To address food insecurity during the coronavirus crisis, Santa Fe Community College has launched a food distribution initiative in partnership with World Central Kitchen, led by world famous chef and humanitarian, Chef José Andrés. Santa Fe Community College Foundation is supporting the program, which will help feed Santa Fe Public School and SFCC students and their families as well as local communities faced with the health and economic impacts of covid-19. Working with city and county governments, the project will identify additional distribution sites where there is pressing economic need.
SFCC Culinary Arts Program Chef Jerry Dakan is coordinating the meal preparation, assisted by Culinary Arts faculty who will guide students through the daily production. Students who had not been able to complete the hands-on components of their classes will earn credit hours toward their Culinary Arts certificates and associate degrees, as well as gain unique experience in disaster relief food preparation. Local guest chefs also will participate.
The partnership was developed by Robert Egger, a Cerrillos resident, who is serving as a food security advisor to Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber. Egger has a long career leading charitable meal programs, having launched the DC Central Kitchen and the LA Kitchen, which have produced over 50 million meals during their tenure. He is a longtime friend and colleague of Chef Andrés, as well as a founding Board member of World Central Kitchen.
Egger said, “Our goal is to produce and distribute thousands of healthy meals on a daily basis, with a hefty dose of traditional New Mexico ingredients. We want to make sure we reach folks in the most rural or challenged communities, where the economic ripples of covid-19 have been most devastating.”
“We’re honored to partner with World Central Kitchen in this major effort to reduce hunger in our community and the region, particularly for students and their families,” SFCC President Becky Rowley said.” It’s one of many ways, the college has responded to student needs during this challenging time of covid-19.
In the emergency phase, the team anticipates preparing and distributing between 2,000 to 3,000 meals a day. Having been an environmental health emergency relief responder and former manager with the Bureau of Health Emergency Management, SFCC’s Dean of Trades, Advanced Technologies and Sustainability, Camilla Bustamante, Ph.D., MPH, is coordinating the efforts with guidance and structure from National Incident Management (NIMS) and Incident Command Systems and in alignment with SFCC’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
SFCC Dean of Sciences, Health, Engineering and Math, Jenny Landen, R.N., M.S.N., FNP-BC, will oversee the screening procedures for volunteers that need to be addressed for the program during this pandemic. SFCC employees and nursing students will take temperatures and screen participants.
The packaged meals, which will be made to serve either two or four people, will support students and their families during the covid-19 crisis. Santa Fe Public Schools bus drivers will pick up the meals to be distributed to SFPS families. SFCC will serve its students through an organized drive-up at the college on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Egger notes that this is the first World Central Kitchen program located in the Southwest and the first to be operated on a community college campus.
“SFCC Foundation established the Student Emergency Assistance Fund to help students stay focused on their studies by providing emergency funds now and in the future,” said SFCC Foundation Board President Carmen Gonzales, Ph.D. “The efforts of World Central Kitchen complement those of SFCC Foundation by ensuring students remain hungry to succeed in their education—not hungry for food.”
The collaborative project will cook and distribute mealsMonday through Friday for the next few weeks, as New Mexico moves to reopen its economy. The project is being coordinated with other nonprofit meal programs, so that meals distribution efforts do not duplicate or overserve any one area, while ensuring that a significant portion of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County residents are served.
Media Access: Photographers and reporters who want to come out to the site must make arrangements in advance and wear Personal Protective Equipment. Contact SFCC’s Marketing and Public Relations Department Laura J. Mulry, 505-946-7980, or Todd Eric Lovato, 505-480-3865. Security will be notified, since the campus is closed. Due to health and safety concerns, all covid-19 safety precautions must be taken: facemasks and gloves must be worn and everyone must maintain at least six feet of social distancing.