Jennifer Gilmore, this is because the organization fully believes in second chances.

“When people have a troubled past or complicated life circumstances, they’re often deemed ‘unemployable’. As a result, they feel stuck (and) powerless to escape a life of poverty,” she said. “At Kitchens for Good, we equip individuals with the culinary skills they need to launch meaningful careers, so that they can move forward in life and make a positive impact on their communities.”

Supplying Surplus Food

To do this, Kitchens for Good teams up with the likes of Belmont Park, Bernardo Winery, Fireside by the Patio, Jimbo’s, the San Diego Convention Center, the USS Midway and True Food Kitchen, to list a few, from which Kitchens receives surplus and cosmetically flawed food. And, through its culinary apprenticeship program, that food is then turned into meals as well as used as a tool to train people to thrive in careers in food preparation businesses.

Catering Events

Kitchens for Good works with more than 500 local companies and nonprofit organizations, said Gilmore.

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“They consider us part of their social responsibility toolkit and have us cater their meetings, employee recognition events, holiday parties and (other) events,” she said. “In addition, they volunteer with us, hire our graduates, assist with outreach and support, and distribute the meals we prepare for kids and homebound seniors.”

87,516 Meals

As a result, in fiscal year 2017-2018, the organization prepared 87,516 meals that fed approximately 4,200 children, seniors and families across San Diego and it expanded its youth meals programs to serve more than 25,000 meals in afterschool and summer meal programs; Kitchens for Good generated $5 million in earned revenue through its catering enterprise, which caters more than 400 events a year; and, in the current fiscal year, Kitchens for Good is projected to rescue 50,000 lbs. of edible food that would otherwise go to the landfill this year, according to the company.

In order to keep pushing forward with its efforts to break the cycle of food waste, poverty and hunger, Kitchens for Good will be hosting an upcoming event called “WASTED: A Celebration of Sustainable Food”, on Oct. 20. It will feature 40 local and national chefs and mixologists who will prepare dishes and cocktails using food that would otherwise go to waste in their kitchens, said the nonprofit.

“The goal of the event is to bring awareness to sustainability for chefs and consumers, creating a call to action about rethinking food waste through culinary creativity,” reads the news release, adding that approximately 40% of edible food ends up in landfills in the United States (National Resources Defense Council), while one in eight in San Diego are food-insecure (Feeding San Diego). And, according to Gilmore, Kitchens for Good will open its third local kitchen in the near future.


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