What is a Community Kitchen?
A community kitchen is simply a group of people that prepares food collectively, usually in a co-operative manner. Some kitchens meet often to cook and consume meals as a group, while others meet regularly to prepare meals, which members then take home. Through collective food purchasing and preparation, community kitchens help their members create nutritious, affordable and efficient meals, while meeting a community’s social needs.
Why are community kitchens formed?
Community kitchens provide relief from financial, nutritional, and social challenges. Through bulk purchasing and large-quantity food preparation, participation is both cost-effective and time efficient. For example, if a number of individuals with diabetes are struggling to prepare appropriate food on their own, they may form a community kitchen to share ideas and cook health-conscious meals.
In general, menu items cater to the varied desires and needs of each kitchen’s membership, i.e: singles, families, single parents, people with disabilities, youth, seniors, vegetarians, pre and post natal women. They offer specific food preparations and types, i.e: gourmet, canning, multicultural, heart smart, and diabetes maintenance and prevention. Kitchens also provide an atmosphere in which members form and nurture social ties, developing and/or strengthening a sense of community.
How are community kitchens formed and operated?
The formation and operation of community kitchens varies widely across communities and cultures and is largely dependent on the membership, yet each organization requires a well-equipped kitchen, willing participants, and initial capital. Also, kitchen decisions are usually made democratically by the co-operative system of one member – one vote. Community kitchens do not require a licensed premise, and are often based in homes, churches, and community centres, although some established kitchens operate out of their own facilities. Cooking groups may either require financial contributions from their participants, or receive funding from an external source, and members participate in menu planning, shopping, and meal preparation.
- Advertise the project to the target community and potential funders.
- Meet with potential members to democratically discuss and decide on finances and potential facilities.
- Meet with members to choose menu items and allot purchasing responsibility.
- Meet to prepare meals.