Recovery Kitchen Turns 1!

birthday cake with candle celebrating 1st birthday
Design support thanks to Alison Matheny and BEST

The COLUMBIA COUNTY RECOVERY KITCHEN was founded on April 13, 2020 in response to the profound food insecurity spreading across our county in the wake of the pandemic. 

NOW WE ARE 1 YEAR OLD!

What a year this has been for all of us.

It has been 365 days filled with fear of COVID, joy at the distances we have covered together, and  appreciation of neighbors, family, friends and all the folks who do the good work of helping to feed those less fortunate than we are.

At the very start of the pandemic Carole Clark, who worked in the restaurant industry feeding people for ages, set about finding a new way to feed folks in need. And six weeks after lockdown began, Carole had RECOVERY KITCHEN up and running. The first week they served 200 free meals. All of this happened because of the vigorous, dedicated help of an army of volunteers and participating organizations.

Chef Jamie Parry from Swoon and John Carr, the chef from Le Perche, headed up the cooking. Two local churches (Christ Church Episcopal and First Presbyterian Church) offered a space to cook and a non-profit fiscal umbrella so that RECOVERY KITCHEN could raise funds. Pam Kline took the lead on finding drivers and recipients. Jamison Teale organized the meal distribution. Carol Peckham set up a GoFundMe account for start-up monies.  The first food insecure households were referred from the Sanctuary Movement, Social Services, Head Start, Reach and county schools.

EVERYONE STEPPED UP.                                           

In our first year, we have delivered more than 50,000 meals to families in need.  

It was a lot of work. And it still is, but the rewards are enormous.

COVID has been a tough time for everyone, a long bad moment. Our kitchen, is called RECOVERY because that is our path back, and the way get there is through the kindness and generosity of others.

This birthday celebration is for everyone who has cooked, driven miles in snow delivering meals, sent a donation, or called to check on folks to make sure that all of us know we matter.

ALL OF US.

Because all of us are recovering together from a challenging year.

So Happy Birthday to the circle who helps in ways big and small.

Please donate today so we can continue to help our neighbors or sign-up to be a volunteer.

RECOVERY KITCHEN MARCHES ON

For many of us, welcome to a second March in quarantine. We hope this spring will bring better times.

At the Columbia County Recovery Kitchen, we are about to mark a full year of chopping, sizzling, stirring, dicing, and in short. . .  cooking for those in our community who have been hit with terrible food shortages.

Hunger is horrible

Hungry child
Children in our community are hungry.

We all know the glory, from childhood and beyond, of coming into a house redolent with the aroma of cookies, a stew burbling on a back burner, garlic sizzling in a hot pan or hot chocolate waiting in a cup.

But so many families, seniors, teens or single folks have been slammed by the pandemic and economic hardship. Jobs that seemed so steady evaporated. Families with full pantries were scrimping and children went to bed hungry often crying into pillows so their mothers wouldn’t hear them.

Recovery Kitchen Vowed to Help Our Community

We started Recovery Kitchen as a pop up project in April 2020 in response to the stories about profound hunger in our county. And during this year, thanks to the kitchen wizardry of chef Jamie Parry and our army of talented, dedicated volunteers, we have delivered nearly 1,000 meals each week. A total of 30,000 healthy, yummy meals over the course of the year.

Volunteers Tom Ehrich and Karen Rosland load food to be delivered to those in need.

An army of 89 volunteer drivers traverse Columbia County from top to tip ensuring that meals are delivered four days a week. Drivers meander down dirt roads, park in apartment lots and deliver to back porches or trailers where kids are playing in mountains of snow. Although deliveries adhere to strict safety guidelines, often recipients wave thanks or holler out appreciation though creaky screens doors.

We are committed to continuing to find and serve all of Columbia County’s food insecure through this pandemic. We will continue beyond the quarantine because hunger often hides in plain sight and people need help.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

As we begin again to chop carrots, wash lettuce, or simmer beef for chili to ward off the chill in our souls and bellies, we want to stop to thank you all. Our supporters, drivers, cooks, clients and patrons.

Recovery Kitchen feeds people in need, yes, but it also reminds all of us that we are a circle united by caring. We are neighbors helping neighbors.

Thank You So Much

In order to fund this initiative we rely on our circle.  That is you.

Our Valentine’s fundraiser created elegant, romantic dinners that raised more than $12,000 and we are planning a fun Summer Kick-Off Picnic, so stay tuned.

We know this year strained pocketbooks, patience and tested faith but, we emerge yearning to see spring on the horizon. And we see hope.

We welcome volunteers and your donations.

A New Grant Will Help the CC Recovery Kitchen Keep On Cooking

The Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation has approved a grant of $1,000 for the Columbia County Recovery Kitchen, an extraordinary project founded and launched in April by Carole Clark, a former chef and proprietor of Charleston Restaurant. Her intention was to create a pop-up kitchen to supply the greatly increased demand for food in response to the coronavirus and subsequent unemployment in the County.

Without forming a formal non-profit, she recruited professionals, local churches, and other organizations to quickly produce the structure she needed to create the Recovery Kitchen. She first brought on Pamela Kline of Livingston to help with organizing this effort and two Hudson chefs, who were out of work during the pandemic: Swoon’s chef Jamie Parry and Le Perche’s John Carr. The Episcopal Christ Church loaned their kitchen, the First Presbyterian Church provided the basis for collecting donations; and the sponsorship of the Columbia County Democratic Committee supplied liability insurance.

As of early June, the chefs have been cooking over 900 meals a week and the numbers continue to climb. Volunteer drivers pick up and deliver them to families in Hudson and 25 towns throughout the county. Families are referred by the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, Columbia County Social Services, social workers and administrators of the County public schools, Headstart, REACH, and Columbia Opportunities.

Current resources are sufficient to fund the kitchen for a couple of months, and the HRBT grant will certainly help, but it is impossible to predict when the crisis will end. There is wide consensus that food insecurity will continue beyond the opening of the economy, as the volume of business will most likely be inadequate to bring back all those who lost their jobs.

The underserved people of Columbia County will continue to need resources such as the Recovery Kitchen for the foreseeable future. To donate, please visit our donation page.

Here’s one mother’s response to the delivery of healthy dinners to her home. “It was delicious and my kids ate everything and it was nice I didn’t have to cook and clean up for the first time in 234,567 days. I know I’m a bit far from Hudson but I really appreciated it. A few weeks ago I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to feed my family so my appreciation is beyond words.” 

For more information contact: Carole Clark at info@columbiacountyrecoverykitchen.org or call (518) 851-8987.

More inspiration from the kitchen

Fifteen-year-old Sally Parry, daughter of Chef Jamie Parry, designed this wonderful CCRK graphic. Thank you, Sally, for sharing your talent and enthusiasm with us. Keep up the great work.