The strength of community has always been at the forefront of The Connected Chef and our work. We have always worked collaboratively, understood the disparity that we see in regards to food access across NYC, and know that something needs to be done to tip the scales.
Pre COVID-19, we focused on education in the kitchen. We knew that there was a disconnect between where our food came from and how it was prepared. We knew that disconnect also translated to not knowing how to cook and utilize fresh ingredients enough, so we began with teaching families how to cook with their senses. We taught parents how to utilize ingredients that they had without having to go out and buy fancy things. We taught kids that how you cook your vegetables changes their flavor and yields some pretty delicious choices. We taught families how to take a breath together, step away from their busy day, and focus on one another, in the kitchen, around a good meal.
This work is still very much at the soul of who we are and what we do. However, in March 2020 things changed drastically.
Post COVID-19, we were given the opportunity to reflect even deeper on what community is and what our community needs. Immigrant and working-class neighbors struggled to feed themselves and their families and were contracting COVID-19 at higher rates than other communities. Food access was of utmost importance. With the knowledge that food is medicine, we needed to put all else aside and focus on bringing healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients to families in Queens.
Today we serve over 700 families with our Lifeline Grocery program. However, our work has continued beyond that as well.
We currently act as a distribution center for many other mutual aid groups across Queens, to ensure that food gets from local farms to as many families as possible. Together, we distribute over 60+ pounds of food each week. Through community and collective action, we are able to impact our community in a deeper way.
For the future?
As always, we are continuing to improve our programs, reflect on how we are of service, and ensure that the current work we do is holistic and grounded in good ways. As a 90% volunteer-run, non-profit organization, we have some work ahead of us.
We plan to strengthen our worker-led programming and deepen our impact so that we can better serve our current recipients and community with continued dignity and respect.
In the new year to come, we will be bringing back our education support for all of our grocery recipients, as well as virtual offerings to learn more about how to prepare the food you get each week.
We are excited about this work and for those involved in making this all happen. We are the power of us.