by Anne Mernin, Director of Outreach for Toni’s Kitchen
Toni’s Kitchen is known primarily as a soup kitchen where we provide healthy meals to our neighbors with food need. A lesser-known part of our mission is work we do to relieve food insecurity by working through community partners. People ask us why we work with partners. Why not connect with families directly?
Food insecurity, especially in families, is a reflection of other underlying issues. Families without reliable access to sufficient food have high levels of stress and instability, with lasting impacts on children. Toni’s Kitchen strengthens family connections with services such as financial counseling, tutoring, or mentoring by ensuring fresh nutritious food is also available when they connect with these important, stabilizing programs. Families find that having meals during programs or backpacks of groceries to take home afterward helps with both nutrition and finances.
The impact is not surprising. Ninety percent of families surveyed report a “high degree” of value from the food received and partner programs report stronger attendance rates. By integrating food into other services, families receive nutrition while dignity is maintained and underlying needs are addressed.
There are additional partner opportunities ahead, which we will engage as resources become available. Ending food insecurity in our community is a realistic goal. Together, we are making real progress!