The Equal Plates Project: Local Chefs Providing Meals for School Kids and Low-Income Residents
Feeding The Community
The Equal Plates Project, formerly known as We Give A Share, is a non-profit that makes fresh, quality, nutritious meals for lower-income school children and others in the community. Their mission is “To Make All Plates Equal” using fresh, local produce-based, made-from-scratch meals that are provided for Charter Schools, early learning centers, subsidized senior homes, agencies serving unhoused individuals, and residents in public housing. Kikkoman Shaw, Executive Chef for the Equal Plates Project, said, “We’re trying to touch everybody in the community and let them have the experience that people who go downtown would get and spend all this money for.”
A Community Coming Together to Help
Aaron and Anne Grier, owners of Gaining Ground Farm, launched the initiative and brought other farmers, producers, restauranteurs, and other advocates to join the cause. Born during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the program was originally a way to keep farms afloat and avoid crops going to waste. The project then shifted to also help people, especially the elderly living in public housing, to provide access to healthy foods. Regional businesses such as Sunburst Trout Farms, Looking Glass Creamery, and Farm & Sparrow are some of the sources for fresh produce, dairy, fish, meat, and other ingredients. Suppliers are paid fair, market-rate prices for their contributions. Chefs Kikkoman Shaw and Kendrick Burton are experienced chefs, who have worked for local fine dining restaurants such as Buchon, The Blackbird, Benne on Eagle, and Tupelo Honey. The program also has the help of other volunteers.
Nourishing The Future of WNC
This summer, Equal Plates Project partnered with the Asheville Housing Authority to provide meals to residents in public housing. The goal is to provide this service year-round. For now, the organization’s resources are dedicated to the school programs. Each week, hundreds of meals for local schoolchildren are prepared. Chef Kendrick Burton on leaving the restaurant industry to join the Equal Plates Project, “I think this is more meaningful because you’re feeding kids, and kids are the future.”
How You Can Help
The organization is always looking for help to provide their services to the community. Financial support, community partners, and volunteers are ongoing needs for the organization to grow. Volunteers do not need cooking experience. Tasks range from cutting vegetables to bagging meals to cleaning.
To volunteer, visit equalplatesproject.org
Dave Trout hails from the restaurant business and always keeps in touch with the great work that his old friend Kikko is now doing. Dave and the rest of the Trout team proudly support Kikko and the Equal Plates Project.
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