LBISD KitchensForGood

Thursday, February 1st


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Good morning and welcome to another addition of living veteran San Diego. Public service presentation of the an account San Diego radio stations and Gary late. Kitchens for good is where food changes lives of kitchens from good to teach everything from my skills to life skills and culinary program. And kitchens for a good. They also are doing their part to fight hunger with healthy food and put an end to food waste. Joining us this morning is kitchens for good senior director and founding team member a beat the paley and culinary student Melissa Miller. Welcome of these welcome Melissa. Good morning good morning let's start with some background information on kitchens for good if we could of these details little bit about the organization. Sharon so kicks for dead as a social enterprise that. Aims to break the cycles of food waste poverty and hunger so we kick foods that might otherwise go to waste. And that we turn it into healthy nutritious meals for sandy and the need and we do that through culinary job training program. That hopes individuals with significant barriers to employment to get jobs in the culinary industry. Okay and what we're gonna talk about those programs that you have including culinary one I'm just a little bit but what is the other mission and or vision. Kitchens for good sir mission has just got to address issues of food waste poverty and hunger through programs in culinary job training. Food rescue and health female production and we really aimed to not only feed the food lines but actually shorten the lines by helping people become employed and self sufficient. You guys located. We're located in southeast San Diego at the Jacobs senator. And and how long have you been with the organization so I helped found the organization three years ago with founder check Samuelson so you're still a relatively. Young organization absolutely forest on newcomer to the block. And and what wasn't that motivated you started an organization like this. One where actually started we're particularly interested and issues of food waste and hunger and as you may know we waste an astonishing amount of food in this country about 40% of all food. And simultaneously. But one in six in San Diego are hungry or food insecure. And so we thought we've got to find a way that we can bridge this gap and they're very little being done at the time to do you sell. But when we started asking the question. How many meals or Regan and need to really make a dent in hunger in San Diego. The answer we came up against is that no amount of food is gonna and hunger because people are hungry because they don't have money in their pocket not because there's not enough food around. So we really wanted to create a program that could really hopes lift people out of poverty and give them a second chance that you worked in the nonprofit sector before. Yeah I've been working in the food and hunger relief nonprofit sector for several years. And trucks and Nelson has been a chef and restaurant tour for the past 45 years knives yes and he brings that thing kitchen knowledge right. Now now you're website lists several. Core values of kitchens for gays can we can we go over those we talk about those picture let's start with that nursing community. Absolutely so we believe inertia in the community both with food. As well as with deeper connections on so helping to bring. A broad range of people around the kitchen table are around. Around in the stove to prepare meals with with on another. And another core value is sustainability. Tells them that so we trying to aim for sustainability and everything we deal. Especially in our program structure. We decided early on that we didn't wanna be your typical nonprofit that's constantly struggling for donor dollars. He wanted to be as sustainable as possible ourselves so we built a social enterprise catering company and what we do. But hopes such generate our own revenue to support our programs. So we generate about 59% of our revenues through earn revenue from catering. OK and again we will talk about that too yeah a little later another core value is collaboration. Absolutely we don't believe we can get anywhere without the partners that we that we used to do our work so whether that's the agency referral partners that it send a students or the people that we work with two. Rescue produce or distribute our meals be really see it as an ecosystem and that we don't have to do. All of the pieces ourselves it's better to partner with others and equality. Certainly we really want to Foster equality in all the work that we do to help. To help our students feel as equal of a member of the team as any other fulltime staff member. And as long as you're in the kitchens for again logo your part of that family. And lastly. The last core values listed on your website is innovation. We really try and look at these pressing issues in a new light how can we not necessarily take the status quo. But mixed pieces together of things that have otherwise been wasted of wasted food and people in our community that has been wasted an overlooked and how can we fit those pieces together in a new and innovative way. The from a mistaken if I call but I read about your organization I think and so on your website. You you basically are working with ad is it at risk youth or were adults as well. It ranges so the students and their program have various barriers