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.”


Chef Tommy Carlucci arrives around 8 to get things started. Today’s menu is macaroni and cheese with chard from Common Hands Farm, and hot Italian sausage from Pigasso Farms. For 40 pounds of pasta, Tommy sets four enormous pots of water to boil, and pre-heats the oven for the sausage. By 9 when volunteers start turning up, the kitchen is already a steam bath.

Three or four volunteers help every weekday. Each team has found its own division of labor. On Wednesdays it’s Dee, Kathy and Jonathan. Dee usually dishes out, taking care to keep the portions equal. The others call Kathy “the Lid Lady;” she mainly garnishes the plates, snaps their covers on and stacks them. Jonathan mixes the tubs of pasta and sauce, and does a little of whatever else needs doing.

Tommy has spent a lifetime in kitchens. What’s the difference between the volunteer teams and the staff in a restaurant? “The volunteers are all kindred spirits, here for the same reason,” he says. “In a professional kitchen—not that they don’t enjoy it—but they’re there for the money. And of any five, there are probably two I’d take to my grave with me, but the others are most likely transients.”

There’s almost always a little more food prepared than will be delivered. This day the team’s target is 176 dinners, but they end up with 210. Extras don’t go to waste; on his way home, Tommy will deliver some to each of three free-food fridges. On other days overage might go to the Salvation Army’s kitchen, or to the Hudson Youth Center.

Tommy likes to have music on. It’s usually 80s and 90s folk or rock. This morning, though, it’s a playlist of Sanskrit chants, which prompts a conversation about karma. It also inspires him to muse, “What about a curry sometime? We haven’t done that.” Karma isn’t the only mystery in this kitchen. Cases of plates and lids arrive from the supplier with equal numbers of each. But at CCRK there are always lids left over. Who can say why?

What have the volunteers learned from their participation? “The presentation is so important,” Kathy says. “If the meals don’t look appetizing, people won’t like them.” Dee was sobered to realize that “so many people are hungry. In this country! And here we’re only scratching the surface.”

By the time the volunteers are finishing up, Tommy is beginning to prep for Thursday’s meal. “Next Wednesday,” he tells his helpers, we’re going to continue exploring the possibilities of macaroni and cheese. But I think it will be fettuccini with tomato cream, plus whatever protein and fresh greens we’ve got.”

It’s 10:45. The work tables are wiped spotless. The stove is off. Dinners are stacked five high, waiting for the delivery volunteers who’ll collect them in the afternoon. Dee, Kathy and Jonathan are gone. Tommy is on the phone with the wholesaler, ordering supplies. Sanskrit chants are still murmuring in the background.

A New Gleaning Program

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.

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:

A Special Thank You

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.

They also offer a standalone option to donate beef to CCRK by purchasing it at a wholesale price:

Deposits for the Spring Harvest close on May 1.

Columbia County Recovery Kitchen Honors The Farmers and Producers Who Contribute Food

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.”

Food Insecurity in Columbia County is Real and Likely to Grow in the Months Ahead

by Stephanie Sussman, Claverack

(published on Imby at: on March 13, 2023)

At the March 6 CD19 Town Hall in Claverack, Congressman Marc Molinaro was asked whether he supported the end of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments on March 1, reducing benefits by hundreds of dollars for some individuals and families, causing harm to his constituents already struggling with food insecurity at a time when food prices have increased 10 percent in the last year.

In Columbia County, over 11.5 percent of the population is food insecure. Individuals with disabilities, seniors and low-income working families struggle to put food on the table. Two thirds of SNAP recipients are families with children. Even while receiving pandemic related Emergency Allotments, recipients had to rely on food pantries, community refrigerators, Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army kitchen and the Columbia County Recovery Kitchen, to have enough to eat.

In his opening remarks to the audience, Congressman Molinaro told the audience that while growing up his family received food stamps, the common term for SNAP benefits, and that as a member of the Congressional Agriculture Committee he would be working to pass the 2023 Farm Bill in September, to protect and conserve farmland to ensure food security in our country. The Farm Bill also includes food stamp policies that provide benefits for 40 million Americans struggling with food insecurity.

Congressman Molinaro fashions himself a moderate Republican and a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus. The Congressman defended ending emergency allotments stating that when the emergency is over, at some point it is time to move forward from executive order to policy. But is it over when the inflationary costs have raised food prices, rents, and as the Congressman recognized, the lack of transportation and long drives to get to and from work in rural areas compounds the situation.  The Republican Party has already targeted cuts to the food stamp program in their budget cutting proposals.

