Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses Community Kitchen
Across Cincinnati, food pantries and soup kitchens feed hungry individuals and families. Food banks – notably Cincinnati’s Freestore Food Bank – provide free and affordable food and supplies to these hunger -focused organizations. Other nearby organizations with community-focused kitchens offer culinary job-training programs that address hunger by providing economically disadvantaged adults with the job skills they need to achieve self-sufficiency.
In addition to the bread room and emergency food pantry that provides bakery goods and groceries to walk-ins each weekday morning, the kitchen at the Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses has long been a source of meals for local residents for decades. During summer months, the kitchen often has provided breakfast, lunch and a warm dinner to children and families that use the center. On weekdays during the school year, the kitchen provides dinner to anyone present at the center. Kids have been known to take plates home with them for family members. The kitchen is also used to prepare meals for attendees of other programs and events using or being held on the center on both weekdays and weekends. These events include community baby showers, health fairs and resident families’ birthday parties and repasses. At this time, the center cannot offer to prepare food for these events as it is not currently certified to do so.
In recent years, there has been a growing number of small businesses that have requested to rent the kitchen in the evening hours. For example, some of these would-be renters are catering businesses and food trucks that have large events to prepare for that is beyond their typical capacity. Further, recent federal funded grant activities in partnership with local university faculty have requested kitchen space to hold family-centered nutrition and cooking courses. The ability to rent the space would be a source of revenue for the center and would more consistently support the purchase of nutritious food for our daily kitchen service.
Following the 2015 Community Makeover, HG Construction indicated their willingness to provide in-kind service to expand and update the kitchen space to allow for commercial capacity. An architect was “hired” and the updates were designed with all the above mentioned purposes in mind. The Ohio Valley Foundation then provided a $25,000 grant to support the effort. However, an additional $35,000 is needed to bring the project to fruition.
According to Executive Director, Alexis Kidd-Zafer, “Greater capacity of our kitchen is greatly needed and would touch nearly every aspect of our programming.” Efforts are ongoing to raise the funds to support this effort.