Prior to the pandemic, Feeding America/Second Harvest Food Bank reported approximately
310,000 people struggling with food insecurity in Orange County. Since the onset of COVID and the impact it has had on so many lives, that number has jumped to 450,000 people. Bracken's Kitchen was forced to pivot and respond to the immediate need with sustainable long-term plans. With high unemployment figures projected well into 2022, the need will remain high for some time. In the process of that response, we produced more than 1.74 million meals in 2020, almost triple our original goal for the entire year. At our current pace we project to prepare and distribute 2 million meals in 2021 and are planning for over 2 million meals in 2022.
Knowing the economic impact of COVID has hit children and elderly the hardest, our work is even more urgent. There are countless studies that detail the negative impact on young children when they are not provided a well- balanced diet. Our approach not only ensures a meal, but a high quality, made from scratch, tasty and nutritious meal - something so important to the vulnerable population. In addition, many employers implemented "Work From Home" for many of their staff during the pandemic and now find that it has worked well in efficiency as well as cost effectively without maintaining a large physical workspace. With many working professionals who do not cook at home, we see an increase of meal prep and/or grab-and-go demand.
As part of our Catering for a Cause service, we are looking to venture into grab-and-go
prepackaged meal services in partnership with local privately owned food providers such as
coffee shops and specialty food boutiques. Both City and County sponsored senior meal
programs are also on the rise and need to find cost effective and high-quality solutions to provide meals to qualified low-income seniors.
A new retail grocery concept is being planned with Second Harvest Food Bank where the store will offer groceries, daily household items, and prepared packaged meals for purchase at a below market prices. This will help bridge the food gap for many living in the brink of poverty. It will also relieve financial pressure for the hunger relief agencies and recovery kitchens like ours to shoulder the entire financial burden in food provision, production, and delivery. This new concept will provide more nutritional variety and work in tandem with our community feeding and packaged meal programs.
To increase our production volume and improve on product quality for shelf stable and
distribution-friendly packaging, investing in a commercial grade tray sealing system will be a great benefit for both the Catering for a Cause service as well as Community Feeding Programs. The Rotary Club of Villa Park members will be able to volunteer cooking and packaging meals. They will also be able to assist in our community feeds, serving these meals directly from our food truck.