Decreasing food stamps benefits will exacerbate the ongoing financial issues for families already struggling to meet their needs. When pressed about what will happen in the meantime, Congressman Molinaro said “we will have to navigate a way to support the most vulnerable with the reauthorization of the Farm Bill.” Politicians may be able to wait 6 months for a vote to pass the 2023 Farm Bill in September, but families in crisis in Columbia County and across the country need real solutions now.


Thank You For Giving

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!


After splitting responsibilities with Chef Jamie, Tommy is now is taking over the CCRK kitchen and leading the preparation of 1100 meals every week. Here are some things you should know about him!

He got his start working at Tom’s Luncheonette, his father’s establishment in New York City.  After moving to Spencertown, Carlucci headed kitchens at the now closed fine dining establishment, Quintessence, in Albany, Chatham’s Blue Plate, Hawthorne Valley and most recently the Chatham Food Coop.  His catering business, Carlucci Catering, did events for such diverse organizations as Art Omi, the Columbia Land Conservancy and the Spencertown Fire Department.

Carlucci came to cooking during what he calls his “Kerouac years.” He was on the road for several years, “running towards something, not away” he says, and realized that cooking allowed him to work anywhere.  Despite his years of experience in the kitchen, Carlucci says: “No one can call me a chef.  I am a cook”

“My goal at CCRK is to do restaurant quality meals, “he says. “I try to rotate meals so each week recipients receive a different dish than the week before. I also try to get feedback. For instance, the Hudson Youth Center gets eighty meals on Monday but we never send fish!”

He is also reviving his catering business, now called Thomas Carlucci Catering, but intending to restrict it to small events.  “I have one job now,” he says,” I grew up in a Bronx neighborhood of Italians and Jews where everyone would want to feed me.  Food was love and that’s how I feel about this job.”

Chef Parry leaves Columbia County Recovery Kitchen

Chef Jamie Parry prepared his last meals for the Columbia County Recovery Kitchen on Wednesday, December 14. “I worked seven days a week for almost three years, so I just need to rest.”  “But I’m leaving the kitchen in capable hands with Tommy,” said Parry, referring to Tommy Carlucci. “I’ll be guest chef now and then to help him out.”

After pandemic shutdowns closed Hudson restaurants, Jamie, the chef at Swoon Kitchenbar, began cooking for the Salvation Army with fellow chef John Carr of Le Perche.

“We were only making 70 meals a day at the Salvation Army,” he said. For two chefs that wasn’t exactly practical. He knew that they could do more and through mutual friends, Carol Clark and Pam Kline, founders of CCRK found them and asked if they were interested in creating a kitchen, he said. They were. 

Since then, the CCRK has delivered over 70,000 nutritious and delicious meals to residents of Columbia County, where 11.5% of families and individuals are food insecure. Is it different cooking for those in need rather than restaurant customers? “It’s more like family meal,” said Parry, referring to the meal prepared by the chef and eaten by the kitchen and service staff before a restaurant opens.

“CCRK receives produce and protein donations from farms all across the area and that brings me back to the roots of why I cook,” said Parry, referring to the amazing ingredients he uses to make the almost 1100 weekly meals produced with love in the kitchen of the Christ Church Episcopal of Hudson. “I try to make very simple, well-seasoned and good food,” Parry says about the meals he and his dedicated team of volunteer kitchen workers produce. 

Parry threw praise to other organizations in Columbia Country who fight food insecurity as well. “I know that JJ and company over at the West Taghkanic Diner put out meals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Little Deb’s Oasis has a little refrigerator out front and even Christ Church has a very small free open food pantry.”

“I just want to thank everyone at Christ Church Episcopal, all the volunteers and all the farmers and distributors. I have worked with some of the volunteers since day one and they make this possible. I mean, I just came in and did what I know how to do.”

Celebrate Our Birthday!

Today is Recovery Kitchen’s second birthday! Thanks to your incredible support over the past two years, Recovery Kitchen thoughtfully prepared and delivered 66,000+ meals to vulnerable neighbors. Donate now to help alleviate hunger at

Even with our efforts, more than 6,000 individuals including children and seniors fight daily against hunger and malnutrition in our area.

Food insecurity has detrimental health effects especially on senior populations, such as an increased likeliness to experience depression, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and asthma. Recovery Kitchen’s drivers deliver home-cooked nutritious meals to the doorsteps of seniors, as well as other families and individuals in need.

You can help alleviate hunger in our community. Donate to Recovery Kitchen to give a meal to a neighbor in need!