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.
Photos by Rachel Weisman and Pam Kline