FOOD WASTE AS A POWERFUL TOOL TO EMPOWER

apples
​There’s an excitement growing about the topic of food waste, and how to reclaim and use the staggering amount of food that is wasted due to cosmetic imperfections. Each day a new story or Internet meme comes out about these adorable ugly fruit and their alternative uses.  But, it’s critical that we don’t see food waste just as fuel for the body or a resource to consume.  Here at Kitchens for Good, we use food waste as a tool to empower, uplift, educate and employ.  We do this through culinary job training, engaging hard to employ populations like formerly incarcerated individuals, youth aging out of foster care and individuals leaving rehab, to prepare surplus food that might otherwise go to waste into healthy meals for the hungry.We believe that food is simply too good to waste. However, in the United States, 40% of all food produced goes unused. Half of that consists of fresh produce that has cosmetic imperfections or lacks commercial demand. We work directly with farmers and wholesale companies to purchase and rescue fruits and vegetables that are cosmetically imperfect or surplus.

By preparing squishy tomatoes or oversized zucchini into healthy meals, we are not only addressing issues of hunger and food waste in our community, but we are empowering students to launch their careers in the culinary industry.  This model gives both ugly produce and individuals a so-called ‘second chance’ at becoming productive and valuable to society. It is a model that embraces the idea that all food, and all people have value when you uncover it and look past the outer façade.

In our first year of operations, Kitchens for Good will rescue over 30,000 pounds of produce, prepare over 40,000 meals for food insecure in the community, and prepare 80 men and women for careers in the culinary industry.

New Day New Way Soirée

New Day New Way Soirée

On January 15, 2016, Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events, in collaboration with the City of Encinitas, was proud to sponsor the New Day New Way Soirée at the Encinitas Community Center. This free event was to promote the new healthy meals that Kitchens for Good is providing daily for seniors in the Encinitas community.

Five hundred guests including Lisa Schaefer with the Encinitas City Council and Supervisor Dave Roberts were all served tasty bites prepared by our chefs in our in-house kitchen located in The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. We highlighted local farmers, including Coastal Roots Farm and the Farm Lab, which provided fresh produce for our appetizers. We featured some delicious dishes that exemplify the gourmet and tasty meals that we provide in our daily lunches.  The menu included various food stations that comprised of a shredded baby lettuce and kale salad with carrot, cucumber, radish, tomato; a composed salmon dish with citrus glazed salmon atop of sautéed Swiss chard with herbed brown rice and quinoa; a stir-fry station with chicken, tofu, and assorted veggies.

Lining up for our chef’s creations!

 

Jennifer Gilmore, Supervisor Dave Roberts, Aviva Paley

 

Local band, Bull Twist provided live music while everyone chatted, danced, and enjoyed our delicious farm-to-table food.

 

We gave away customized raffle prizes that included picnic baskets for those who love to hike or spend the afternoon at their favorite beach.

 

Through this event, we debuted our new service we are providing at the Encinitas Community Center that is becoming a model for healthy meal services in the region.  Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events delivers exceptional meal services that prioritize client choice, nutritious food, and local produce.  Meals are made from scratch daily, with menus carefully reviewed to ensure optimal nutrition for the older adult population. Please join us every Monday through Friday at the City of Encinitas Community and Senior Center to enjoy fresh, tasty food that is served at 11:45 am. Make your reservation by calling 760-943-2258.

We hope to see you there!

Written by Jessica Dearborn

Harvesting Community Relationships

 

Fresh Produce Provided by Coastal Roots Farm

Fresh Produce Provided by Coastal Roots Farm

On Friday, October 23, 2015, Kitchens for Good Catering and Events, a full event and catering service company in San Diego, Ca, were proud to cater the third annual Let’s Go Local! Produce Workshop. The event was organized by Community Health Improve Partners (CHIP) and hosted at the Leichtag Foundation Ranch located in Encinitas, CA.

The Produce Workshop serves as a way for vendors, growers and produce distributors to feature their products and services to businesses, community members, local government and other entities. This event provides a unique setting to connect with and create business relationships, offer sources for healthier, local produce, build community and to explore new partnerships.

“Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP) works throughout San Diego County to advance solutions to priority health needs through collaboration and community engagement. CHIP works to create a healthy, sustainable, and just food system because it is now clear that the health of the food system is inextricably tied to the health of people, our local economy, and the environment.”

The farm provided the backdrop as an inspiring environment that set the mood. By utilizing the already beautiful surroundings, it was transformed into a charming event space. There’s something to be said about creating an outdoor event that allows for community relationships to grow and enriching ideas shared.

