With the addition of several new meal partnerships, 2016 was a year of unprecedented growth in our meals program! We opened a second kitchen at St. Luke’s Community House, doubled our meals production, nearly tripled our food recovery efforts and added a total of FIVE new positions to our meals team!
We can’t talk about changes in our meals program without starting with our biggest change - in March of 2016, we opened our second kitchen site at St. Luke’s Community House. This was an exciting opportunity to double our meals outputs while building a solid relationship with a new partner in St. Luke’s. We completed a minor renovation of the kitchen, adjusting the layout and bringing in new equipment and shelving to maximize the space and ensure that we worked efficiently while producing the healthiest meals possible.
Volunteer extraordinaire Ann Fundis led the opening of the new kitchen and worked tirelessly to get the kitchen up and running until permanent staff, Kelli Johnson and Sarah Morgan, were hired. We were able to expand our volunteer opportunities and add new morning prep times to support the kitchen. Thanks to an amazing team of HCA volunteers, we also built and initiated a robust new compost system at St. Luke’s to utilize any food waste generated by the kitchen. Through all these efforts, we’ve been able to provide more than 100 preschoolers and seniors with more high-quality fruits and vegetables five days a week.
Determined to make a real difference in the amount of usable food entering our city’s waste stream, we created the new position of Food Donations Coordinator. In the role, Booth Jewett, has strengthened partnerships with local farmers, grocers and markets to nearly triple the amount of food we recovered from 2015 to 2016. This has provided more than $150,000 of food to support our meals program while keeping costs down.
In addition to recovering more food, Booth has also initiated partnerships with 11 nonprofits to share excess donated food. These partners use this food in their own kitchens and stock client refrigerators, ensuring even more have reliable access to fresh food.
In our South Hall kitchen, we’ve also seen incredible growth, hiring new Meals Manager Christa Ross and Meals Assistant Kathleen Costello. This new staffing helped us increase South Hall meals outputs from just over 1,000 each week in 2015 to more than 1,300 each week in 2016. We added additional volunteer prep times, re-arranged the prep space and created new systems to make our work more efficient and ensure that we are making the best use of every resource we have!