One Year of The Good Kitchen

It gives me great pleasure to be writing this report on The Good Kitchen. The kitchen launched on July the 31st 2021 and since then it has become a home to many people from the town of Mussomeli and for foreigners as well. The original intention for the kitchen was to provide a cooked meal for vulnerable people using food that was rescued from the supermarkets here in Mussomeli. We also launched a free lunch programme for people of the town to come and share a meal together. I am happy to report that The Good Kitchen has grown and developed and it has become much more than just a food delivery service.

Initially, it took some time for the residents of the town to understand what a community kitchen is and what services we offer. It was a great bonus to be able to launch in the main town square as residents were then able to see and learn about the kitchen. We started offering cooking classes for children and also music workshops. As well as this we hold events here in the kitchen to promote what we do and we also provide an opportunity for children and young people of the town to volunteer. Earlier this year we welcomed all of the families from Ukraine who moved here. We offer opportunities for the families to cook and share a meal together and also a safe haven for the children to play and connect with other children from the town. This report will delve further into our activities and also outline future plans. I am constantly in awe of the generosity and kindness that is shown by the people of this town. Since we first opened the doors, many people of the town have donated food and produce and also offered to help. People care about each other in this town and it gives me a great sense of joy to be able to provide a space for them to connect. I hope you enjoy reading this report as much as I enjoyed writing it.


What Happens at The Good Kitchen?

Up until recently we were cooking up to 100 meals a week. There has been a decrease in the number of families reaching out to us. I believe that in Summer they are not in as much need for food as they are in Winter. We have a core group of around 50 people who we cook for including all of the families from Ukraine. I cook meals on a Thursday and Sunday and deliver. Some of our families come and collect the meal from the kitchen. Every Thursday we collect free vegetables and fruit from the big wholesale market in Caltanisetta. The produce that we collect is free and it is considered second rate and mostly it would be thrown away. The produce, however, is perfectly fine to cook with here in the kitchen. We currently collect a car load of free produce and on Thursday morning we deliver food parcels to 6 families. We also deliver produce to the priests from the San Franciscan church in Piazza Umberto. They then distribute the food to refugees and immigrants in Caltanisetta. It is estimated that there is enough produce every week to feed between 30 to 40 people all having 5 meals.


During the second wave of Covid in January 2022, we posted a message on Facebook stating that we could provide a cooked meal for anyone who had to isolate. In three weeks we cooked and delivered 259 meals to 11 families. This was a major turning point for the kitchen because people from the town were able to see that we can help in challenging times. The Good Kitchen has provided a variety of educational classes for the local children. Every Saturday we host music workshops for children and provide lunch afterwards. As the young people prepare lunch, they also learn how to cook as well. The music workshops are a collaboration with our friend Laureano Messina who is a music conductor from Argentina.

The Good Kitchen has also become an important place for youth to complete their community service. One of our youth members served 5 months of their court ordered community service by volunteering with us. The young person was brilliant and it was a very successful arrangement benefitting both the young person and the kitchen. We are open to accepting other young people to do community service, however, it has to be the right fit and the young person needs to have the right attitude.


We have 5 young people (one aged 10) who regularly come and volunteer and help prepare the meals. Most of them now want to become chefs. They are learning how to cook and also giving back to the community as they deliver the meals to the vulnerable people of the town. We have received great feedback that the young people are gaining confidence and a deeper sense of purpose through having something positive to focus on in their community.

We have welcomed three tour groups to the kitchen for lunch and they were provided a presentation by the founder, Danny, explaining the work and mission of this project. Each of the groups made a donation. We also ran a textiles workshop collaborating with Barbara Guarducci and Chiara Guidi Elderly woman of the town worked with the young people of the town to produce a wall hanging for the kitchen.


Achievements

  • 3112 Meals cooked for vulnerable people

  • 136 Food parcels delivered, fresh vegetables & fruit. Each parcel has enough produce to feed 5 people / 5 meals

  • 34 non-perishable food parcels delivered to families from the supermarkets in Mussomeli

  • 259 cooked meals delivered to families who were isolating during the second wave of Covid-19 in January 2022

  • 10 children’s events including; cooking classes, picnics, English lessons, and music workshops. Through these events, over 150 children visited The Good Kitchen and learnt about our work in the community.

