MISSION Kitchen Commons matches kitchen resources with community need, making it affordable and practical to cook healthy food, putting the dream of a food business in reach of low-income entrepreneurs, and advocating for food justice.
ABOUT We are building the kitchen commons: a network of community kitchens in every neighborhood. Community kitchens are places where neighbors of all ages and backgrounds come together to make and share meals, learn from each other about cooking and preserving the harvest, and nurture small food businesses. They can be hosted by faith organizations, schools, community and senior centers, businesses and nonprofits. They can be certified for particular purposes, but many activities don’t require certification or special equipment.
The role of Kitchen Commons is to support, develop, and promote these kitchen spaces. By fostering the development of lots of different kinds of kitchens, we can help meet evolving needs in different communities. We do this by connecting neighborhood kitchen organizers with resources, creating opportunities to network and share ideas, and advocating for policies that facilitate the development and use of community kitchens.
VISION We envision communities free from hunger, with widespread basic cooking, meal-planning and grocery buying skills, and easy access to well-equipped spaces so that all people can prepare healthy meals. Everyone is regularly cooking, eating and preserving what they grow with family, friends and neighbors. We are bridging the gap between generations and tapping into our cultural wisdom by preserving and transferring community food knowledge. We are building community wealth and creating jobs by incubating the food business dreams of those who otherwise couldn’t afford to fulfill them. We have a just, democratic food system that ensures everyone is treated fairly and has a voice.
HISTORY A few NE Portland neighbors interested in community kitchens as a tool for addressing hunger and food security met by way of the Alberta Co-op Grocery. We had a kick-off event (a Community FEAST in partnership with Oregon Food Bank and Alberta Co-op) on November 7th, 2010 where we tried to get everyone in our area who's interested in these topics in the room together to share ideas and come up with the beginnings of action plans. We had about 50 attendees and lots of great conversations. Our original breakout groups were:
- Creating a dedicated community kitchen in NE Portland or other neighborhoods
- Creating lending circles for canning and preserving equipment
- Supporting the development of community kitchens throughout the city, including helping congregations, schools and neighborhood centers fully utilize existing resources
- Identifying the need: is a community kitchen or food preservation network really a good tool for addressing hunger/food insecurity?
- Community kitchens as a tool for for building community wealth through microenterprise projects
- What's the best organizational structure for supporting our projects? An informal voluntary association, a cooperative or community-supported model, an independent nonprofit, a project of an existing nonprofit?
A smaller group met again in January and decided on the priority action steps of conducting an inventory of potential kitchen spaces and developing a resource guide to help groups interested in opening up their kitchens. Since then, we've been tackling these projects and more as volunteers! In September, 2011 we incorporated as a nonprofit and officially became a project of the Charitable Partnership Fund to help us begin to raise funds and develop our work plans. We recruited our first fabulous interns who have helped move things along.