to employment from. Formally incarcerated adults use aging out of the Foster care system. Homeless individuals and individuals. Struggling with addiction and mental health issues so let's let's talk about some of your programs that you do you have. You mentioned that in in the United States 40% of all edible food goes to waste that costs more than 165. Billion dollars each year yeah it's astonishing. When you really think about nearly half of our food has gone to waste a lot of your programs. Addresses that issue that's your project we claim to bring up that program. So there's so much food going to waste but I wanna. Take away the nastiness of that idea it's not the food that's rotting in the back of your fridge it is perfectly edible nutritious and delicious food. That doesn't meet all cosmetic standards let's say it's an apple with a neck on one side or are sweet potato that's too big or too small. All our tomatoes that are a little too squishy to be sold right now and so all of that product and not. Headed to the landfill until we do is we intercepted it we work with. Farmers markets and wind wholesale companies and that product that still perfectly edible and nutritionist. We take that and turn it into our healthy meals that we worked primarily with specialty produce one and the main wholesale companies in the area. And we also work with some local farmers markets to take all of excess plus server Prodi's after the market and utilized that as well. I think we're all guilty. I have on that when you go to the grocery store certainly you see an apple has got to gang unit or again like you said tomatoes that are too squishy pin him that we don't. We don't buy those race they end up sitting there for surgery time soon and they have to get rid of them. Exactly and we train intercept that hopefully before it gets to the grocery store or once it's gotten there. And what we see in our kitchen is that you peel back those outsized layers you look past the breezes that tattoos on people and there's a lot of beauty inside. Is it is there any. One food item. They were wasting more than any other or you type of food you. We see a whole lot from her kitchen. I would say that bananas are wasted a ton just because of the short shelf life in people's taking Ansar Al let me get a banana. So when we get from bananas and kitchen we take the peels off immediately. Freeze them and make huge batches of banana bread on an ongoing B says so. Even if you get something in you can't use it rate a way there's a lot of different ways that we try and preserve it tease that at a later date. In my daughter actually. Has done that with the madness yeah she's froze in Hammond. And I level when she does evidence of banana breath yet and still make it kind of banana bread so that Allison and fruit is is probably maybe the biggest culprit. Fruit and vegetables that enables them so the so you take you rescue the food and did you call. Us food do you think you rescued each year. This year contract rescue over 60000 pounds of food that's larger than a full. Top floor to ceiling tractor trailer. Food that's a lot of food. So that food has turned into over 50000. Nutritious meals like coach families and eat so then you distribute their food and how how does that work. So we prepare these beautiful and nutritious and delicious meals and then we distribute those meals to other hunger relief organizations that work with. At risk youth homebound seniors and and the homeless and so. With those partnerships there party working with those populations and we're adding that additional nutrition service by having a ready to eat healthy meal. At their disposal in and you forty got these port if you're working with yes. So some of those looking for more we are always looking for more but we are actually about to greatly expand their hunger relief program. In two weeks we're starting to do afterschool meals for at risk youth and we'll be doing about 600 meals a day. For app risky and the community. That's your hunger relief present is that you're a tragic marriage yes we'll tell us a bit more than about that program sheriff so. As I mentioned before we really work with partnerships to distribute these meals and make sure that we're adding a nutritional value to local programs out there are so that those programs whether it's a homeless program a senior programmer and after school program that they're able to focus their dollars on the programming at hand. While we can help expand their program through those food services and sell our meals are. They always get rave reviews because they're made lovingly by culinary students. And they're always really focused on that health and nutrition as well. And that's that's that I was asked if there who's who's cooking meals chairs so that's the key part of our program is that. The meals are prepared by students and our culinary job training program. Who are gaining the skills in the culinary industry to go out and come complete and self sufficient. And in some pretty staggering results also regarding. Hunger in San Diego county and I think you mentioned that a bit about it. One a six people in San Diego our food insecure 460000. Individuals and economically more than 160000. Children. Don't know where their next meal will come from and hunger. Has increased 80% among seniors. In the last decade. Ghosts and pretty staggering statistics it's pretty unbelievable eleventh here in San Diego and you're doing your part to. To lessen who. And year