Many parts of Pittsburgh are failing to thrive. The city experiences economic growth, but the benefits do not reach isolated neighborhoods locked in poverty. Two of the toughest challenges faced by Pittsburgh’s underserved communities are job creation and food insecurity. In 2015, Bridgeway Capital provided financing to Community Kitchen Pittsburgh to address these challenges.
Community Kitchen Pittsburgh is a social enterprise focused on workforce development and healthy food access. Community Kitchen uses Bridgeway’s investment as working capital to hire team members and provide public schools and nonprofits with meals for kids. The need is great. According to the Allegheny County Hunger Profile, there are 45,070 food insecure children, a 12 percent increase from 2013.
“Bridgeway really walked us through the process, addressed all our concerns, put our board at ease, and the process just kept moving.”
– Jennifer Flanagan, Executive Director of Community Kitchen Pittsburgh
Troubled to Talented
For a number of Community Kitchen trainees, the workforce development program is their best hope for starting a meaningful and sustainable career. Daryl Coaston, Chef Trainer at Community Kitchen, was a program participant and now helps others find new ways of living and working. Mr. Coaston reminds trainees that “their past doesn’t define them, there is hope, and that they can move forward in life and become successful.” After a multi-week, culinary-based training regimen, Community Kitchen places program graduates in some of the city’s top kitchens.
Invest in Vision
Community Kitchen’s mission aligns well with Bridgeway’s goals for the region, but the quality of its leadership truly made the case for support. Jennifer Flanagan, Executive Director of Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, endures as an experienced and unwavering advocate for food justice in the city. Last year she was honored with a Business Women First Award from Pittsburgh Business Times. Because of her leadership, Community Kitchen received a 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award from Coro Pittsburgh.
According to Feeding America’s Hunger in America 2014 report, 74 percent of Pittsburgh households report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food because they could not afford healthier options. Access to healthy food options is clearly a growing problem, so Bridgeway is proud to support champions like Ms. Flanagan who deliver comprehensive solutions to food insecurity.
Community Kitchen Pittsburgh
1323 Forbes Avenue | Pittsburgh, PA 15219 | 412.471.2600