A unique partnership is bringing free meals—prepared by chefs—to Edgewood once a week.
World Central Kitchen brought together Santa Fe County, the Santa Fe Community College, Salvation Army, YouthWorks and the Street Food Institute to get food prepared and distributed from Edgewood to Española.
The free meal distribution started May 5 and will continue weekly, until further notice. The food truck will be at the Edgewood Fire Station at 1 Municipal Way from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Meal distribution will comply with all social distancing guidelines under the state’s coronavirus public health order.
The food truck is serving locally sourced, traditional New Mexican food, cold or frozen. Anyone can come and get a meal for free, no questions asked.
People may also request more than one meal for other family members or high-risk individuals to help avoid unnecessary exposure. The food is first-come, first-served.
This week, 3,800 meals were given out around Santa Fe County. Next week, they will be producing 8,000 meals a week to give away.
The food is bought by the World Central Kitchen and is being cooked at the Santa Fe Community College by culinary students, chef instructors and local volunteer chefs. They are partnered with Shamrock Foods and using the college greenhouse.
This week, they will also be introducing vegetarian options as well.
The World Central Kitchen is a non-profit organization that provides meals to people as a form of disaster relief all over the world.
In addition, they offer programs that give people access to job training and the opportunity to gain skills for employment. World Central Kitchen was founded in 2010 by celebrity chef José Andrés.
When the pandemic began, World Central Kitchen activated and began to feed people across America by working with local chefs—along with supporting small businesses by buying food from independently owned restaurants and by buying local food.
Using the hashtag #ChefsForAmerica, World Central Kitchen is providing 250,000 fresh meals every day. They started in “ COVID hot spot” cities and are now expanding to other locations.
Robert Egger, is on the organization’s Board of Directors and friends with Andrés. He said Andrés reached out to him and wanted to help get something going in New Mexico to help out during the pandemic.
“New Mexico has some of the oldest food culture in America,” Egger said, adding, “I was worried that the farmer’s markets might slow down, that the demand for CSA boxes would be greater and that regional growers might be struggling.”
He said the reason they decided to use traditional food is because the price is low and because they are interested in “fighting hunger with tradition.”
“I started the DC Kitchen in 2000 and I remember when José approached me about WCK and taking his work to the next level,” said Egger. He said Andrés travels all over the world to help people and that he was happy to have him reach out during the pandemic.
All of the food preparation is being done at the Santa Fe Community College. “We are building links in the community from a smaller perspective, ” said Jerry Dakan, lead faculty for the culinary program.
The food is being cooked by students and chefs. The kitchen at the college is small, and there are four students and four volunteers running the kitchen.
“When the schools got shut down, we had two weeks left in our Intermediate Culinary Skills class and the students needed to finish,” said Dakan. As a result, students were invited to the kitchen to help out with the project and to earn the credit hours they are lacking.
Students can now earn three credit hours toward an Advanced Skills Class and finish up the other class, also worth three credit hours. Dakan said the students can get 150+ contact hours as they progress through the program.
Using Canvas, an online teaching tool, the faculty set up assessments online to test the students’ skills. In the kitchen, culinary students shadow a chef and help with whatever project is needed.
There are five New Mexico chefs involved. Rocky Durham, Executive Chef at Sunrise Springs, David Sellers, Chef for the Street Food Institute in Albuquerque, Slinn Crews, Chef at Geronimo Restaurant, Jennifer Doughtey, from Santa Fe School of Cooking, and Sandra Nitschke, the current pastry chef at Santa Fe Community College, are all volunteering their skills.
In response to this collaboration, Dakan wants to create new classes for the school’s culinary curriculum, embedding a disaster relief style program. “We are slowly building a culinary army to help with disasters,” Dakan said.
Santa Fe County “has really been on the forefront of getting organizations together to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic and we will continue to create innovative programs to reach everyone in our community,” said senior county planner Lucy Foma.
In addition to a stop in Edgewood, the program will bring the food truck weekly to Española, Chimayo, Pojoaque and La Cienega.
If you are in need of food or have questions about the program, contact Foma at 505-995-2735 or firstname.lastname@example.org.