Bill, Betsy & Bracken's Kitchen Fight Hunger & Poverty In Our Own Backyard.
On a typical Sunday we frequent the farmer's market down the street from our apartment with the goal of loading up on seasonal vegetables for the first half of the week. In the event they are carrying only the basics (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) and we're actually on the hunt for specifics (kohlrabi, romanescu, dandelion greens) we simply pop one neighborhood over, where blocks upon blocks are closed from 7am to 2pm every Sunday so the people of West LA can buy from local farmers, ranchers and purveyors. We bask in the options, often discussing the privilege of living in agriculturally driven, sunny California where food deserts can't possibly exist and children are privy to an abundance of kale, avocados and homemade granola. There's certainly no hunger in our backyard!
There are nearly 400,000 people who struggle with hunger in Orange County and one in five children are at risk of hunger each month. The government’s Free and Reduced Lunch Plan (FRLP) is the best available indicator of the number of children living in poverty in a community. It has recorded that in Orange County 49% of school age children are on the free and reduced lunch plan at school. In LA County that number jumps to 58%.
Enter Bill Bracken, a nationally renowned chef with over 35 years of experience in the hospitality business who "wanted to open a kitchen to help address the problems, but realized that hunger in Orange County has its own set of challenges, not the least of which included a primary concern of reaching food insecure families and children distributed over a broad geographic area. After some deliberation, he came to the conclusion that the answer could be found in the trendy new rebirth of an age-old business: mobile food trucks. If the people could not come to him, Bracken decided he would take the food to the people."
Bracken's Kitchen is building a Trio of Services that will aid and support each other- their Rescued Food Program in conjunction with Culinary Mentorship Program support and supply their Food Truck Feeding Program with all that it needs. The Rescued Food Program partners with Chef’s To End Hunger "to use the excess prepared food that would normally go to waste in hotels, restaurants, and other foodservice operations to prepare nutritious and tasty meals for those who need it most. This program provides the perfect platform to train at risk young men and women for jobs in the culinary world, providing them not just a hand out but a true hand up to a better life".
"World hunger" can be such an evasive term, but it is a straightforward problem. A problem prevalent in our own backyard, with a need for not just any solution, but a nutritious one. To find out more on how you can help our community, visit www.brackenskitchen.com.