  • 30 refugees in Caltanisetta received food parcels of fresh produce every Thursday, delivered by the priests from the San Franciscan church. We started these deliveries in January 2022.

  • 10 priests from the San Franciscan church in Piazza Umberto receives fresh produce every Thursday

  • 14 free Sunday lunches, bringing over 210 people from around the world to the kitchen.

  • 150 home-made Christmas biscuits delivered to people of the town on Christmas Eve.



At the heart of The Good Kitchen is experiences. Our young volunteers get to experience what it is like to cook a meal and deliver it to other people who are often struggling in life. This has been a profound moment for the young people. The kitchen has also provided many opportunities for the people of Mussomeli to give back and donate produce. This gives them the experience of looking beyond their own world and helping others who are less fortunate. Every guest and person who visits the kitchen also experiences the joy of community and a project that is founded on love and connection through food.




How is the Kitchen Funded?

Danny ran a very successful Crowdfunding campaign in 2021 to raise money to launch the kitchen. Since then there has also been additional donations to the Association. 80% of the food that is cooked is either donated by the people of the town or collected from the market in Caltanisetta. The Good Kitchen is a registered Italian ASP – an association that promotes social projects. The association has 8 board members from Mussomeli – Frank Amico, Gianluca Nigrelli, Toti Nigrelli, Michelina Nucera, Nathalie Milazzo, Nicola Sola and Phil Kay. Danny McCubbin is the president of the association. In terms of monetary value, if each meal on average costs 2.50 euros and each food parcels costs 8 euros, we have delivered 8,427.50 euros worth of cooked food and 1,648 euros worth of food parcels, totalling 10,075.50 in savings to the state.


How much has the kitchen cost to set up and run for one year?

  • Rent – 1,800 euros

  • Utilities – 1,152 euros

  • Food – 1,572 euros

  • Equipment – 1678.28

  • TOTAL – 6,202.28


Possible Revenue Streams

•Donation platform on The Good Kitchen website

•Team building lunches and cooking classes for companies and brands

•Paid for course on how to set up a Community Kitchen. Students arrive from around the world and take an immersive course learning everything about the how the kitchen operates here in Mussomeli.

•The Good Kitchen merchandise









Feedback

“I am feeling more happy because here we help people in need and I love to eat the food that I cook with Danny.” Davide Caruso (volunteer aged 10)

“From the moment my son started coming to The Good Kitchen I noticed that he is much more polite, calm and speaking more English as well. He loves motocross, going to the beach and sport but he always finds time for the Good Kitchen, attending events held there and cooking.” Giuseppe Caruso (Davide’s Father)

“It’s nice to make new friends and lots of fun to be with Danny and help him in the kitchen. ” Anthony Cipollina (volunteer aged 11)

’It was good to meet Danny. I have always enjoyed volunteering and I have finally found my place here in The Good Kitchen. The language barrier does not matter as what unites us is the desire to help others. I have overcome my shyness and I am so happy to be a part of this community. ‘ Calogera Lanzalco (volunteer aged 66)

’Joining this association has been a real breath of fresh air for me. Here we don't just cook food… we create connections and give love and smiles. The Good Kitchen unites different cultures and brings people together from different social and economic realities. Here you can dance, sing, cook, and help yourself by helping others.’ Laura Genco (volunteer aged 27)

’I have noticed a big difference in them, their academic performance has improved and they are much more social. They are receptive and attentive during lessons and they are learning English in the kitchen. They speak very well about Danny and The Good Kitchen. Their self esteem has improved immensely.’ Vincenzo Barcellona (teacher of Nicholas and Francois Caruso, twins aged 13 and volunteers)

Sometimes you need new eyes to see the landscape, the town, the people and the food we grew up with. Sometimes you need a totally free spirit to show you the graciousness of love. Well, this to me and to the Anna Tasca Lanza cooking school, is Danny and his Good Kitchen. Fabrizia Lanza (Director – Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School)

"The Good Kitchen is an amazing space, entering it is like entering another planet. The kitchen has become for me the place of my freedom, a place where all difficulties recede.