Puff Pastries with Garlic Crème Fraiche and Local Cherry Tomatoes

Puff Pastries with Garlic Crème Fraiche and Local Cherry Tomatoes

To highlight the event’s mission, Kitchens for Good Catering and Events was provided with fresh produce (tomatoes, zucchini, chard and herbs) from Coastal Roots Farm, the community farm located on site at the Leichtag Foundation Ranch. The tables were set with a menu that complimented the day’s agenda—Crostini with Tomato Fennel Jam, Mint Pea Soup Shooters, Puff Pastries with Garlic Crème Fraiche and local cherry tomatoes.

Aviva Paley, Director of Programs for Kitchens for Good Catering and Events said, “We were pleased to be a part of this event as it is core to our mission to support the local farming community by buying local. Hopefully many of the connections KFG made with farmers at the event will lead to an ongoing buyer relationship for our kitchen endeavors.”

The Kitchens for Good offices, internal event spaces and kitchen are located in the Jacob’s Center for Neighborhood Innovation in San Diego, Ca. We only serve locally sourced, fresh ingredients and offer high-quality meal options that bring catering to a whole new plateau. We infuse our passion for cooking with healthy, farm-to-table produce and enjoy catering events like this because it allows us to demonstrate our seasonal menus while supporting a cause we love.

Kitchens for Good Catering and Events is the social enterprise arm of Kitchens for Good, a non-profit whose mission is to “break the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise.”

“Alice in Wonderland” themed Quinceañera


Alice in Wonderland Cake


Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events
hosted a beautiful quinceañera at our facilities located in The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation on December 5, 2015. In attendance that day were 230 guests who were all there to honor their family member and friend on her special day.

 

Alice in Wonderland Quinceañera

 

Held in our ­­­­­­­­­­­­Celebration Hall, that has a capacity of 500, we were able to provide plenty of room for everyone to eat and dance the night away. We worked with some of our specialty vendors to provide the décor, desserts, music, and a picture booth while our catering staff prepared fresh food in our in-house kitchen.

Quinceañera

 

THE THEME

Alice in Wonderland Quinceañera 

Our client worked with Party Forever to create an Alice in Wonderland theme for her quinceañera. Just as Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, emerging with new wisdom, a quinceañera is a girl’s entry into womanhood and her own newfound wisdom.

 


THE MENU

Our professional catering team created a mouthwatering, customized menu that our guests thoroughly enjoyed. On the menu that evening was a house salad with balsamic vinaigrette, chicken breast stuffed with spinach, mushroom and ricotta, chicken demi, chef select seasonal vegetables, roasted garlic smashed potatoes, served with fresh dinner rolls.

THE ENTERTAINMENT

DJ Nando Worked His Magic with the Sound, Lights and Entertainment

 

 

CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

“What a fantastic event. The food was delicious; venue was perfect, DJ made the party happen with a great mix of music.”

 

“This place is great. A lot of parking is available.”

 

“The look is magical.”

 

“This is exactly what I had envisioned and hoped for.”

Alice In Wonderland Quinceañera
Alice in Wonderland Cupcakes
Alice in Wonderland Cupcakes

 

 

Kitchens for Good Catering and Events is the social enterprise arm of Kitchens for Good, a non-profit whose mission is to  “break the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise.”

Every event you book with Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events supports culinary job training for the unemployed and healthy meals for those in need.

Written By Jessica Dearborn

November Plays

November 18th kicked off an theatrical weekend here at Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events as we had the honor of setting up for two fabulous plays: Much Ado About Nothing, written by William Shakespeare and directed by Rob Melrose, Artistic Director of San Francisco’s Cutting Ball Theater; and Gill Sotu’s world premiere of H.E.R.O.E.S. These two theatre performances were held in Celebration Hall, a versatile banquet facility with a stage, theatre lighting and sound, and capacity to seat 1000 guests. These events brought a wide cross-section of the local community to enjoy theatre in the heart of South-East San Diego.

Gill Sotu is a Jacobs Center artist-in-residence and award-winning poet. Set in the near future, H.E.R.O.E.S. tells the story of a desperate father doing the unthinkable in order to provide better opportunities for his children.

H.E.R.O.E.S.

 

Much Ado About Nothing is an Old Globe Theater production that is a part of their Globe for All tour. “Globe for All returns to bring free professional Shakespeare directly to diverse, multigenerational audiences in underserved communities around San Diego County.”

 

Much Ado About Nothing

 

Both performances were hosted by Jacob’s Center for Neighborhood Innovation in San Diego, California as a part of their Jacobs Presents community endeavor. “From cultural performances and celebrations to hit jazz artists and renowned performing arts organizations, Jacobs Presents has something for everyone! Bring the family for fun free events or enjoy a special date night with dinner and drinks at one of our dynamic concerts.”

