NPR logo Kitchen Visionaries: Individuals and Organizations Changing the World One Meal at a Time

Kitchen Visionaries: Individuals and Organizations Changing the World One Meal at a Time

We have received many calls and letters from listeners telling us about people and community organizations that are doing great work. Here are but a few of the many folks that we’ve found or that have found us.

Forgotten Harvest is a food rescue organization in Detroit. What

we do is rescue perishable food that otherwise would be thrown away, and we take that food to local soup kitchens, shelters and pantries in metro

Detroit. You may or may not be aware, but there is an almost universal national policy amongst grocery store chains to dispose of perishable, surplus products. The industry standard that goes to waste every day is about 400 pounds per grocery store, per day. Here in Detroit, our local grocery chain agreed to donate that perishable food to us for distribution to the food kitchens, shelters and pantries. We're talking about 68 grocery stores, 400 pounds per day — over 7 million pounds of food per year. That's 7 million meals that we're taking into inner-city Detroit.

— Susan - Detroit

Operation Sack Lunch could share some great stories. They serve in so many different ways: street feeding, running the kitchen for a school for homeless kids, delivering meals to other non-profits that need food. They have a story of a mentally ill man who kept a journal that his family found when he died. In the journal he documents how important each meal from Operation Sack Lunch was to him.

—Victoria, western Washington

Coming this fall, Hidden Kitchens joins the wild rice harvest on the lakes of the Anishinabe tribes of Minnesota to show how one tribe is supporting itself and changing the diet of its people through their community kitchen projects. The mission of the White Earth Land Recovery Project is to facilitate recovery of the original land base of the White Earth Indian Reservation, while preserving and restoring traditional practices of sound land stewardship, language fluency, community development and strengthening our spiritual and cultural heritage.

Sixth Street Photography Workshop is committed to sharing the art and skills of photography with homeless and low-income adults and youth. Take a look at their 12-year archive of images documenting the low-income and homeless community.

Caller Barbara Rowland, who teaches nutrition at a Tacoma, Wash., high school, worries that the tradition of healthy, home cooked food is being lost in the upcoming generation: "A few years ago, I had a student that had never had food cooked in her house. Somebody picked it up on the way home every day."

Meanwhile, the folks at Edible Schoolyard get their hands dirty, trying to reverse that trend. In collaboration with Martin Luther King Junior Middle School, Edible Schoolyard provides urban public school students with a one-acre organic garden and a kitchen classroom. Using food systems as a unifying concept, students learn how to grow, harvest and prepare nutritious seasonal produce. Experiences in the kitchen and garden foster a better understanding of how the natural world sustains us, and promote the environmental and social well being of our school community.

More 'Hidden Kitchens'