Kitchens for Good:
MATCHING PURPOSE AND SUSTAINABILITY
DURING THE PANDEMIC
Jennifer Gilmore joined Kitchens for Good (KFG) in 2015, first as executive director and later as CEO. Jennifer brought focused leadership to a startup with a mission of providing culinary job training for the unemployed, while transforming cosmetically imperfect produce and surplus food into nutritious meals for the hungry.
After 4 years of building a resource base, Jennifer initiated a process that consolidated KFG’s professional leadership and core catering programming. But on March 16th, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newson ordered a state shut-down to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Six months later, on September 1, Jennifer walked into KFG’s new kitchen facility, feeling hot from wearing a mask in the San Diego summer. As she approached the building, she wondered to herself, “was the consolidation worth the risk?” With the imperative of maintaining social distance, there was no demand for catering, and the pandemic instantly altered the hospitality industry.
She thought of the word everyone seemed to be using—“pivot”—and wondered:
How should KFG pivot during the pandemic? How could we balance a growing demand for hunger relief with an evolving apprenticeship program and no clear revenue-generating enterprise on site? What types of jobs would be available for incoming and future apprentices?
Two Social Entrepreneurs meet at a hunger relief conference and begin brainstorming how they could alleviate hunger by taking in food surplus and rescuing cosmetically imperfect food. Create 501(c)(3) Kitchen’s for Good (KFG).
KFG gains regional recognition, but customer satisfaction with catering services declines due to uneven quality of service. Decision made to invest in organizational capacity and focus on its hospitality training.
Catering operation stops because of Covid-19 pandemic.
KFG moves into a new catering facility and inherits staff and customers. Expands operations rapidly.
KFG grows to include 35 full-time and 60 part-time employees, including employed apprentices. Additional hires are made in marketing, sales, and curricular design.
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