Hudson’s two Head Start classrooms will now receive daily lunches prepared by chefs Tommy Carlucci and Kathy Silliman who recently joined CCRK. Tina Sharpe, executive director of Columbia Opportunities, announced the partnership saying: “We were not entirely satisfied with the quality or quantity of the meals provided by our former caterers, especially after our teachers reported that the children weren’t eating their lunches. We knew that CCRK was offering fresh, healthy and high-quality foods with much of it donated by local farms and producers, and reached out to them.”
The result! Five days a week, Head Start children, some as young as two years old, are eating lunches prepared in the CCRK kitchens and picked up by Head Start staff. But before the school year even began, chefs Carlucci and Silliman sat down with Head Start teachers to discuss what food children like but more importantly, what they disliked! Not only that, they prepared sample meals for the staff to taste.
As Sharpe points out, for many of the children, this is the first foods they have eaten that has not been prepared at home and for some, this is the main meal of the day. The big takeaway, which according to chefs Carlucci and Silliman is universal, is that young children do not like mixtures or even foods that touch. “For instance,” says Sharp, “the kids like spaghetti and they like meatballs but they will always be served separately.”
The hope is that the Head Start/CCRK partnership will expand to the other four Columbia County towns, Chatham, Taconic Hills, Valatie and Philmont. “We are so pleased to expand our reach, “says Carole Clark, one of the founders of CCRK, particularly for young children who don’t always have access to local and fresh foods. This is a win win for everyone.”
We are so excited to announce the CCRK Gleaning Program! This is an opportunity to create a sense of connection to our community, land and food, and to have fun while also taking care and learning about farmland. Volunteers will partake in and learn about harvesting, weeding, planting, watering, and seeding throughout the season. It is a great opportunity to learn, connect with others, and have fun. And of course, help give our CCRK recipients the opportunity to eat and enjoy healthy, freshly harvested produce that is delicious.
Our first participating farm is Common Hands Farm, a certified naturally grown farm in Philmont, NY that has been in production since 2011, growing diverse vegetables, herbs, microgreens and a few fruits in biodynamic soil. They also raise pastured eggs. Owners Dan McManus and Keri-Sue Lewis have a CSA (community supported agriculture), they sell to local and regional stores and restaurants, and attend local farmers markets. Their farm is roughly 24 acres with the Agawamuck Creek running through it on Martindale Road (County Route 11). The farm is community oriented, with a mission to create connections with local people and food through CSA membership, volunteer and learning programs, community events, and employment opportunities. They believe that food is medicine and everyone should have access to healthy, delicious, locally grown food in Columbia County and beyond. https://www.commonhandscsa.com
To learn more about our Gleaning Program and to sign up to participate, please reach out to our intrepid Nancy Kuster, who is organizing the initiative, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
CCRK is thrilled that Dirty Dog Farm, a 100% Grass Fed and Grass Finished Beef Farm in Germantown, has come up with a new customer opportunity that benefits CCRK and rewards those in our community for all you do.
Customers can use the code CCRK2023 at checkout when signing up for Dirty Dog’s Grass Fed Beef Spring Harvest (at this link). This link will save you $50 on a Beef Share AND every time the code is used Dirty Dog will donate 5 pounds of beef to CCRK. It’s a true win-win put together by some amazingly gifted and generous farms.
Farmers and producers who contribute food for meals served each week by the Columbia County Recovery Kitchen were recognized at an event on March 18 at Christ Church Episcopal where the kitchen used to prepare the food each week is located.
Started in the beginning of COVID by Carole Clark and Pam Kline to address food insecurity in the county, the all-volunteer organization with its chef, the only paid employee, has grown from delivering 200 meals a week to over 1150. And it has done so without reliance on commodity or USDA surplus food. Working with the local agricultural community , CCRK now has relationships with over 26 farms. “It is the CCRK’s connection to the land and the farms that makes us different,” says Kline.
According to chef Tommy Carlucci, “Very often we don’t know what’s coming into our kitchen each week. There might be greens from Wally Farm or pork from Fat Apple Farm. The product is always fresh, well raised and exciting to work with. It allows for creativity and the pleasure of knowing that we are providing healthy and good tasting meals to our recipients.” The menu featured dishes highlighting some of the donated foods including Swedish meat balls, beer braised beef kielbasa, pulled pork sliders, mini frittatas and pork belly with hoisin sauce, farmstead cheese and local beers.
“The party was a grand, beautiful team effort and important event for CCRK, “said Clarkewho from the start said: “We are not going to deliver food that I would not serve in my restaurant or home. A significant expression of our appreciation for the farmers who make this happen was long overdue.”
We concluded our annual Thanks4Giving fund drive last week and we can’t say it enough: Thank you!! Because of your generosity, we exceed the amount raised last year and will now be able to continue expanding the number of households we serve in Columbia County. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
And we would also like to extend the most heartfelt thank you to the foundations that awarded us grants during this fundraising cycle as well. Those include: Hudson River Bank and Trust Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation Broadway Cares Key Bank Utopia Foundation Abbatacola Foundation Dyson Foundation Walmart Reinhart Foundation Berkshire Bank The Ackerman Family Foundation and Price Chopper!
Columbia County Recovery Kitchen hosted an old-fashioned backyard barbecue on Saturday, August 14, to thank its more than 90 dedicated volunteers who work to help vulnerable neighbors with food insecurity. Recovery Kitchen volunteers are drivers, schedulers, distribution staff, cooks, kitchen staff, and advisors working in the areas of fundraising, communication, grant writing and data collection. The event was held at the home of Carole Clark, Recovery Kitchen founder and long-time Hudson restaurateur.
