FareStart and our Catalyst Kitchens members have served as a beacon of hope for communities across the country throughout the COVID-19 crisis over the last year, stepping up to support our most vulnerable neighbors. We have seen endless innovation and determination from our Catalyst Kitchens network, that have put it all on the line to serve their communities. As we recognize one year since the beginning of the pandemic, we want to shine a light on some of the hard work and creative solutions happening throughout our network to serve millions of meals and clients.
FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens network is finding new, innovative ways to train their students during the current crisis. While we try to limit physical interaction and stay physically distant to keep others safe, programs are discovering creative strategies for training students in culinary skills virtually or within a hybrid training model. As of August 2020, 74% of our network is offering a virtual or hybrid job training model.
The hunger crisis in the United States is not a new phenomenon. In early 2020, national food insecurity was at its lowest point in over 20 years, a decisive win for those working to bring necessary means to individuals with low incomes. And then, COVID hit. The anvil onto all hunger relief and economic empowerment efforts to close the gap between the food insecure and security. Now over 50 million people may struggle to put food on their table.
When hitting a rough patch in life, a listening ear and compassionate spirit can make all the difference. Meet Carla Domingo, workforce development employment navigator at Forge City Works, a longtime restauranteur turned teacher and counselor for youth and adult culinary training students. She has walked alongside students for six years throughout their transition from student to intern to employee and is our 2019 Catalyst for Change Award winner.
FareStart's Catalyst Kitchens members have produced millions of meals for those hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis, calling for increased resources and funding to support these efforts. Through the generous support of the Kristof Impact Initiative and long-time funder Focusing Philanthropy, we are excited to announce that we are regranting over 1 million dollars to 36 member organizations to support their hunger relief efforts.
We have a passion for food here at Catalyst Kitchens. We love its many dimensions – how it brings people together around the same table to share a meal, that it invokes creativity and curiosity in chefs new and old, and can open doors for many to a meaningful career preparing delicious food for others. In partnership with the Jacques Pepin Foundation, we welcome four new Catalyst Kitchens members through the JPF scholarship program to support their COVID-19 response efforts.
The disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic is reverberating through our Catalyst Kitchens member network and the thousands of lives that utilize their services. Through crisis comes opportunities for communities to band together to take care of those in need during these unprecedented times. Through their #GiveTogetherNow campaign from the Stand Together Foundation and Family Independence Initiative, we received $175,000 in cash assistance for families most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The world is now online, whether we like it or not. As Catalyst Kitchens programs adapt to the digital world to practice safe social distancing, we’re seeking ways to continue to connect, learn, and move forward despite temporary closures. Find some new ways to conduct online meetings, classrooms, social services, and culinary instructional videos to keep students learning despite distance.
The CARES Act passed in Congress on Friday provides $2 trillion in COVID-19 Disaster Relief funds to small businesses and nonprofits to recover losses experienced during business closures and higher demand for social support services.
Our realities have changed seemingly overnight. While we practice social distancing, it is easy to lose sight of how this outbreak is affecting our community outside of our homes. Catalyst Kitchens members are on the front lines of relief efforts for those directly affected by this crisis, including low-income & food insecure populations. Here are some ways you can support those most affected by the outbreak.