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INTERNATIONAL | Staff Reporter, UK
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Food for Soul brings community Kitchen Projects to U.S. with grant from The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation provided a grant for the growth of the non-profit organization created by world-renowned chef Massimo Bottura.

This support will enable Food for Soul to bring its community kitchens, known as Refettorios, to at least two U.S. cities by 2019, turning abandoned or underused spaces into inspiring dining rooms. These kitchens will transform surplus ingredients into nutritious meals served to poor and vulnerable individuals.

The Rockefeller Foundation recognizes the immense potential of Food for Soul’s work in combatting food waste and hunger and is supporting the organization to develop an approach to maximize its reach and impact, including expanding to the U.S. As part of this process, Food for Soul will spend the next year assessing the needs and opportunities in potential U.S. cities before seeking local community partners to support individual Refettorio projects. The first cities under consideration include New York, Miami, New Orleans, and Detroit.

After this stage, Refettorios are expected to open in 2018 and 2019 to act as hubs and kitchens that benefit the local community. Surplus ingredients, destined for the landfill, will instead be used to create nutritious meals offered free-of-charge to poor and vulnerable community members. The Refettorios will also invite aspiring young chefs from the community to expand their culinary talents and experience by working in the kitchen. With help from designers, architects and artists, each Refettorio will become an inclusive and inspiring space that promotes wellbeing for those in need.

“The Rockefeller Foundation has a proud history of supporting visionaries like Mr. Bottura whose innovative Refettorio model can set a new standard for supporting poor and vulnerable people in cities everywhere,” said Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation.

“A Food for Soul network across the U.S. will help us to feed more people with the food we have, and offer a new model for addressing urban poverty through social inclusion. It will also promote a sense of community through art and camaraderie, while offering job training. It’s a brilliant model, and I’m thrilled the Foundation is supporting this effort."

"We are thrilled to have The Rockefeller Foundation’s support in working towards a greater and more sustainable impact and to introduce Food for Soul’s successful Refettorio model to America,” Chef Bottura said.

“With this support, we can transform lives in vulnerable U.S. cities by providing inclusive environments that bring dignity to the dinner table. Our projects are infused with art, design and beauty to engage our guests in a holistic approach to nourishment: to feed the body and the soul. The rejuvenation of food, spaces and people is a cultural project for both those in need and the wider community.”

Since 2015, over 130 chefs and 600 volunteers have been involved in Food for Soul’s Refettorio projects, that have served almost 15,000 dishes across four locations worldwide, including Massimo Bottura’s hometown of Modena, the Italian cities of Milan and Bologna and in Rio de Janiero in Brazil during the 2016 Olympics. Its current focus is launching a new Refettorio in London in June while future outposts are planned for Germany and Canada.

Photo credit: Food for Soul website

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