November 15, 2017 / Ask Great Questions
November 15, 2017
It’s rare to meet a leader of an organization who has lived the life of those they help. Chuck Samuelson is one of those people. Founder of Kitchens for Good, food provocateur, and exceptional company leader, Chuck is kind, caring and humble.
Chuck is chock-full of inspiration (and recipes). We sat with him over a magnificent supper to dive deeper into the Kitchens for Good story, his personal passions and his uncommon lens on the world.
Chuck’s passion and values are embedded throughout his organization.
“I understand that often people fail to succeed not by any defect in themselves, but because of the circumstances of their birth or events in their lives. I come from a broken home. I am a recovering addict. I have been homeless. I know what it is like to have to start over. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance.”
Chuck built his business model with a second chance in mind. Kitchens for Good is a social enterprise that creates jobs, supports local farmers and local communities. Through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production, and social enterprise the brand is breaking the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger. Kitchens for Good works directly with farmers and wholesale companies to purchase and rescue unwanted fruits and vegetables with cosmetic imperfections or that lack commercial demand. 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.
Chuck spends most of his time at work heading the social enterprise side of the business. Always looking towards the future and ensuring that the brand stays focused, he often asks himself, “Given what we know now, how do we get to where we want to be in 3, 5, 10 years?”
A humble leader.
Chuck is exceptionally humble. He turns to the people he works with each day for inspiration. “The amazing team of folks I get to work with every day and our students are the true heroes of this story.”
When we asked him about the most meaningful story he’s heard in his travels, Chuck’s response was, “Two things that were said by students who have graduated from our program. The first was ‘This program is the first thing I have ever completed other than a prison sentence.’ The second was ‘I’m living Chuck’s dream.’ The reality is just the opposite. I’m living the dream that these students make happen every day.”
A love of good food.
Chuck is a true foodie. And although he couldn’t tell us what his favorite food is—because he loves them all—he does have a particular fondness for cheeseburgers. But, if he had to eat only one cuisine for the rest of his life, it would be Chinese. “There is so much variety that I would never get bored.”
Chuck doesn’t have a favorite restaurant, but he did share a few he frequents in San Diego. For fish tacos his choice is Oscar’s Mexican Seafood in Encinitas. And for breakfast he frequents Mama Kat’s in San Marcos (he recommends the corned beef hash and eggs).
A healthy dose of uncommon sense.
Chuck defines uncommon sense as the unwillingness to let go of your dream. His dream has grown for more than two decades. “Because I was unwilling to let go of this dream, I was able to find the supporters who would help make it happen. Sometimes all you can do is tell your story. Eventually, if your story resonates with enough people, you can make your dream into a reality. Uncommon sense let me know in my heart when it was time to leave the comfort of a well paying job to start Kitchens For Good.”
Uncommon Sense principles Chuck lives by.
If you’re interested in becoming involved visit www.kitchensforgood.org