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.
This apprentice model is on the rise among our network and is particularly effective for youth to gain valuable work experience in a safe learning environment. In partnership with Jobs for the Future, three Catalyst Kitchens youth member programs have been selected for the Modernization of Apprenticeship for Opportunity Youth Initiative to advance their apprenticeship programs with expert coaches and consultations.
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.
We may need to be socially distant, but we are not socially disconnected. Our members, their leadership, their volunteers, and their donors are on the front lines of this crisis to take care of the most vulnerable. And they never stop surprising us with the larger than life innovations they’re developing to take care of their communities.
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.
Thank You: A message from Catalyst Kitchens Manager Director & VP of National Initiatives Renee Martin on the steadfast response efforts around the network and how we are working to be a resource to member programs.