We were very pleased with both of the evenings turn out and performances! It was a pleasure to be able to partner with the Old Globe Theater, Gill Sotu and the Jacob’s Center in presenting these creative and talented productions for all to enjoy!

Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events is the social enterprise arm of Kitchens for Good, a non-profit whose mission is to  “break the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise.”

 

Written by Jessica Dearborn

San Diego Workforce Conference

 

CREATING COHESIVE PARTNERSHIPS

On November 5th the team at Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events had the pleasure of hosting the San Diego Workforce Conference – Identifying, Tackling and Closing the Skills Gap, presented by the San Diego Workforce Partnership. This full day conference and sit down luncheon took place at the Jacob’s Center for Neighborhood Innovation in San Diego, California, in Celebration Hall, our banquet hall offering 6 break-out rooms, soaring ceilings, and full AV capabilities.

With breaking the cycle of unemployment and poverty so core to our mission at Kitchens for Good, we were thrilled to be part of such an important event. Five-hundred people gathered to participate in a discussion on an in depth look at newly released labor market information and regional workforce development initiatives underway across San Diego County, a topic that was especially beneficial for finding partners and forming strategic alliances.

The panel’s moderator was Tina Ngo Bartel, Director of Business Programs and Research at the San Diego Workforce Partnership. The topics discussed were: Identifying the Skills Gap, Tackling the Skills Gap and Closing the Skills Gap.

While attendees were enjoying lunch that was prepared by our skilled chefs in our in-house kitchen, the Honorable Kevin Faulconer, Mayor, City of San Diego “Welcomed the attendees and shared the City of San Diego’s support and commitment to connecting job seekers to our regional innovation economy. He also talked about his support of efforts to lower the youth unemployment rate. Mayor Faulconer is a strong supporter of CONNECT2Careers, our youth employment program. He spoke of his first job as a paper boy and how first jobs make a difference in career paths and work-readiness skills that can last a lifetime.” Heather Milne Barger, Vice President of Communications at San Diego Workforce Partnership said.

Aviva Paley, Director of Programs of Kitchens for Good, was one of the few selected to give a Lightning Talk to share with the crowd about its new Culinary Job Training Program and its plans to close the skills gap in this field. In four short minutes Aviva excited the audience about the possibility of kitchens to transform people’s lives and careers.

Aviva Paley, Director of Programs

 

The event’s menu far surpassed the attendees expectations which included some of our specialty foods: house rolls; grilled Mediterranean vegetables; a mixed-green salad with poached pear, gorgonzola cheese, candied walnuts and white balsamic vinaigrette; Origins Hummus with grilled pita bread; herb roasted potatoes; with lemon-herb chicken and Mediterranean beef tips, both served with grilled onion and peppers.

 

 

This event exemplifies the great use of this space for conferences and large meetings—with room to seat 500 people at round tables, state of the art audio visual, and gourmet event food that one participant tweeted as “The best event food I ever had!”

Tina Ngo Bartel said “The staff at Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events is easy to work with, very accommodating. Attendees gave raving reviews of the food. Everybody thought it was the best food at one of our conferences.” She also commented that “The food is affordable and helps a good cause.”

Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events is a full service catering and event company with our offices, internal event spaces and kitchen located in the Jacob’s Center for Neighborhood Innovation in San Diego, CA. We serve locally sourced, fresh ingredients and offer high-quality meal options that bring catering to a whole new plateau. We infuse our passion for cooking with healthy, farm-to-table produce and enjoy catering events like this because it allows us to demonstrate our seasonal menus while supporting a cause we love.

Kitchens for Good, Catering and Events is the social enterprise arm of Kitchens for Good, a non-profit whose mission is to “break the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise.”

Written by Jessica Dearborn

Nonprofit to Fight Poverty, Food Waste

Kitchens for Good to launch food reclamation, culinary classes

sdtribune

San Diego Union Tribune | Gary Warth | 3 p.m. Oct. 10, 2015

ENCANTO — Reducing food waste, preparing healthy meals for the needy and teaching job skills to people with special challenges sound like the goals of several government agencies, but one ambitious nonprofit plans to tackle all three.

“There were people doing parts of this, but very few doing the whole of it and making it interconnected,” said Chuck Samuelson, president of Kitchens for Good. “We’re trying bring together a system and a collaboration of organizations where we can all do much better by working together.”

Samuelson founded the nonprofit in 2014 after working the previous two years as the senior manager of food services at Stone Brewing Company.

Motivated to end the waste he saw during a lifelong career in hospitality, Samuelson said he wants to divert food away from landfills and into healthy meals for underserved communities. He also wants to create jobs as a long-term solution to hunger and poverty, and do it all through an organization that doesn’t rely on grants or donations to operate.

“It’s kind of trite, but we want to be part of the solution that ends hunger,” Samuelson said. “And it really is about creating good paying jobs for people. That’s the way you eventually end hunger. You lift people’s economic status by giving them jobs.”

