After the Food Action Plan was published in 2016, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley priest and rector Dr. Randall Day started to think seriously about how his church could activate its commercial kitchen for community use to address food action plan goals.
In the fall of 2020, St Mark’s in-the-Valley, Community Environmental Council (CEC), Veggie Rescue, and Allan Hancock College began to collaborate and launched a Community Kitchens working group to support the further activation of kitchens throughout Santa Barbara County. Community Kitchens are spaces that give the community greater opportunities to conduct programs related to food security, nutrition, food waste reduction, and food-related entrepreneurial endeavors.
St Mark’s was awarded $9,000 by SBCFAN’s Food System Grant program to hire an Outreach and Implementation Coordinator for the next phase of the community kitchens project.
In the Summer of 2021, the Community Environmental Council transferred the convening and coordination of the Community Kitchens Working Group to SBCFAN. Working Group membership expanded to a broad range of lived and learned experience to inform and address identified needs for community kitchen activation: St. Mark’s in-the-Valley, Veggie Rescue, CEC, Allan Hancock College, County of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Middle School, Isla Vista Youth Projects, Blue Sky Center, and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
Veggie Rescue partnered with St. Mark’s in-the-Valley to hire an Outreach and Implementation Coordinator to conduct outreach, identify potential kitchens and users, deepen and accelerate community collaboration. The role reports to SBCFAN and partners in Working Group project coordination.
In November, they engaged with four identified community kitchens to better understand their capacity, needs, and surrounding communities. Kitchens included Allan Hancock College Culinary Lab in Santa Maria, Blue Sky Center’s Cuyama Kitchen in New Cuyama, and Santa Barbara Middle School in Santa Barbara.
Spearheaded by the Outreach and Implementation Coordinator, the Working Group developed a toolkit to provide mobile and commercial kitchen owners and users with critical resources, such as guidelines for permits and certifications, technical guides for kitchen appliances and California codes, health and safety guidelines, grant applications, and more. The public launch is scheduled for spring 2022 in partnership with SBCFAN.
SYV Community Kitchen offers monthly kitchen space to micro-entrepreneur, Global Gardens. Global Gardens offers organic California olive oil made from locally grown olives.
SYV Community Kitchen received half of a pallet of kale from Veggie Rescue and the Food Bank of Santa Barbara. Volunteers helped with stemming, washing, and freezing the kale, and SYV Community Kitchen provided kale to the Organic Soup Kitchen in Santa Barbara.
SYV Community kitchen offers weekly kitchen space to micro-entrepreneur, The Juicy Life. The Juicy Life is a woman-owned business that provides farm-to-jar pressed seasonal, local, and organic juice blends that are distributed with a milkman-style delivery across Santa Barbara County. Each week, The Juicy Life produces between 100 and 200 16oz jars of fresh-pressed juice. Jars are reusable and contain fresh produce provided by local farms, such as Givens Farm, Something Good Organics, and Finley Farms.
Future PLANS FOR ACTIVATION:
- The Working Group will be activating kitchens in 7 different cities and is continuing to develop a network of community kitchens that can serve as hubs for teaching, training, nutrition, and food distribution.
- A toolkit will be made available soon for anyone to access the resources necessary to activate a kitchen for community use.
- “The Community Kitchens Working Group is accelerating at a rapid pace. We recently expanded our identified kitchen list from 19 to 21 across Santa Barbara County. These kitchen spaces are valuable resources for conducting food security and nutrition programs, practicing food waste reduction, launching entrepreneurial endeavors, and developing disaster response sites.”
- Developing a network of kitchens to serve as hubs for teaching, training, nutrition, and food distribution.
- The SBCFAN Working Group created a space that brings people together to share ideas, expertise, and experience.