A pair of restauranteurs in the Deep South use their passion for “farm to table” cuisine to help feed the hungry in Morgan County, Alabama, where roughly one in four children face food insecurity on a daily basis.
When he’s not in the kitchen dishing up casual cuisine at his bistro-styled restaurant, you can find local chef Jake Reed volunteering at farmers markets around the state, where for the past two years he has put on cooking demonstrations using locally-sourced produce and simple recipes that help low-income families see the possibilities in their pantries.
According to Mitch Dees, who oversees the Decatur Farmer’s Market, Jake is working to help end childhood hunger by educating families about how to make the most out of the food they have on hand. “Jake wanted to do cooking demonstrations using simple ingredients,” Mitch explains. “He wanted to show people that cooking didn’t have to be complicated.” Jake’s colleague, Rick Brown, manages the restaurant and in his spare time helps establish partnerships with groups ranging from local farmers to the Volunteer Center at Morgan County, a HandsOn network affiliate that tackles hunger issues.
Jake and Rick participate in community events year-round that support programs to end hunger, including an annual child hunger summit where they listen intently to young people who offer ideas. Currently Jake and Rick are working on a project to recruit volunteers who can recover unsold produce at the farmer’s market for use in a local soup kitchen and teach canning and preserving techniques to low-income families.
These two difference-makers are galvanizing their community to make sure no child has to go to bed hungry, equipping families with the know-how to cook healthy meals and get access to local produce.