The venture got off the ground about three weeks ago when Kitchens for Good took over the catering contract at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation at 404 Euclid Ave., about a 10 minute drive from downtown San Diego.

Chuck Samuelson, founder and president of Kitchens for Good, talks about the nonprofit's plans to start a food-reclamation program, meal distribution project and culinary school. — Peggy Peattie

Chuck Samuelson, founder and president of Kitchens for Good, talks about the nonprofit’s plans to start a food-reclamation program, meal distribution project and culinary school. — Peggy Peattie

Since setting up shop, the nonprofit’s 28 staff member have catered about 35 events in the center’s 600-seat hall and five off-site events. On Oct. 1, the nonprofit began delivering 45 daily meals to its first contracted client, the Encinitas Senior Center.

“They are thrilled that they’re now getting fresh, local, healthy wonderful food instead of the standard American meal that the seniors typically get,” Samuelson said. “Canned fruit, frozen vegetables and things that you don’t even recognize as entrees.”

The nonprofit pays retail price for top-tier produce from local growers to make the catered meals. Money generated from catering will help fund classes, food distribution and food reclamation projects that will begin in the next couple of months.

Jennifer Gilmore, former executive director of Feeding America San Diego, was appointed executive director of Kitchens for Good last month.

Aviva Paley, a former food justice fellow with the Leichtag Foundation, is helping with fundraising and putting the educational component together as the foundation’s director of programs and development.

Gilmore said she has worked with three food banks and seen tons of food go to waste because it was blemished, bruised or somehow unfit to distribute to clients.

“There was one week where we had to throw out about 20,000 pounds of overripe tomatoes,” she said. “”And the next week, I signed a check for $17,000 so we could purchase tomato sauce. I was sick to my stomach.”

About 140,000 tons of food are dumped at the Miramar Landfill each year, according to San Diego environmental Services Department.

Executive cook Darren Street sautees grilled chicken in onions, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and garlic before adding spinach and pasta for a meal designated to go for lunch at an Encinitas senior center. — Peggy Peattie

Executive cook Darren Street sautees grilled chicken in onions, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and garlic before adding spinach and pasta for a meal designated to go for lunch at an Encinitas senior center. — Peggy Peattie

Samuelson said the amount of discarded food used to be even higher until food reclamation projections began about a decade ago. Still, much food is going to waste, often just because of its appearance, he said.

“You give me bruised apples, I’ll give you apple sauce, apple jelly, apple pies,” he said. “I make a terrific apple jelly called Apple of my IPA that has Stone Brewing Company IPA in it, and just a little bit of jalapeño pepper to give it a bite. I look at food of any kind as a resource, and I hate waste.”

Gilmore said Kitchens for Good will hire a food procurement staff member in the future to work with farmers and wholesalers to acquire produce that otherwise might be plowed over or discarded. Until then, she said she has been working with the San Diego Farm Bureau to find a right price that will incentivize farmers to sell the produce at a discount.

Samuelson said he also will work with gleaners, groups that go into fields to pick produce overlooked by farmers. The nonprofit staff members also have met with a retailer who may supply blemished fish that won’t be sold to markets or restaurants.

The reclaimed food will be used in Project Launch, a 13-week free educational program that will begin in January with 10 students. Later sessions will have 20 students, and Samuelson said he expects 80 students will have gone through the program by the end of the fiscal year in July.

Paley said students in the program will be referred from groups that include organizations that work with youths aging out of foster care, the San Diego County Probation Department and Second Chance, which helps low-income people to acquire job skills.

“We see kitchens as this place that can change lives,” Samuelson said. “It changed mine. I’m one of nine kids with a single mom. I was a high-school dropout. Kitchens gave me a way up. I started out as a dishwasher and I’ve owned restaurants, catering businesses, and did consulting.”

Besides learning culinary skills, students also will learn resume writing, interviewing techniques, financial literacy and conflict resolutions, all designed to help them get and keep jobs.

Food produced by the students will go into yet another program, Project Nourish, that will distribute meals to food-insecure communities directly and through a partnership with Feeding America San Diego.

Samuelson said he expected 30,000 meals to be served by the end of the fiscal year.

The nonprofit launched with about $350,000 in seed money from individual donations and gifts from Kaiser Permanente, the Westreich Foundation, California FreshWorks and the Leichtag Foundation, will also will provide produce from the former Ecke Ranch property it owns in Encinitas.

Gilmore said the bulk of Kitchens for Good’s budget will come from the $1.4 million it expects to take in from catering. While the nonprofit will continue fundraising as a way to expand its programs, she said the nonprofit is expected to be self-sufficient in 48 months.

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