3 minute read
This edition of Focus on Philanthropy looks at the San Diego-based nonprofit, Kitchens for Good.
When people have a troubled past, or complex life circumstances, they are often labeled “unemployable.” As a result, they feel stuck and powerless to escape this cycle that could ultimately lead to poverty.
Kitchens for Good believes that all food has power and that all people have potential. Their mission:
Kitchens for Good breaks the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production, and social enterprise.
In 2014, the founders of Kitchens for Good were troubled by the enormous amount of food waste in San Diego and the knowledge that one in seven San Diegans went hungry, launched a daring new nonprofit. They set out to bridge this gap and in so doing they realized that merely rescuing food to provide meals was not going to solve the crisis of hunger. Those who suffer from hunger and food insecurity need a means to reach economic self-sufficiency through jobs that pay a sustainable wage. The answer was a culinary apprenticeship program that would provide workforce training to individuals hardest hit by unemployment and food insecurity—the formerly incarcerated, homeless, and foster youth.
Kitchens for Good operates an award-winning catering enterprise, in addition to the culinary job training program. Impressive in good times but the pandemic required an immediate pivot. Here are some of the actions implemented so far:
- Culinary apprentices have been working tirelessly in the kitchen over the last three months preparing more than 110,000 scratch-cooked meals for families in need.
- The team recently took a pause from the daily production of 2,500 meals to recognize five graduating apprentices and hear from them how feeding the community has fed their soul and prepared them for their future careers. Check out the Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony!
- The staff continues to support the alumni on their re-entry into the workforce as the economy begins to re-open slowly.
- The team addresses fundraising limitations by creating an exciting lineup of “Virtual Dinners for Good” cooking classes. This is a chance to learn from the best chefs in town while also supporting the organization!
Looking at the public’s response to supporting organizations like Kitchens for Good, Fidelity Charitable® recently reported on their donor grant making activity from January to April 2020.
- Giving to the Human Services sector, which includes organizations that provide basic care like food and shelter, skyrocketed in the first four months of 2020. Human Services was the most popular charitable sector in 21 states and Washington, D.C. in the beginning of 2020—compared to 2019 when it was the most popular sector in only seven states.
- Nationally, grants totaling nearly $75 million to free food programs were made in the first part of 2020—compared to $9.7 million in 2019.
- More than 18,000 Giving Accounts supported a free food program nationwide. The most popular nonprofit among donors in 38 states and Washington, D.C. was the local food bank or other organization fighting hunger.
The Fidelity report also shared positive news that donors in all regions of the country accelerated their generosity and responded rapidly to the scale and scope of the crisis. The COVID-19 crisis motivated donors everywhere to act. Every geographic region increased its grant volume by at least 28% over the same period in 2019.
Fidelity’s report is good news, especially for nonprofits like Kitchens for Good, but the future is unknown. Funders stepped up early as a response, but the long-term effects of COVID-19 remain to be seen. These organizations need us to stay with them all year.
Often, I imagine what the daily challenges look like for our nonprofit partners. COVID-19 has changed everything. Fundraising events were canceled, social enterprises like Kitchens for Good lost their primary income source, and client services moved online in an industry struggling with below-standard technology resources. Leaders are exhausted trying to take care of their employees, operations, and clients.
If you are inspired and want to help Kitchens for Good continue feeding families in San Diego you can join the Virtual Dinners for Good cooking classes.
Nonprofits are on the frontline of caring for our communities, and First Foundation’s Supporting Our Communities engagement gives us a front row seat to the generosity in each community. If you would like assistance identifying organizations focused on causes you care about, our Philanthropy Services team is always available for a virtual cup of coffee and chat.