I am thrilled to be writing this report to celebrate the second year anniversary of The Good Kitchen. When I launched The Good Kitchen on the 31t of July 2021 I really had no idea that in 2 years the kitchen would become a home to so many people here in Mussomeli. At the time I knew that there was food that was ready to be rescued and people who needed a cooked meal. I envisaged at the time that I would be rescuing food and then using that food to cook for vulnerable people of the town. It was a challenging time back then as we were still in various stages of isolation due to the pandemic. In hindsight, this was a positive for me as I was able to do some research to find people of the town to cook for. The original intention of the kitchen has not changed over the last 2 years. I rescue food and then use that food for good. Sharing a meal together or cooking for someone is one of the greatest joys in life and it gives me great pleasure to share all of the joy from The Good Kitchen from the last year.
Our greatest achievement over the last year has been the trust that we have developed with the people who we look after and also our volunteers. Every Sunday the young volunteers come to the kitchen to cook and also to deliver the lunches. Some of the families come and sit in the kitchen hours before the food is ready on a Sunday. I always have music playing and every Sunday there are many young volunteers here helping to prepare the meal. The families sit and chat and enjoy each other’s company. These moments give me a great sense of joy because I know that for many of the families coming here on a Sunday is the highlight of the week for them. I am also so proud of the young people who have made the kitchen their home. Many of them have been coming to the kitchen ever since we first opened the doors. Sometimes I will be sitting here in the kitchen working and the young people will call in for some fruit or just to say hello. One of our volunteers brings so much joy to the kitchen every time is here. His name is Marco and when he first started coming to the kitchen he would just sit outside and observe what was happening. Now he helps me out and he always has a seat at our table when we cook lunch for everyone. I have so much respect for Marco. He often takes care of the little things at our lunches that no one else is aware of, pouring water for our guests and ensuring that everyone feels welcome. The common thread that binds all of these beautiful souls together is the fact that when they come to the kitchen they are seen and heard and loved.
I always say to myself that at the heart of the kitchen is the connection that we have with the people who we look after and our volunteers. For me, the results of what we do are very tangible. I know in my heart that I have helped the young people light a fire within and from that place, they will shine. Our young volunteers not only cook meals for vulnerable people but they also deliver the meal as well. I am mindful as well that I don’t want the kitchen to get much bigger than it already is because for me it is crucial that we always maintain this connection with the people who we look after.
Snapshot of the last 2 years:
5,867 cooked meals delivered
1,482 people have sat down and shared a meal together at the kitchen
284 fresh food parcels have been delivered (each parcel has enough food to feed 5 people for 5 days)
Over 200 children have come to the kitchen for cooking classes, music lessons and events
This year we delivered more fresh food parcels to families here in Mussomeli. There was an increase in the number of people who joined us for a meal and a decrease in the actual number of meals that we delivered. This decrease does not concern me because at the end of the day I know that many Italians prefer too cook their own food. It makes sense then that we have had an increase in the demand for fresh food parcels. I am very happy to announce as well that we have started to deliver fresh food parcels to families in surrounding towns like Acquaviva and Campofranco. This year we also started a partnership with Banco Alimentare, Italy’s largest food rescue charity. Through this partnership we now collect surplus food from Lidl and Eurospin 3 times a week. For me this is such a brilliant step forward as it means that I don’t have to drive to Caltanisetta every week to collect surplus produce from the wholesale fruit and vegetable market. Previously I was doing this every week.
The last year:
Meals delivered – 2,496
Meals served in the kitchen – 636
Food parcels delivered – 148
Food parcels delivered to refugees in Caltanissetta – 12 (approximately 260 meals)
Children’s cooking classes – 8 (over 50 children attended)
Events (music workshops, karaoke, parties) – 16 (over 30 children attended and over 35 adults)
Since we launched the kitchen I have loved welcoming people from all over the world. We have also had some very special guests who visited us and within no time they became a part of The Good Kitchen family. Gabby Trifletti came all the way from Melbourne to spend sometime with us as she is writing and researching about community food based projects. Gabby threw herself into life here in Mussomeli and she made many good friends along the way. It was also such a pleasure to welcome Iona Lawrence to the kitchen as well, a good friend from London. Iona arrived here on a Churchill scholarship to research projects that foster social inclusion between people of all ages. Iona helped me immensely when she was here to formulate the framework for our plans to create an online hub that will help people from all over the world to start a community kitchen. Iona captured the essence of The Good Kitchen beautifully, you can read her case study here.
Partnering with our friends at Acri Strauss we have applied for a grant with the European Commission to have 2 full time volunteers here at The Good Kitchen. This is very exciting as it means that I will have more time to focus on some very important projects for the kitchen. We need a website for the kitchen and also a facility for people to be able to make a donation. Next year we will have a second round of fundraising and the main focus of this will be to have paid staff running the kitchen. I am always mindful to share the responsibility of running the kitchen with a team. We are also going to create a 3 month cooking class for young people of the town. When we ran the cooking classes earlier this year we had quite a few students wanting to learn more cooking skills. Now that the foundation is firmly laid for the kitchen I am also looking into taking everything that I have learnt online. The plan is to share the blueprint of what I have done here so that other people anywhere in the world can start their own community kitchen. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this beautiful story and a special thank you to the people of Mussomeli who have taken The Good Kitchen into their hearts. A special thanks to all of our brilliant volunteers. We would never have been able to achieve this success without your help and dedication.