culinary food program. That is your am project launch right. Ray in this this is the actual class where where you know students and like Melissa who are who are learning how to cut rates of us is. Really and so much of the heart of what we do is they're students. We work with individuals who. Come to our program with. Labels that feel like they're emblazoned on their forehead and permanent marker labels like Fallon are Foster cater homeless are mentally ill. And these labels can really feel like their preventing them from getting a job reentering society successfully. And so it's our job to help them remove those labels and replace them with new one slick employed and self sufficient and happy and so. Our program is a twenty month certified culinary apprenticeship program are certified by the state of California. And they spend the first three months in our kitchen learning everything from my skills to life skills so the whole gamut the whole gamut so so you are as you mentioned California certified culinary apprenticeship. Program what what does that mean. So what that means is we really. Combine a focus of classroom training with on the job. So we teach students the fundamentals than those three months of classroom time. But what we've learned from doing messes that sometimes at the end of the day there's no better learning then clocking in and doing the job. And so we've really integrated that into the programs that students complete 300 hours of classroom time. And 2400 hours on the job training time in her doing that on the job training when we place them into jobs in the industry paint ups. And and they are also working for your catering company right exactly. Now how long is of course again so it's a three month course that kitchens for and and how many graduates at the hands down in this 23 years you can count you've had over a 110 graduates and those graduates are. Now working some of the top restaurants and hotels across San Diego Fram. Could she nerve on ninth 200 hotel the hotel Coronado. Some of them. Most esteemed restaurants are employing her clicks and what we've seen is that we have a 90%. Unemployment rate of our graduates. That's incredible. Yet and that's makes Maine makes me really proud of them yet now. Now one of your success stories sitting with a set today Melissa. How old are you to listen I'm 36 years on a cane and he might tell us your story because you've you've got to you had some problems. For you got to kitchens for good. Absolutely. I've been struggling with my drug addiction now for eighteen years. The mother of 33 daughters. And down over the course of my life I have had many obstacles and ears and I mean not because of situation is that because of my choices my actions my inability to sequence over. I just recently got out of prison and August last year. And I had a moment come January 17 2016 where. At that moment where I had enough I couldn't continue the last time I was living and I decided it clean and sober. And imprison I went to college I took them a substance abuse treatment program there and. When I got pearl auto history into a rehab and that rehab. Such chef there that could that the food turn new connections in Cuba he has party ranks he actually informed me about actions for and. And I'd worked in the kitchen imprison and I was kitchen corner Cuba and I really love cooking and he said that. Disappear. A benefit from you would help me you know. It's the skills and some knowledge and some some solid ground underneath my feet. I've never had a job. You know I've I've never been employed before. Every minute interview and. So what I would kitchens for good intimate interview and I met everybody that's on the kitchen knife felon because it is like the golden ticket. And golden opportunity for somebody like me. In a position of me in future that the past it had to actually have a future you know not only for myself but from my daughter's two and around. Pigeons for dead as an amazing program doesn't just give vehicle owners those gives you know pride yourself because you actually see what you're doing. And that teachers and the chefs Darren all the staff there is so supportive now and they just want the best for you. I just recently got my first paycheck and half that was an emotional thing for me because. Even though I mean I'm 36 years old and it was the first pitcher to have ever happened in my life and and I really emotional highs are crying and insists. Validation for me showing me that. What I'm doing now my life. Is. The right path you know kitchens for that is obviously we endorsed me and I'm actually stepping through them because of the encouragement and support that they're giving me there and. Are you are you a graduate yet or stimulus I will be graduating next month next month so I'm almost time. How long you've been clean. I have been clean and two years now congratulations thank you it was it was a drugs and alcohol to stroke strokes as drugs yes of which you're you're clean now yes I am I struggle with heroin addiction and I just sacrificed so much today and I just couldn't do it no more you know. I take my life back and so. Pigeons for good has not given me the opportunity to have a confidence me that I can actually go out and be self sufficient and the role model for my daughters and be proud of what I'm doing you know calm and taken that completely from taking that so. Insists it's an amazing program. And paycheck you got the first paycheck that was from working with in the