Bracken’s Kitchen is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Orange County California. Founded in 2013 our mission is simple: Through food recovery, culinary training and our community feeding program we are committed to recovering, re-purposing and restoring both food and lives.
The heart of who we are can be found in a statement first uttered in 1957 by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
At the core of our mission is a deep commitment to our nonprofit charity partners, business and professional supporters, volunteers, donors and employees. Our relationship with each and every one of these groups is as important to us as those we feed.
Bracken’s Kitchen is the inspiration of Bill Bracken, a nationally renowned chef with over 35 years of experience in the hospitality business. After graduating with honors from the Culinary Institute of America, Bracken began what was to be a long and successful career with a number of acclaimed hotels and restaurants including the Peninsula Beverly Hills and the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach. He eventually opened the DivBar in Newport Beach, a way to connect his love of good food with an entrepreneurial spirit, and later became involved in a variety of nonprofit work, including volunteering his services to the Orange County Rescue Mission as a regular guest chef. It was Bracken’s work at the mission that reconfirmed his concerns about the significant levels of food insecurity that exist within Orange County, and he set about to find a way to leverage his talent, experience and connections to make a difference and feed the hungry.
Bracken wanted to open a kitchen to help address the problems but realized that hunger in Orange County has its own set of challenges, not the least of which included a primary concern of reaching food insecure families and children distributed over a broad geographic area. People without resources who are already stretched thin are unable to travel regularly and over distances, even in pursuit of the nutritious meals that Bracken wanted to provide. After some deliberation he concluded that the answer could be found in the trendy new rebirth of an age-old business: mobile food trucks. If the people could not come to him, Bracken decided he would take the food to the people.
A food truck was the answer to this challenging situation facing Southern California. In the hands of a talented and experienced chef and entrepreneur, mobile kitchens are able to take nutritious, high-quality food directly into the communities that need it the most. The plan has elements that are philanthropic, sustainable, and collaborative.
There are two basic needs for survival that is universal to every human, the need to breath and the need to eat. The problem is that air is free, and food is not. It is that simple fact that gives food such enormous power over a person’s life. We have learned that there is not better way to get to know a person than by sitting down and breaking bread with them.
OUR CULINARY TRIO
Bracken’s Kitchen was founded with the sole intent of using food to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. It is our belief that by offering a high quality and tasty meal to someone in need that would give them the opportunity to reserve their money for other important life necessities. While that belief is still at the core of our Food Truck Feeding Program we have quickly learned that the only way to make a truly lasting impact on a person’s life is to offer them a path in which they can lift themselves out of the grip of poverty. That age-old saying of give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day but teach him to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime, still holds true today.
And with that idea we formed our Trio of Services. Our Culinary Trio has a symbiotic relationship with each other. Our Recovered Food Program provides the products needed for our Culinary Training Program and the Culinary Training Program in turn supplies food for our Food Truck Feeding Program. The programs make an even bigger impact as they help to cut down on the massive amounts of food waste that ends up in our landfills as well as support for our hospitality partners with trained and skilled cooks ready and eager to work and contribute to their own future.
RESCUE FOOD to feed people, not send it as waste to the landfills
Re-purpose quality, recovered food to make HEALTHY MEALS
PATH OUT OF POVERTY through culinary training
FEED HUNGRY CHILDREN AND ADULTS a tasty,nutritious meal with dignity
WHERE IS BRACKEN'S KITCHEN RECOVERING FOOD?
Bracken’s Kitchen rescues quality food that would otherwise go into our landfills. In the United States, 40 million tons of food is wasted annually. In fact, more than 40% of all food produced is thrown away. This does not need to happen – food does not become waste until it is thrown away.
There are many reasons for food waste: crops are never harvested, some foods are thrown out if they don't meet cosmetic standards (too large, too small, misshapen according to standards), restaurants often prepare more food than they sell, and grocery stores pull food off the shelf when expiration and Best Used By dates are nearing. Bracken’s Kitchen is in a unique position to educate the food industry – that is, the food growers, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors/vendors, restaurants, hotels and grocery stores - to their social responsibility (and the tax benefit they enjoy) when donating food that is overproduced, cosmetically imperfect or off specifications.
Bracken’s Kitchen also partners with generous food industry companies who provide donations of food we might not receive in our rescue efforts, in addition to equipment and supplies to support food preparation.
Our goal in 2018 is to prepare and serve over 200,000 complete hot and delicious meals to those who need it most.