Kitchens for Good

Responsible consumption




Location: San Diego, USA

Sector: Manufacturing – Transformation, Sales and service

Date of creation: 2014

Analysis by the association: Avril 2018

A community kitchen which breaks the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger.


Kitchens for Good (KFG) is a nonprofit social enterprise that was founded by the executive chef and restaurateur Chuck Samuelson in 2014. While working at some of San Diego’s premiere restaurants, Samuelson was shocked by the enormous amount of food being wasted while many in the community lacked access to nutritious food. Samuelson turned toward his mentor, Robert Egger, who pioneered the country’s first “community kitchen” models in Washington DC and Los Angeles.

In just two years, KFG has :

  • Trained 117 individuals for jobs in the culinary industry;
  • Achieved a 90% employment rate post-graduation at jobs where students earn an average wage of $13 per hour;
  • Rescued 37,010 pounds of surplus food and turned it into 33,882 nutritious meals for the homeless, at-risk youth, and homebound seniors;


Developed a strong social enterprise catering operation that has generated $2.4 million in earned income and catered over 980 events.

  • Responsible consumption

The company distributes healthy meals from products that are intended to be thrown away, this approach encourages the reduction of food waste. It also employs and trains people in culinary careers for people with professional integration difficulties, consuming their products encourages the reintegration of these people.

  • Extension of product lifespan

Products that are unsuitable for distribution to individuals, because they are ugly or a little old-fashioned, see their lifespan extended thanks to Kitchen for Goods. They are recovered, cooked and finally redistributed, so they do not have to be thrown away.

  • Recycling

KFG gives a second life to products destined for the garbage can, it recycles them into tasty meals to be distributed to food insecure people.

Project operation

Mr. Samuelson’s goal was to build a program in San Diego that would not only rescue surplus food from being wasted and prepare healthy meals for the food insecure, but would prepare people perceived as “unemployable” for careers in the culinary industry.

Kitchen for good fights against 4 main problems through 4 different projects:

By reducing Food Waste through the recovering of surplus and “ugly” produce from local farmers and wholesalers donations. All food donations are gathered at the kitchen where students, staff and volunteers sort, glean, and clean produce.

Coping with Unemployment, by offering a tuition-free, 12-week certified culinary apprenticeship program to people with barriers to employment and wanting to start a career in the culinary and hospitality industry. At the same time they turn produce into healthy meals.

Providing Food Security (access to healthy food) by preparing and distributing healthy meals to feed vulnerable populations of San Diego.

Dealing with Securing Funds by generating revenues through Catering and Events services, contract meal services, and a retail product line, creating job training opportunities for culinary students with all profits going back to support their programs.

Figure 1. Kitchens For Good concept

Sustainable approach

  • KFG allows to reduce food waste, they reclaim food through donations coming from prominent wholesalers, local farmers. All food donations are collected by truck and are gathered at their kitchen. Thus, unsold food are not sent to the landfill, burned or incinerated ; reducing greenhouse gas and the carbon footprint of these products.
  • Waste of kitchen are given to a farm for free, called Agua Dulce, used as an organic amendment.
  • Meals packaging is compostable, it’s an eco-product.


In fiscal year 2017/2018, the company is projected to rescue 60 000 lbs of food that might otherwise go to waste.

The non-profit part allows to prepare meals at lower costs:

  • Unsold food originate from their partnerships’ donations;
  • Chefs are in a apprenticeship program, their salary is lower than employees’ salary.


The business part covers all expenses to support their mission through:

  • Catering and retail products;
  • In-kind donations and;
  • Contributions and grant reimbursements.

Figure 2. Economic budget of the year 2016/2017

  • The culinary job training program serves individuals who are experiencing significantly high unemployment rates: formerly incarcerated adults, foster youth transitioning out of the system, victims of domestic violence, individuals with mental health disorders and individuals with histories of substance abuse. It’s a free formation.
  • In March 2018, the program was approved by the state of California as a “Certified Culinary Apprenticeship program”. Students earn while they learn, and gain a valuable accreditation for their hard work. Students spend 5-15 hours every week working in the catering and retail operation to gain valuable on the job training experience.
  • Students and volunteers realize nutritious meals which are distributed to 7 local social service agencies for San Diego’s most vulnerable populations : hungry families, homebound seniors, and the homeless. They are also used as a tool by partner agencies for case management, holiday celebrations, literacy training and family unification.

Replicability & future perspectives

Everywhere in the world, some of the food ends up in landfills whereas there is not enough food to feed the population ! There are also unemployed persons or persons out of the system, everywhere. That’s why this initiative can be reproduce everywhere, without difficulty, as it has already been the case in Los Angeles and also in France (see our other article, Projet BACAME – Banques Alimentaires).

Activities of preparing nutritious meals from surplus food associated with job trainings are complementary. The business part is essential for the initiative economic sustainability, creating job training opportunities for culinary students; it seems to be a successful economic strategy.

There are, however, a few limitations:

  • Meals must be adapted to the type and quantity of products recovered. For the moment, Kitchens for Good has to buy products (such as meat) to supplement meals and provide balanced meals.
  • Maintain partnerships with farmers and wholesalers and retain food service customers.

They try to develop exports, especially towards North Carolina and why not reproduce this initiative in other cities.

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