I have made many friends and enjoyed many lunches as I have met interesting people from around the world. Danny has become a good and caring friend for me, I can’t imagine how I would have coped with all the difficulties without his good advice and delicious food." Vera from Ukraine

"Over a year ago Danny founded The Good Kitchen in a difficult and pandemic moment, it been a wealth for our city and continues to be so, it gave visibility to Mussomeli thanks to national and international TV. He welcomed many lonely, vulnerable people who needed a hot meal in a difficult moment. But the most lovely thing is that his young volunteers are loving the project and are always ready to help Danny and "their" kitchen. The Good Kitchen is more than a food delivery service and we learned what community is. Thank you Danny." Michelina Nucera, English teacher and volunteer


Looking to the Future and what to Focus On

  • Increase the number of cooking classes for children and run them on a regular basis.

  • Find a way to encourage more girls to volunteer in the kitchen as at the moment it is predominantly boys.

  • I have been asked to be the Sicilian Ambassador for Banco Alimentare By the end of this year the team at Banco Alimentare will arrange for The Good Kitchen to partner with Lidl and Eurospin here in Mussomeli and for the supermarkets to then donate surplus produce to the kitchen. This will mean that we will have a great deal of fresh food to distribute to many more families here in Mussomeli. We will need more fridges and freezers so that we can store and distribute the food. With the onset of winter and the increase in energy prices we will definitely be receiving more requests for food.


  • Provide a weekly sit down meal for the elderly people of the town who are alone. This meal will be for those elderly people who are alone and who are able to travel to the kitchen.

  • Employ a part time Kitchen Manager and Part Time Chef to help run the operation. In the meantime we will look at the possibility of linking up with the local hospitality college to offer part time work to students. The students can help teach the young volunteers who are currently cooking in the kitchen. The priority is to create employment opportunities for people from Mussomeli.

  • Create a website for the Association that has the facility for people to donate and also relevant information on it on how to set up a Community Kitchen.

  • Buy a refrigerated van for the collection and distribution of the food.


Sustainability - The Next Five Years

We are in the process of speaking to brands and companies about the possibility of securing funding to ensure that The Good Kitchen is sustainable for the next 5 years. We are also investigating possible EU grants and funding. Collaborating with Acri Strauss, we have applied for funding for 2 full time volunteers for the kitchen for 2023. Here is a breakdown of the predicted costs to run the kitchen over the next 5 years:

  • Rent – 21,000

  • Utilities – 8,000

  • Food – 9,500

  • Equipment – 8000

  • Wages – Part time Kitchen Manager / Part time Chef – 80,000

  • Refrigerated van & running costs – 15,000

  • Stationary / website / sundries – 5,000

  • TOTAL – 146,500 euros

Press

BBC Reel

SBS Australia Podcast

SBS Dateline

•Documentary commissioned with Arte TV in Germany on the Community Kitchen – aired April 2022

•Featured in the Christmas edition of Suitcase magazine 2021

Telegraph Weekend Magazine

I News

Rai News Italy

Repubblica Palermo

TV 2000 Italy

Washington Post

•Over 15 articles across the world on the Community Kitchen - South America, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

•Sept 14, Filmed with Clive Myrie for his 15 part Italian series that airs on BBC 2, airs 2023

Instagram – @dannyforgood 32,000 followers

Twitter – @dannymccubbin 5,230 followers

YouTube – 11,800 subscribers


THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS SUPPORTED THE GOOD KITCHEN OVER THE LAST YEAR.


Special thanks to The Antonio Carluccio Foundation for the donation.

Thank you as well to Davide & Carlo and all of the team at Perle Verdi in Caltanisetta for the weekly donation of surplus fruit and vegetables