catering garrison was actually. The executive chef Karl. He has pulled me a few times who work on some catering events which has been an amazing opportunity for me because actually get. In the kitchen and I'm preparing meals for people that paid for them you know and. It's just it's an amazing feeling for me because IA. And doing something that is positive and it's legal and it's it's it's new to me you know and I I love it and I just. I just I can't see my something anything else you don't listen to the desire to cut this is something that you wanted to do for years or did it come about from billion working in the in the kitchen in prison. How well actually you know when I was growing up my dad dad's parents raised me my grandmother she was an amazing coat and I remembered in the kitchen with her own also grown and trying to help her cook and her teaching me stuff is so cooking is always been a part of my life you know. I love making delicious food and seen as fast facts on people's faces when the Egypt and. It's always been a part of my life even when I was in my addiction you know. When I went to to prison and I was a cook and and imprison. IRA. Bill this work ethic inside me you know and I realized that hey I can do this you know like. Yeah I'm in prison but I'm working on doing the job I'm are providing a service and when I got out and went to keep I continued doing that and sky a rich he told me is like you know Melissa Hewitt Cilic. In the kitchen chef won't be so happy to have you working for him because you you'd do your job. You always ask what and what can be done next and you you to a good job why you're doing it to you and you're a good cook and I didn't have confidence in me to to actually believe him. But I took that risk consent okay woman do this you know and kitchens for good has given that confidence yeah I can do this. Of the even do you help the students find. A job. Absolutely we worked with. Dozens of local restaurants that. Come to us that there employment needs than what we love to hear is that they come straight to us. Whenever they have an open job and so we have a wait list of employers trying to hire graduates it's pretty amazed thing. And so we can't be really picky to send her students to some great establishments where we know that they're really gonna focus on. For students long term career growth as well. But I think one thing all piling on about Melissa story is the program offers a lot more than teaching people how to cock. I think that's one component but if you talk to any employer in any industry. Some of the top reasons that they love or hate an employee for those life skills are communication teamwork their attitude going into the job. And there pride and self respect on their on the job. And so that's a lot of the life skills that we focus on two hours every single day just focusing on. How do you talk to your employer howdy communicate with a coworker how do you. Make yourself valuable member to that team and that's so much beyond how to make this salts or at this chicken recipe. So that's such integral component as well you're instilling self. You know not only and cookies and play and yourself as a person as a human being you know because we like to be this that we've had those labels. You know junkie drug addict criminal. Com and those labels have stuck with me for a long time and they they tore me down you know what they have given me the ability to. Remove them you know and to build myself up and somebody that I am proud to be today. It's hard to build yourself back up. Or build yourself up at an all we've got that statement people. Am putting you down all the time with that statement absolutely so that's that's good what you do in there and and helping to build a month. And again it's more than just cooking food assistance for good or who I am who teaches the culinary. Culinary school that did test kitchens for good as it is a professional chefs. Yeah we have really incredible stuff we've sky chefs there and fisheries are chef instructor. Who's a professional change shafts and history in the food and beverage industry for casinos. As well as our catering executive chef curl pro Pasco. And then you also have any full time career coach he teaches the workforce readiness skills. And we'll tell the students like it is and frankly column on the air. Yeah. And miss daisy says which is needed and our case manager who also supports her students and making sure that all of those other wraparound services are taken care. Do you follow up with you students after they graduate and get their jobs absolutely we tracked him down we tracked her students for eighteen months at least. After they graduate. And make sure that they're still employed. Making sure also that their wages are continuing to grow we don't want them to just get that job we want them to get a career and making sure that there on that path to self sufficiency. And achieving those goals that they set for themselves Eleanor program. So we we do a lot of reaching out toward students after and then we also do some ongoing alumni programs as well. Melissa what do you think you'd be today if it wasn't for kitchens for good. Well on Pakistan must have tears in his over I don't feel like I would be on my way to being self sufficient. I know that out of public view really discouraged. Because like I have never had employment before. I wouldn't even know where to start to your job. You know I would be under a lot of pressure and I would be