The Mapping Community Kitchens in Santa Barbara County project identifies the available community kitchens across Santa Barbara County. This project is meant to move forward several key goals as outlined in the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan (SBCFAP). Here, community kitchens are defined as any kitchen space that is made available to local community members by the organization which owns the kitchen. These spaces give the community greater opportunities to conduct programs related to food security, nutrition, food waste reduction, and food-related entrepreneurial endeavors.
Community kitchens can be used for:
- Repurposing food waste into nutritious meals for those in need
- Providing space for entrepreneurs and artisans to grow their small food businesses
- Training and educational centers to teach culinary skills
- Building community connections by connecting local people to their food system
- Acting as disaster response sites to strengthen community recovery during emergencies
The multi-functionality of community kitchens makes them valuable assets for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs, food rescue organizations, educational programs, job training, and other agencies that are embedded in the food system. The accessibility of community kitchens to be used by a variety of groups encourages diversity of food programming county-wide. This diversity makes our food system stronger and more resilient.
Identifying the community kitchens throughout Santa Barbara County was completed between January and June of 2019. The SBCFAP made efforts to contact a large number of service organizations, schools, places of worship, and similar community-oriented entities to discover if kitchen spaces were maintained and available to the county for shared-use. For-profit organizations were mostly excluded from the search for community kitchens except for a select few for-profits whose primary mission was closely aligned with our definition of community kitchens. Conversations with this varied list of organizations yielded interesting insights to the community kitchens that exist in the county. It was determined that:
- 19 organizations across the county are operating community kitchens
- The number of community kitchens is distributed somewhat evenly between geographic areas of the county, but is not distributed evenly based on population density of county residents
Of these 19 community kitchens, 17 are operated by service organizations, 1 by places of worship, 1 by a for-profit, and 0 by schools. Overall, this survey identified 21 organizations that were not available for consideration as community kitchens. Kitchens that were categorized as not available were mostly limited by space in current programming. Another 17 organizations with permitted kitchen space declined to be considered community kitchens. There were 28 organizations that did not respond to information requests on their organization’s kitchen space.