December 04, 2017 / GET OVER YOURSELF
December 04, 2017
Through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise, Kitchens for Good is breaking the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger.
There is a lot of innovation taking place in the food space—from sophisticated scientific food plans like Habit, to food experiences like 3-d printed food, to the way we purchase and view our relationship with food. But not all of these food disruptors have a comprehensive and thoughtful business model like Kitchens for Good.
Kitchens for Good was founded by Chuck Samuelson in 2013 in an effort to make an impact on food waste and hunger. For him it’s personal—he’s been homeless and he’s spent a lifetime in the food service industry as a chef, restaurateur and consultant. Chuck started his career as a dishwasher at the age of thirteen and rose to positions of Executive Chef and General Manager in his late twenties. He has owned award-winning restaurants and served as the Senior Manager for Food Services at Stone Brewing Company. While working as an Executive Chef he was shocked at the tremendous amount of food being wasted, knowing that there is a large community that lacks access to nutritious food. Chuck knew he had to do something so he dedicate himself to making a difference, and Kitchens for Good was born.
Chuck built the company on the principle of a “Right Livelihood” which asks people to earn a living that contributes more to their communities than they take away. He wanted to stop making a living and start making a difference.
Taking a common approach with an uncommon lens
Kitchens for Good has created a sustainable closed-loop business model that bridges the gap between wasted food and hunger by rescuing and purchasing surplus food from wholesalers and farmers, and then engaging students in its culinary job training program to transform these ingredients into nutritious meals and products for hungry families.
Kitchens for Good believes that food can be a driver of social and economic good in communities. With meals that not only feed, but improve the health of vulnerable residents, jobs that employ men and women perceived as unemployable, and a purchasing power that supports Southern California’s farmers and communities, they are striving to effectively and profitably close the broken loops of our food system.
Food is simply too good to waste. However, in the United States over 40% of all food produced is wasted. Half of that waste consists of fresh produce that has cosmetic imperfections or lacks commercial demand. From fruits that are too ripe to sell, to vegetables with superficial blemishes, or eggs that are too big or too small to fit supermarket standards, there is a tremendous amount of food that is highly nutritious and going to waste. Kitchens for Good works directly with farmers and wholesale companies to purchase and rescue those unwanted fruits and vegetables. All donations and purchases are gathered at a food processing hub where staff, students and volunteers use it to make healthy meals, snacks, and food products for social services agencies across San Diego.
Kitchens for Good is a social enterprise that creates jobs, supports local farmers and local communities.
Each week students prepare 1,500 meals for hungry seniors and children across San Diego county. This approach not only addresses the most immediate needs of hunger through healthy meals, but also tackles the root cause of hunger—poverty—through a workforce training program that provides individuals who are typically considered difficult to employ the skills to become self-sufficient.
Excess or unusable produce flows to companies that can transform it into products for sale or donation. The labor to make those products enables at-risk individuals to learn marketable skills that enable them to take control of their economic destiny.
Out of their kitchen comes several profitable programs, from Kitchens for Good catering and events to contract meals for senior centers to a retail product line and more. These social enterprises create jobs, support local farmers and reinvest profits back into their communities. The closed-loop model ensures that resources flow to those in need with as little waste as possible.
Through their creative social enterprise, Kitchens for Good is able to generate 75% of their total budget. The company ensures its own sustainability by building a profitable food enterprise at the core of each of its kitchens, including catering, contract meals services and retail food products. Through this robust enterprise model they create livable wage jobs for culinary graduates and generate significant profits to reinvest into their social programs.
There are many ways get involved: