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A Seat at the Table: Catalyst for Self-Reliance

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CKPgh Culinary Trainees
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Community Kitchen Pittsburgh uses food as the foundation to change lives and strengthen communities. Through our culinary training and transitional employment programs, we integrate food service with social service. We put people back to work.

There are many people in our community who are not yet part of the ongoing transformation of this city. At Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, our clients are ex-offenders and other chronically unemployed individuals. They are young people trying hard to make successful transitions from incarceration to the community, fathers moving from homelessness to stable housing, mothers recovering from addiction—many straining to cope with a combination of these challenges. Our clients continue to experience violence, poverty, and issues ranging from a lack of transportation to food insecurity.

We use food to help address these social issues and this community need. This is not a concept; this is what we do. We operate three food service business lines, which provide a platform for on-the-job training and transitional employment. In the past three years, our programs have:

  • Trained 175 clients with a 91% placement rate for our graduates.
  • Prepared and delivered two million meals, three quarters of which have gone to low-income and vulnerable populations.
  • Diverted over 55,000 pounds of food that would have been thrown away and used it in freshly prepared meals that went to area shelters and other nonprofits serving an at-risk and food insecure clientele.
  • Reached over 3,500 school-aged children, teens, and out-of-school youth and young adults with a demonstrated impact on healthy attitudes and habits.

The UpPrize offers CKPgh the chance to do more. As we move into 2017, we are intentionally shifting our model to be more integrated into the community through a brick and mortar location. The Spahr Building on Second Avenue in Hazelwood will be our new home for culinary training and programming, and is compatible with the Hazelwood community’s economic revitalization master plan.   This location will expand community connection and programming, and will include a culinary training restaurant open to the public. Our programming trains front-of-house and back-of-house positions, and will ultimately provide area food service companies with trained and ready-to-work employees.   Our goal is to help people achieve stability and self-reliance by providing the tools, skills, and experience necessary to shop and cook for themselves and their families, and secure above-minimum-wage employment.  

 With this space, we will:
  • Provide on-site food education classes and workshops,
    Continue our in-school and community-based workshops,
  • Focus on those transitioning to independent living from foster care, homelessness, and other institutional support
  • Provide commissary support and opportunities for local food entrepreneurs to have pop-up restaurant nights. Our support of food entrepreneurs generates employment for our graduates, and as the food service scene grows, we can expand our reach.  

With this space
as a redistribution organization for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, we will be able to provide pantry services to community members to augment existing services, focusing on fresh produce and protein because they are often in short supply at food pantries.
 

With this space
, we will continue to use our social enterprises to distribute fresh, quality food to people who need it most, from schools to shelters.
 

And, with this space, we will continue to provide our flagship culinary training and transitional employment programming, expanded to include all facets of a full service restaurant. We have a responsibility to include all residents in the changing economy, and food service is an important equalizer.   Pittsburgh is seeing an exciting expansion of new ideas and food businesses – and for us, each one is a potential partner. These entities can employ our graduates, or volunteer in our training or education programs as a teacher, trainer, mentor, or coach.  Every new relationship we forge offers opportunities for our clients to develop and expand their professional network, and each contact provides a vision of a successful future.   We are seeking to create a neighborhood-based asset offering community programming around jobs, career pathways, entrepreneurial pursuits, healthy food habits, food security. We are committed to ensuring access to a quality meal and the dignity of sitting at the table regardless of income level.   With our established revenue-generating businesses and our track record, we are well-positioned to accept both debt-financing and grants to help launch this next social enterprise for Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, increasing the breadth and depth of programming and support we offer to our clients and our community.  

We believe everyone deserves a seat at the table. We are excited to utilize the UpPrize support to help us achieve this vision.  




Submitted

Nov 30 2016

Organization Organization Type

Nonprofit

Challenge

Healthy Food

Product Stage

Concept

Team

Contact this team about Funding, Collaboration or other methods of support. Contact Team


19 Comments

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Jack V.

11 months ago

Go Community Kitchen!
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Travis Torsell

11 months ago

Great program!
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Amy Tokar

11 months ago

This is such an inspiring organization that improves the lives within the communities it touches.
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Jonathan O Graham

11 months ago

This is such a wonderful program that is critical in assisting individuals transition themselves into the work force by providing training, work experience, and also adjust to the discipline necessary to build a foundation for a stable and rewarding life, while also helping the communities it works in. I think the potential for having a permanent brick and mortar store in a community such as Hazelwood will only further cement this organization as an institute locals can turn to for assistance.
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Robbie Flaherty

11 months ago

Great idea and very needed.
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John Peck

11 months ago

What a great organization! Please pass this on.
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Tom

11 months ago

Psyched!
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Larry Mencotti

11 months ago

This is a badly needed non-profit approach to empower,ent!
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Caroline Glidden

11 months ago

What a powerful organization! I love that they are putting people back to work and giving them the skills they need to succeed. I hope that Community Pittsburgh Kitchen wins this prize and empowers more people with a career and dignity. Thank you for remembering and honoring the often forgotten/ignored members of our society.
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Edward Voelker

11 months ago

Community Kitchen Pittsburgh is exactly what a non-profit should be; a dedicated staff helping local individuals improve their lives by imparting upon them education and skills to make them valuable and productive members of the community.
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Jocelyn

11 months ago

Community Kitchen is wonderful organization who truly cares about the people they work with! I admire this organization and their committed staff!!
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D-Schratz

11 months ago

I have been to the Youth competitions, typically in March, which inspire local students to create appealing, nutritionally-rich, cost-effective meals (a.k.a. on a school budget). The student enthusiasm was evident all while embracing skills to the benefit of themselves, their families and community, and having fun in the process. All this was done with high level of collaboration with other businesses in the Pittsburgh community creating both sponsorship and awareness of the need. Certainly something to be proud of in our Pittsburgh community.
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Jennifer perl

11 months ago

Great organization. We wish you luck and support your mission.
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John Joyce

11 months ago

The Hazelwood training location is a great idea to expand the the important training and food endeavors of CKPgh. Hazelwood is in the midst of transformation and allowing those being trained by CKPgh a stake in it is exciting. I've enjoyed eating CKPgh food for lunch via Cafe Moca downtown in my office building when I don't bring my own lunch or dine out with clients. It's a good way to spend my money for a necessity like lunch while contributing to a very worthy organization. Keep up the good work.
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Daniell Walker

11 months ago

Graduates are very well prepared for real work in today's commercial kitchens.
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Emily Voelker

11 months ago

So proud to be a part of this team!
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Kit Mueller

11 months ago

This is fantastic!
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Jennifer Roth

11 months ago

Brilliant, progressive organization!
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Susan Dudley

10 months ago

This is a marvelous program. I have volunteered at the Kitchen for over a year. It is wonderful to see a staff dedicated to bringing these students to a point where they can be independent and earn a living wage. It is even more gratifying to listen to the words of graduates describing a new life with enthusiasm and joy. The Hazelwood facility would be a good new partnership with a community who, like our students, is dedicated to making a comeback. If you want to see another aspect of Community Kitchen in action, come to observe Project Lunch Tray where teams of school students compete for the creation of the years best school lunch. There is a preliminary competition followed by the finals at David Lawrence Convention Center during the Farm To Table weekend. Keep an eye on CKP Facebook page for details.

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