“After 17 months of phone calls, text messages and Zoom meetings, our Recovery Kitchen organizers and volunteers finally were able to meet in person,” said Ms. Clark, continuing, “We had to delay this long-awaited, in-person gathering due to COVID restrictions.”
Recovery Kitchen’s large number of volunteers have diverse backgrounds. Many have moved to the Hudson Valley from either coast, with careers spanning a wide range of industries including fashion, finance, food and cookbook writing, law, publishing, newspaper reporting and nonprofit management. The artworld is represented among the volunteers too, from art dealers and artists to those from the music and entertainment industry.
The celebratory barbeque menu included grilled vegetables, burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, panzanella salad, watermelon feta salad and grilled peaches, all prepared by Recovery Kitchen Chef Jamie Parry. David Drake, a Recovery Kitchen volunteer, created festive beverages. Musical entertainment was provided by Rachel Weisman on vocals, accompanied by Jody Rael on guitar.
Recovery Kitchen, a local 501c3 public charity, opened its doors in April 2020. With the help of a fiscal sponsor and a church kitchen, two creative restaurant chefs, Jamie Parry (SWOON Kitchenbar) and John Carr (Le Perche) and their colleagues, they created 200 meals each week. By late summer, they were cooking and delivering 900 meals each week throughout the county. County social services and schools helped to identify people in need. Recovery Kitchen thrives due to the generosity and spirit of the community, including local farmers who donate freshly harvested vegetables and fruit, meat and cheese.
In thanking the volunteers, Ms. Clark recounted the organization’s origin story. “Initially planning the mechanics of Recovery Kitchen, I thought that finding people to cook and deliver the meals would be the biggest challenge. To our surprised delight, the response was overwhelming,” she said. “We are a truly dedicated and caring community, eager to work together to provide nutritious and delicious meals to Columbia County residents struggling with food insecurity. Since April 2020, we have delivered more than 50,000 meals. Recovery Kitchen is only possible because of all of you.”
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer for Recovery Kitchen can sign up here.
On Saturday, July 10th, Recovery Kitchen hosted a garden party fundraiser, Planting Seeds to End Hunger, to support its work fighting food insecurity with nutrition security. More than 80 guests enjoyed a sunny afternoon in a Spencertown garden to celebrate community efforts to help Columbia County residents in need.
The afternoon opened with longtime Hudson restaurateur and Recovery Kitchen founder, Carole Clark, explaining her inspiration for preparing and delivering healthy meals to hungry, vulnerable people in the county — children, the elderly on their own, the unemployed, and working people who can’t make ends meet. “I realized what the impact of the pandemic would be on people in Hudson and Columbia County, and could only think about those who would be hit the hardest, people who were food insecure in the best of times.”
Recovery Kitchen, a local 501c3 public charity, opened its doors in April 2020. With the help of a fiscal sponsor and a church kitchen, two creative restaurant chefs, Jamie Parry (SWOON Kitchenbar) and John Carr (Le Perche) and their colleagues, they created 200 meals each week and by late summer were delivering 950 meals each week. County social services and schools helped to identify people in need. Recovery Kitchen thrives due to the generosity and spirit of the community. A team of more than 100 volunteers cook and clean, coordinate between the meal producers and drivers, and drive all over the county to deliver meals in 26 towns.
Recovery Kitchen is supported by local farmers who donate freshly harvested vegetables and fruit, meat and cheese. In addition, a food recovery program, called Long Table Harvest, helps to close the food loop through sustainable farm surplus redistribution. One of the local farmers, Harold Hilton, owner of Earth Tapestry Farm and Grow in Harmony Community Garden, discussed his farm’s approach to giving back to the community and his use of regenerative agriculture techniques to improve sustainability.
“Much of our time and effort goes to creating and nurturing the soil. We ensure it is healthy and full of nutrients to support plants and their interdependent microbiotic communities,” said Mr. Hilton, continuing, “Our Grow In Harmony Community Garden, assisted by the most amazing volunteers from our community, has provided thousands of pounds of produce for the past 1.5 years and the primary recipient is the Recovery Kitchen.”
Despite the economy showing signs of bouncing back and local businesses reopening, the need for Recovery Kitchen’s services is continuing. The team continues to work with the county to identify people who would benefit from Recovery Kitchen’s services and has expanded the program to take referrals from community members as well as self-referrals. The organization’s goal is to increase the number of meal recipients and the number of meals served to some recipients. The Recovery Kitchen team also plans to develop ways to educate the community about the importance of diet and nutrition to prevent and treat some chronic diseases.
In addition to selling tickets for the event, a silent auction offered baskets of goods donated by local farmers and food purveyors. The 17 donors (in alphabetical order) were: Bimi’s, Churchtown Dairy, Copake Farmers Market, Germantown Laundromat, Golden Harvest, Hearty Roots, Hudson Winery, Lawlor’s Package Store, Melinda Wax Designs, Olde Hudson, Otto’s Market, Random Harvest, Sadhana Yoga, Talbott and Arding, Tierra Farm, Verdigris, and Yandik’s Farm.
“From the very beginning, it was and is the outpouring of support from the community, that enables us to provide delicious, nutrient-rich meals to people who were food and nutrition insecure before Covid and who will continue to be after Covid,” said Ms. Clark. “We are grateful for the generosity of our donors and are ever thankful for our amazing army of dedicated volunteers who all support our ability to continue serving those in need in our community.”
Anyone interested in supporting Recovery Kitchen can do so here.