Cooking for a Cause

Kitchens for Good

He’s a senior citizen who lives alone, with his limited mobility making it difficult to cook. At the beginning of the pandemic, that meant serious challenges.

Like countless others, this San Diego man has been dealing with isolation due to COVID-19 and relies on the support of philanthropists and the nonprofit community to receive basic needs. Fortunately for him, the nonprofit community made certain he did not face these challenges alone.

The San Diego man’s fortunes turned when Kitchens for Good – which by the end of the year will have cooked more than 275,000 meals for those suffering from hunger and food insecurity thanks in large part to a $75,000 grant from the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund – began delivering dinners to his front door.

“Your meals are simply delightful,” wrote the senior. “I can’t express it enough. Thank you to the chefs for making scratch-made, healthy and delicious meals for people like me.”

Founded just five years ago, Kitchens for Good is a culinary apprenticeship program providing critical workforce training to hardest hit populations such as foster youth, the formerly incarcerated and the homeless who hone their skills while preparing thousands of lunches and dinners for hungry San Diegans.

The donation from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund has enabled Kitchens for Good to ramp up the number of frozen meals it makes and distributes from 2,000 to 15,000 each week during peak demand in June.

Demand was so high that it was not unusual to find 500 or more cars lined up at the nonprofit, based at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation in Southeast San Diego, during Tuesday distributions carried out in partnership with I Am My Brother’s Keeper.

Healthy heat-and-eat meals also are distributed through a partnership with the San Diego Food Bank to its partner agencies across San Diego County. In addition, Kitchens for Good partnered with Market Box SD to provide K-12 students learning remotely with weekly home delivered food boxes filled with ingredients, recipes, instructions, and meals. And in October, the nonprofit entered into a partnership with Grossmont College to provide up to 200 free fresh meals to college students in need each week.

“These meals are a lifeline,” said Aviva Paley, Kitchens for Good co-founder and senior director. “The San Diego Foundation grant has really helped us scale up and maintain our meal production and distribution during the pandemic.”

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund has been critical in helping tens of thousands of area residents ranging from preschoolers to seniors who have found themselves impacted by the relentless economic and social impacts of COVID-19.

Kitchens for Good is helping not only the hungry, but also those who are hungry to learn a trade that will lift them from poverty.

“I came to Kitchens for Good to get a new start on my life, and to start a new career,” said one apprentice. “It means a lot to me to be preparing these meals because I used to be in their shoes. I was the person receiving the food before, and now I’m giving back.”

Added another apprentice: “When I started this program my life was turned upside down. I lost everything and I was homeless. Being able to provide not only nutrition, but a little bit of joy and happiness to people who are struggling right now is a pretty amazing feeling.”

You can help by donating today.