very overwhelmed and I think I would be at risk to relapse you know none. I just I just know that in the position that I am today locations for good government back. I have all the opportunities that I need you to succeed you know if I didn't have this I would. How wouldn't be as ready to take care of myself as I am now you know. Now before we wrap up. I do want to touch on your your catering service for a few minutes this is day a five star. Catering service and again portion of proceeds from your events that you cater go right back into your program tonight. Exactly so we have an incredible fight start catering operation. That really can compete with any of the other teeters on the block. We've been read it does the top ten lines and modern luxury magazine for our services and whether it's a curving station at a wedding to an eight corporate Gallo floor. Even a casual. Working lunch we can really do it all and so our shots are. Extremely creative and use some of the most beautiful sustainable local produce. And really create delicate and amazing menus out of them. We do over 600 catered events a year and what it is so great about that is it one hopes to financially support our programs and operations. And two is that it creates those are on the job training opportunities for students and give students like Melissa that in. Credible feeling of working for a paycheck. And giving them that experience of they are trained professionals and that they're doing so well on the job that any chef would be lucky to have them how. How can a business let's say somebody's listening this morning and there and they've got an event coming up soon and they need a caterer. How in the get a hold of you what's the process. Wonderful first just check our website www. Kitchens forbid. Dot org slash catering. And dropped a Salina and we be happy to send you an event proposal I think that's one of the unique ways that. You can help support kitchens forget as a nonprofit is spike catering your next event there's so many opportunities where. You need sandwich buffet or something like that so we can help you add that all along knowing that you're doing something really good for the community. And then of course you can also hope the self by volunteering. We adds to weekly community taking days and our kitchen Marie can. Come cook's side by side with our students to cook meals for the hungry. And of course lastly. I would always encourage anyone who has the means to donate any amount that's right for you because it can have. Such lasting affects not only. For those receiving the meals. For a student like analysts but even further generation only four Melissa's daughters who are going to be affected. By her new found employment and change change of life. Hauser awaited donated to website absolutely pickle button on top fifty I just write a yet. And Eddie get you mentioned that portion here. Proceeds from your your events that you can't go back into the program to him and you get individual donations to get any other funding. We do get some funding through government support as well and then we also have had donations of in kind whether that's. Through. Volunteering through donating materials like computers or different things as well. And it and if somebody listening this morning dose of somebody or is someone who's in arrested in your culinary program project launch. How they go about getting to that program. Again honor I'd say they can go to www. Kitchens for good dot org. And there is an application form on our website we have five classes for our culinary program years starting every ten weeks and so we welcome them to apply. Any any specific requirements. To get into the program. They have to be eighteen or older and eligible to work in the US. And of course have a very very strong passion Africa game. That's really one of the number one determinant for how we see people succeed is if they're passionate about it. Common if they're not you're probably not gonna last and hot kitchen. And it does do harm Arafat. So what's the intake process so we received over sixty applicants for every class of twenty students and it's a pretty competitive program. And so students fill out their application and then we invite them in for an in person interview. And during that interview we're trying to assess if the day. Again are passionate about cooking and are also prepared to make this real commitment in terms of housing sobriety. Mental health. And then if they pass that around and their inflated to be a part of our kitchen trial. Ages eight to our child shift in our kitchen. Where we're not quite looking to see whose top chef material Butler really just seeing. Who it can follow instructions work well as a team and show up on time. Okay and and what is Euro website again www. Kitchens for good dot pork and are you on social media absolutely right captions frigate. All right a visa and Melissa thank you for being announced senator Dan appreciate you coming out. Melissa good luck to you thank you so much and a view that thankfully do kitchens for good to providing great. Service and it's appreciated Q. That concludes another addition of living better in San Diego the opinions expressed on living veteran San Diego do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views. Of the staff and management of the and a count San Diego radio stations. Episodes of living better San Diego are available on the station's website. Until next time I'm Gary league had a great week.