In the spring of 2020, countless nonprofits leapt into action and did what they could to serve the community with stop gap measures – food distributions, food vouchers, grocery deliveries. Yet, for Kitchens for Good, it had always been about more. The nonprofit sought to provide a means for those who suffer from hunger and food insecurity to reach economic self-sufficiency through jobs that pay a sustainable wage. At KFG, apprentices who have experienced previous trauma or barriers to employment train to become chefs, bakers, and front of house staff. That was until the COVID-19 pandemic decimated nearly 80,000 food industry jobs in San Diego alone.
Kitchens for Good faced an identity crisis. Were their means of empowering individuals to reach economic self-sufficiency no longer viable with restaurants shuttered and no large catering events on the horizon? It was in this moment, the nonprofit was selected as an SVP Investee, beginning two years in which Partners would help the organization define its place (in the Kitchen) and strengthen its identity through sustainable, adaptive programming able to withstand even a pandemic.
The team, led by Michael Dowlan and comprised of Partners Jaci Feinstein, Marty Goodman, Pat Kaufman, Laura Rehrmann, Paul Rosenstein, Scott Tritt, and Tom Watlington worked closely with CEO Jennifer Gilmore on a series of strategic exercises that led to the creation of a three-year strategic vision for the organization. Out of this vision, two new social enterprise programs were born: Kitchens for Good SHOP and Kitchens for Good WORKS. The former, a store-front location in Pacific Beach selling pre-loved kitchenware and the latter, a staffing agency for graduated apprentices seeking employment in the culinary, baking, and food service management sectors.
Two years later, Kitchens for Good is set to double its revenue in the next year and boasts a full kitchen of apprentices with 82 graduates in 2022. “SVP gave us structure and guidance during a period that felt like complete chaos. They helped us to make hard decisions during a pivotal moment in the organization’s history. We’ve now doubled down on our identity as “Kitchens,” and our earned revenue streams are complementing the hospitality sector,” shared CEO Jennifer Gilmore. Restaurants are open, tables are full, and individuals are once again able to gain dignified employment and a livable wage in the industry. Kitchens is here to stay.
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