Putting Local Surplus Fish to a Great Use

A Partnership between Kitchens for Good and Fish. Food. Feel Good.

Here at Kitchens for Good, we are all about finding ways to use local unused resources to feed hungry families in our community. That’s why we are so excited about our new partnership with Fish. Food. Feel Good.(F3G).  F3G is a like-minded organization that collects locally caught unwanted sport caught fish and distributes it to hunger relief organizations throughout San Diego. Just recently F3G donated 250lbs of Yellowfin Tuna to Kitchens for Good located in Chollas Creek, San Diego. With that ample amount of locally caught fish, we were able to produce 1000 delicious meals for the people in our surrounding communities.

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Chef Theron and our Culinary Program students created a variety of remarkable meals such as tuna salad, tuna fish sandwiches, and grilled tuna steaks. These meals were provided to after school programs, senior centers, and homeless dinners. Let’s just say the needed intake of Omega 3’s were highly successful. Our clients had rave reviews!

We’re extremely grateful to organizations like Fish. Food. Feel Good. that help us with our mission to close the gap between unwanted food items and hungry families in need. Todd Bluechel, who grew up fishing locally and who founded F3G in 2010, noticed sometimes his fellow sport fishermen had extra unwanted fish. Wanting to do something with this nutritious product Todd created F3G a first of its kind charity. Todd is quoted as saying: “I’ve been fishing these waters for over 30 years and there comes a time when you have to stop complaining and take action.”

We sure are glad Todd took action!  Thanks to this creative yet simple idea, F3G donates fish to partnering charities, like Kitchens for Good, who convert it into nutritious and delicious meals that feed over 80,000 annually here in San Diego.

If you would like to learn more about this organization or if you would like to help Todd’s cause visit http://www.f3g.org or call Todd directly:(858) 414-4496.

 

Learn more about our Hunger Relief Programs

FOOD WASTE AS A POWERFUL TOOL TO EMPOWER

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​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.

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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